Lock Haven, Pa. – Ashley Foltz came to Lock Haven University in 2003 to pursue her dream of becoming a physician assistant (PA).
Five years later, after completing LHU’s “3+2” PA program, Foltz graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Shortly following graduation, she began working as a PA in an emergency room in Pittsburgh, before eventually returning home to the Lock Haven area to work for Geisinger Health.
It was 10 years later, in October 2018, that Foltz decided to pursue a new dream when she started The Skeleton Key Boutique — a clothing store for women that, at the time, operated strictly online.
In 2019, she opened a store in Flemington, but as Skeleton Key’s sales continued to exceed expectations over the next year, Foltz then made the decision to join the many entrepreneurs opening new businesses as part of the revitalization of downtown Lock Haven.
Last November, The Skeleton Key Boutique officially celebrated its grand opening at its new location on East Main Street.
“I have always had a love for fashion and saw a need for affordable clothes in our area,” Foltz said. “With the revitalization of downtown Lock Haven, I felt a strong sense of community and wanted to be a part of that.”
Prior to starting The Skeleton Key Boutique, Foltz worked for 10 years as an internal medicine PA, including spending eight years at a local practice, before she began working per diem after starting her business.
She loved working with older patients as a PA. She said she could speak to them all day, and her patients and coworkers were like family, but as a young mother taking care of patients all day and her family at night she felt she needed something of her own.
That, is how the Skeleton Key Boutique came to be.
Foltz said organizing the grand opening during a global pandemic was difficult, but it was made possible by the support she received from local business owners, Downtown Lock Haven Inc., the Clinton County Economic Partnership and others.
Prior to relocating to Main Street, Foltz said about 80 percent of her sales were from online orders. Online sales are now at about 60 percent of her business, with in-store purchases making up the additional 40 percent.
Even though the majority of her sales still come from online orders, the community and relationships Foltz has built with her in-store customers are very special to her.
“We have built an incredible community of women with Skeleton Key Boutique,” Foltz said.
“Our customers have truly become like family. We would not be where we are today without them.”
Although Foltz is now fully invested in her business and she is no longer working as a PA, she was able to utilize her medical background in 2020 also while helping her alma mater, even as The Skeleton Key Boutique was continuing to take off.
In partnership with a COVID-19 testing company owned by her brother, Foltz was able to assist Lock Haven University with its COVID-19 re-entry testing in August 2020 when students, faculty and staff began returning for the fall semester.
“It was a great feeling. As a medical provider, business owner and mother I’ve certainly had my fair share of stressors throughout the pandemic,” Foltz said.
“I wanted to see my community stay safe, businesses be able to remain open in some capacity, as well as my children back in school. I felt this was one way to do my part and help make that a reality.”
Foltz said she loved attending LHU. She lauded LHU’s physician assistant program for its fantastic professors and their willingness to go above and beyond for their students.
“I still have great relationships with many of them,” she said.
The Skelton Key Boutique mainly sells women’s clothing, but also offers accessories, shoes, a beauty collection and home selection. There also is a small selection of men’s clothing. Sizes range from XS-3X, with a wide array of styles.
“We truly have a style for everyone,” Foltz said. “We are currently getting in more than 80 styles per week, so our inventory is constantly expanding.”