When Mary Dougherty is asked to speak to college students about possible careers, she tells them to think back to when they were children. What did they want to be when they grew up? “I always loved fashion,” says Dougherty. “I loved to sell and play dress-up.”
Both things are now constants in Dougherty’s career. These days, she’s the owner of Nicole Miller boutiques in Manayunk and Philadelphia, and president of Mary K. Dougherty and Associates, a marketing, public relations and events firm based in Center City. “Philadelphia is on the verge of exploding as a fashion mecca,” says Dougherty. “I love to see manufacturing, design, talent, sales and skills all come together in jobs and a creative economy in our city. It’s such an exciting time to be in this industry.”
Dougherty’s career in fashion began as a wholesaler more than 25 years ago. When she was hired to represent burgeoning New York fashion designer Nicole Miller, her business grew alongside Miller’s. Dougherty and her team had always done their own public relations, marketing and branding, so the evolution of MKDA was only natural.
Currently, MKDA puts together a number of fashionable events in the city annually, including Bellevue Gets Engaged and the XIX Most Fashionable Women in Philadelphia. In addition to Miller, Dougherty represents fashion designers Cynthia Steffe and Sarah Van Aken.
Through it all, Dougherty has remained committed to giving back, helping countless local charities over the years. “Whatever I can do to help the community, I try and do,” she says.