Some people will do whatever it takes to pursue their dreams. Obstacles? Surmount them. Challenges? Overcome them. Pretty, flattering dresses? Sew them.
Jackie Flanagan, proprietor of Nana, a former boutique in Mount Pleasant and on U Street NW and now a super stylish clothing line, is one of those people. Fearless entrepreneur pursuing her passion so that we all may be dressed a little bit better? Check, check.
Nana was first launched on U Street in 2003 as part consignment, part vintage, part new clothing store. As the store grew and expanded, the focus shifted to accommodate what customers were looking for — more new pieces and eventually, a few of Flanagan’s own creations.
Now, Nana has evolved into what Flanagan thinks her customers are really after: a unique, affordable, vintage-inspired-yet-modern, tailored clothing collection, handmade entirely in the District, sold at trunk shows and online.
Flanagan wasn’t a designer in the beginning – she has a background in marketing, publishing, and the arts — but she knew how to sew, she learned pattern making, and she knew her Nana clientele. Was it crazy for a non-designer to launch a clothing line? Perhaps, but she says she just jumped in and did it. “Life is in the doing.”
This is the Whatever-It-Takes model of entrepreneurship, and just the kind of small business owners many of us in Borderstan hope to support. And better yet, the clothes are all designed, sewn, and finished by Flanagan and her partners in Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant. That’s just cool.
While part of the retail-to-pop-up evolution was responding to customers, part was to fill Flanagan’s own creative needs to “switch things up.” After ten years of the storefront, it was important to Flanagan to have a business that focused more on her favorite, best parts – do a few things, and do them well.
So you won’t find Flanagan running her boutique these days, but you will find her popping up all over town with her spring line. As she says, “Business isn’t a location.”
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we will be joining Flanagan on Wednesday at Goodwood as she unveils her spring collection with a trunk show, full of classic tops and tunics ($65 to $100), pencil skirts ($100 to $120), go-anywhere shift dresses ($140 to $180), and more. The detailing is the star here, with soft floral patterns like this daffodil top, earthy neutrals and a focus on fit. Included in the sales price of each item will be custom tailoring.
And champagne, did we mention champagne?
If you’re not able to make it on Wednesday, all pieces will be available on Nana’s website after the show. And stay tuned all spring, as Flanagan plans to unveil more items from the collection every month at a new pop-up location.
Asked her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and fashion designers, and it was simple: “Learn to sew.”
Nana Spring Collection Pop-Up
- Where: GoodWood, 1428 U Street NW.
- When: Wednesday, March 27, from 5 until 8 pm.
- And? No appointment necessary.
From Jamie Hurst. Email her at jamiehurst[AT]borderstan.com . Follow her on twitter @highheeldtravlr
On a snowy Super bowl Sunday, like many of my fellow Borderstanis, I popped in to GoodWood to check in with the owners, Anna and Dan Kahoe. They are building a cozy Borderstan community, one home décor sale at a time.
Borderstan: Tell me a little bit about GoodWood and why you were interested in being in Borderstan.
Anna: GoodWood opened in 1994 and Dan and I have had it for ten years. We love being in this neighborhood and we have customers that still shop here from before we had the store. Of course we now have this whole new influx of people. You know, it was great space and a great opportunity and we took it.
I don’t know what drew us… it was close, it was funky. It was – actually in the very beginning I would think of this area, as like this is where Washington is going to become more like New York.
Borderstan: Yeah, I can see that.
Anna: It was the first section of independently owned shops.
Borderstan: Has the changing demographics changed the independence? Or what do you think?
Anna: There are a lot more restaurants and bigger small corporations, like Black Salt. Jeff Black, who does all the restaurants, I feel like he’s a native son. So it’s sort of nice in that instance to be blessed by somebody who’s had a lot of success in DC to bring their name and reputation to the neighborhood. 14th street real estate is skyrocketing and I hope people can still do something cool and different. I feel like we are in the right place.
Dan: We are going to stay as long as we can. We want to be in this neighborhood.
Borderstan: What about this neighborhood draws you? I think its so charming.
Anna: One of the interesting things is that there are not a lot of big buildings so the nature of the retail and of the restaurants is a little cozier and it’s so walkable. People live here, they shop here.
I love that we see people every week. They stop by on their way to the gym or they come every week because they have a book group. I think it’s almost like Cheers or Main Street. You get the same group of people checking in.
Borderstan: You’re building a community with your shop.
Anna: I get nervous over the holidays when some of our good friends leave and it’s mid-January and I’m like, where are they! They haven’t come back yet. You know? I always want to hear about it [their trips].
