Borderstan People: Sarah Watkins from Caramel

by January 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]


Sarah Watkins from Caramel Fashion. (Courtesy Sarah Watkins)

Here at “Borderstan People,” we like to profile local movers and shakers who are spicing up the neighborhood in a variety of ways. Recently, we caught up with boutique owner, Sarah Watkins, to see what’s hot in the fashion world.

After growing up in a family business environment, Watkins always hoped to open her own business one day. And she did just that when she established her boutique, Caramel, at 1603 U Street NW in 2006.

In addition to running a business in Borderstan, Watkins also lives in the neighborhood and has since 1998. Here is what she has to say on everything from operating her own business to neighborhood restaurants and even Michelle Obama’s Inauguration Day outfit.

Borderstan: What was your inspiration for beginning the business? 

Watkins: I drew inspiration for the store from my grandparents who owned and operated independent grocery stores for over 40 years. The store is even named after my grandfather’s favorite candy, Caramel.

Borderstan: What can customers expect from your store? 

Watkins: At Caramel, we are always focused on providing a welcoming space and excellent customer service. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that Caramel is a boutique! Being a boutique doesn’t mean over-priced items and a superior attitude. We love being a part of the U Street/Borderstan neighborhood and we want people to feel comfortable in the store.

We encourage people to stop by and browse our men’s and women’s clothing selections by small, unique, independent lines and jewelry by local designers. We feature work by local artists throughout the space, with opening receptions where all are welcome to attend. We also host fundraisers for local nonprofits and trunk shows with local designers.

Borderstan: What styles do you anticipate for this Spring? 

Watkins: Stripes and fluorescent colors will be popular this spring, as well as modern style twists on looks from the 1960s. For the office, pencil skirts are the way to go. Don’t be afraid to wear white, as it will also be right on point this spring. Stripes will be popular for men this spring. Military-inspired styles will continue into spring, and you will see a lot of primary colors on the racks at your favorite clothing stores.

Borderstan: What did you think of Michelle Obama’s outfit choice for Inauguration Day? 

Watkins: Michelle Obama looked absolutely gorgeous in her Thom Browne coat. It was tailored beautifully for her, and the belt and gloves were perfect accessories for the outfit.

Borderstan: And here’s the question we ask everyone — What are some of your favorite places to hangout in the neighborhood? 

Watkins: The Borderstan neighborhood has so many wonderful restaurants and small businesses. Some of my favorites are Rice, Masa 14, Floriana and the doris-mae gallery.

Caramel is open Thursday and Friday from noon until 8 pm, Saturday from 11 am until 7 pm and Sunday from noon until 6 pm.

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