Women’s clothing and accessories store opens in Westport
WESTPORT— After four years on Etsy, a virtual store has become a real storefront on State Road.
De’Ja Designs, a women’s clothing and accessories boutique that opened on Friday, offers stylish, brand-name modern and vintage outfits designed by owner De’Ja DeGrace.
“I want to style more people and help build their self-esteem and self-confidence,” DeGrace said.
“I know the last year and a half has been really tough on people, and they feel weak, so I just want to help raise a lot of women,” said the 25-year-old New Bedford native.
DeGrace’s interest in the fashion world began when she was a child. While living in the West End on Kempton Street, she wore her dolls in a variety of chic outfits. In high school, DeGrace said she “would always dress to impress” and has been honored with a “fashionista” award before.
“I learned this was what I was meant to be and that it was my passion,” she said. “One day, I dreamed of being an entrepreneur and running my own business.
Be part of the fashion industry
DeGrace specialized in fashion design at Voc-Tech, while also participating in fashion shows for New York Fashion Week and helping with modeling, photography and video shoots.
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While working at Joseph Abboud Manufacturing Corporation as a seamstress, DeGrace continued her education at Bristol Community College by taking courses in business management. She also worked at Hannoush Jewelers as a visual merchandiser.
“I always wanted to want more; determined to pursue what I believed in and ambitious to achieve, ”she said. “If someone said they liked something or saw something I had on me… I would offer to sell it or get it, duplicate it and sell it.
DeGrace said she was always “bustling and bustling” and had a reputation within the SouthCoast community for her conduct. “A lot of people know me,” she said. “Or because I didn’t have a storefront, people knew where they could find me in the neighborhood. “
In 2016, she launched “De’Ja Designs” and soon after her Etsy store, with the idea of one day having her own showcase still in sight.
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“You kind of make a plan and think it’s going to be okay with ABC, nice and smooth, but you know there are twists and turns in between,” she said. “I’m grateful that it turned out this way because I learned a lot and also corrected my mistakes.
“I’ve learned to have patience and that things aren’t going to go perfectly or go the way you want them to.”
Launch your own showcase
Finally, in July 2021, DeGrace’s storefront dream came true when he was handed the keys to his Westport store. Just five minutes from his Dartmouth residence, DeGrace has spent the past two months preparing for the store’s grand opening.
“I had a lot of homemaking but, for the most part, it was me every day from seven to midnight to prepare it.”
De’Ja Designs specializes in women’s clothing specifically tailored to all shapes and sizes. DeGrace said she went to trade shows in California and Las Vegas to selectively pick out a bunch of outfits and styles that are stretchy and suitable for everyone.
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“It doesn’t matter what size or what they’re going through, when someone comes into my store it should automatically be already high,” DeGrace said. “I want to give women good energy.
Listed as a member of the New Bedford and Fall River Chamber of Commerce, DeGrace said she hopes her clients see her more as a friend and confidante. She also wants to offer virtual or in-person style consultations in the near future.
“I want to give women a good feeling and a whole experience when they go with me that it makes them want to come back,” she said.
Standard-Times team writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.