Considering a wanderlust that has landed them in places as varied as New York City, Austin, Memphis and Los Angeles, its not surprising that Donna Orr and Stella Wingfield first opened their Durham boutique, Dear Hearts, in a vintage Shasta travel trailer.
We liked the idea of our store being housed in an environment that was similar to our lives, says Orr. Wed spent so much time on the road throughout the years, either through touring, moving, needing to get away for a weekend or visiting friends around the U.S. Being on the road is in our blood.
The duo, who moved to Durham from Los Angeles two years ago (Wingfield is a North Carolina native), quickly found a following for their mobile stores eclectic mix of vintage and emerging designer clothing and accessories for men and women. After just a few months, the pair opened a permanent location on Foster Street.
The brick-and-mortar store was a surprise for us, says Orr. Mentally and financially, we were on a three-year plan with the camper. We started sharing half of the 618 Foster building with our friend, Sarah, who was already running her business, Shed Letterpress, out of the space. Initially we used it as a private showroom/office/organization space and were there part-time since we both work other jobs to finance the store. When Sarah moved out in mid-October, we decided to maneuver our other workloads around and take over the space in order to be open full-time.
Less than a year after first opening Dear Hearts in that travel trailer, Orr and Wingfield cant believe how far theyve come.
We have to stop and remind ourselves that weve accomplished a lot with very little in an incredibly short amount of time, says Orr. However, neither of us ever sits back and thinks, OK, cool, we can rest on our laurels now. Were a success. We have such a strong vision for the store, and were not even close to fully realizing that vision yet. We are incredibly grateful and constantly surprised for every new positive development, and while we do take a moment to appreciate them, there is always some new idea were working on, some small next step or project. With the nature of what were trying to accomplish with the store, I doubt well ever reach a point where we think that weve finally done it all. Theres always something else to be done, and thats what makes it so exciting.
Local stylist Mary Michele Little will give fashion advice and celebrate the launch of her new StyleFinderID website during her Secrets of Style LIVE! workshop 6-8 p.m. Jan. 23 at 8480 Honeycutt Road, Suite 200, Raleigh. Attendees also will receive goodie bags and refreshments. Admission is free, but RSVP is required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.