A new women’s apparel and accessories store opened April 1 at 129 South Gay Street (formerly Double S Wine Bar). Offering an extensive collection of clothing for such a small space, the shop brings something different to one of the prettiest blocks in the city. While services, restaurants, art galleries, and a bookstore make the block a destination, now there is a new reason to walk to that part of downtown, with the opening of Daché women’s apparel and accessories shop.
Originally from Middlesboro, Kentucky, owner Darrien Howard moved to Knoxville with her mother when she was a child. She lived here until her last two years of high school and returned to Middlesboro, to graduate there. In those two years she met and fell for a guy named Anthony who told her as they approached graduation that he had enlisted in the Air Force, would live in Montana, and she was welcome to join him. The new couple moved to Montana for the next six years.
While there, Darrien worked retail, learning details related to margins, ordering, bookkeeping, hiring and staff management. She worked as a manager for fashion retailer Buckle, ultimately transferring to Idaho where they lived for the next three years.
In 2021, as Anthony applied to law schools, he asked her if she’d rather remain in the west or move closer to home. Knowing they wanted to start a family, she felt the pull of home. They returned to Knoxville just last June for him to start law school at the University of Tennessee. The next month she discovered she was pregnant with their first child and by the end of the year she started an online business and signed a lease to bring it into the world of brick and mortar. She laughed and said, “If it’s going to be a year of chaos, let’s really make it a year of chaos!”
She named the business “Daché,” which is her mother’s middle name, and began to have real success online. Their small home filled with merchandise and baby accessories, prompting a move to a bigger home. The goal, however, was always to have a real-world location and she knew she wanted it to be downtown where she would have foot traffic as people became acquainted with her brand.
When she saw the spot, she knew it was the one. She feels her business offers something different for the block, while fitting the vibe that is already established there. She took the lease in December and spent months on the build-out and accumulating the merchandise she would need. Even with a large amount of inventory, the store feels spacious, warm, and homey.
Since the store opened, she has loved how welcome neighboring merchants and her new customers have made her feel. The store beat projections out the gate for the first month, affirming her location choice.
The website proclaims, “Trendy women’s fashion line with the intention of making us girls feel good and empowered in what we put on our bodies,” and that’s what Darrien enforced to me. She said she has something for the “fifteen-year-old and the sixty-five-year-old.” She emphasized that age and body-type should not be a limiting factor in women finding something they will enjoy. She wants to see the grandmother, mother, and daughter all shopping together and finding something they each love.
Among the items included, you’ll find lots of denims, shorts, tops, dresses, and accessories. You’ll likely see some brands you know, while others might be new. She described the collection as “an elevated mix of women’s clothing.” She said you should find something for “every activity,” including game day or just going out. She’ll soon have additional local jewelry from Sweet Tree and an artist friend has plans to add art to some of the denim, making them completely unique pieces.
Signage is on the way and you can expect First Friday Events to make the shop active and fun. You can follow her progress on the webpage, Facebook, and Instagram. The shop is open Wednesday through Saturday, Noon – 8:00 pm, and Sunday from Noon – 5:00 pm.