Meeting people’s parents-I love that. It’s my favorite thing when people bring their parents into the store. Because I feel like the good girlfriend they want to introduce them to.
Borderstan: They have to show you off! A lot of people shop here because they feel that it’s not just a home goods store but that it’s also homey to shop here. Is there an instance you would want to share where you found an object you were really in love with, and then it found a really good home?
Anna: There are pieces I get really attracted to and I’m always hoping that it goes to one of our regulars, this, that and the other. [laughs] Dan’s going to hate that I tell this story but Dan just brought in today, see that Vanson leather motorcycle jacket over there?
Borderstan: Oh, yes.
Anna: Dan was wearing that when I met him.
Anna: I know. So speaking of homey, we are selling a piece of our history.
Borderstan: That’s so bittersweet!
Dan: I got skinny.
Borderstan: Well, that’s not a bad thing.
Anna: People often want to know the story behind something. And often we get stuff at auction and there really is no story. And I’m like, it’s your turn. You build the story. Or the story is that you found it here. This is the beginning.
And my favorite thing is when customers come in and they say, oh, I wish I lived here. That’s the feedback we want. We want people to feel comfortable here. Beyond getting something you need, like a chest of drawers, it’s a place to check in.
GoodWood, 1428 U Street NW. Store Hours: Monday to Saturday 12 to 7 pm, Sundays 12 to 5 pm.
By now you’ve probably heard that Borderstan neighbors Anna and Dan Kahoe of GoodWood (1428 U Street NW) recently renovated a historic Shaw carriage house into something spectacular. No, really. It’s breathtaking.
While reading up on their remodel, something caught my eye. Anna and Dan specifically renovated the lower level of their Blagden Alley house to host regular supper clubs.
“We have been to one or two supper clubs, and I just love the idea of an intimate dining experience,” Anna said. “I love the idea of surrendering to a dining experience.”
Prior to moving into the Blagden Alley carriage house, the Kahoes, who have owned GoodWood for nine years, lived in a remodeled laundry business on 12th Street NW. At that house, Anna and Dan hosted several dinner parties, but did not feel they had the ideal space.
“We would have great parties, but we found everyone congregated in the kitchen,” said Anna, who added that the kitchen space was smaller than she would have liked for a group of guests.
That is why, when the couple purchased the carriage house, they specifically decided to build a spacious dining area and chef’s-style kitchen. They wanted to host more dinner parties – and supper clubs, in particular.
“When I asked Dan what his top five dining experiences were, we’d always come out with a list where the atmosphere was wonderful and the food was okay, or the food was divine, but the atmosphere was too corporate,” Anna explained. “I think of great dinner parties I’ve been to and thought of how I could share that with people.”
The Kahoe’s Shaw abode has been finished for about three months now, and so far, the couple has hosted one supper club and one small, private event.
The next supper club the couple plans to host is scheduled for January 20. After that event, the Kahoes plan to have one or two every month.
Anna says since word hit the press, people have been pouring into the store (GoodWood) to inquire about upcoming events.
“It’s a little nerve-racking (that it’s getting popular), but exciting,” Anna said.
Currently, Anna and Dan use Chef Rodger Potter, but are looking to host other chefs and expand their food offerings.
“We’re definitely looking to open our doors to more chefs,” said Anna, who would one day love to open a restaurant, herself. “Let’s push that. We want more chefs. Dan (Anna’s husband) is a wonderful cook, but he’s not prepared for supper club… yet.”
Anna also envisions expanding the supper club’s offerings to cooking demonstrations, cheese and wine tastings and other smaller, more casual affairs.
Supper club at the Blagden Alley house currently costs around $125 for food, wine and cocktails. Anna recommends that those interested in attending a supper club stop by GoodWood on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday (when she is there).
Ask for Anna; she will sign you up.
“We’ve hit on something that makes people really happy,” Anna said. “If you’re game to go, then you surrender, cause you know those are the rules, and then I think people have an unexpected good time.”
From Melanie Hudson. Email her at melanie[AT]borderstan.com
There are many signposts of fall: cooler weather, heartier cooking, holidays galore and, ladies, say it with me – jeans, boots and blazers. But for me, I know it’s fall when all of the birthday reminders start popping up on my Outlook Calendar. Between September 1 and the end of the year, I have no less than 25 birthdays to commemorate in some fashion greater than posting a “Happy Birthday!” on Facebook.
Side note: Those previous winter months must have a particularly strong aphrodisiac in the air to result in so many fall birthdays…
Needless to say, this time of year I am constantly searching for the perfect gift for all the Virgos, Libras, Scorpios and Sagittariuses in my life – gifts that are mostly small, hopefully unique and don’t come from a faceless online vendor. The good news for Borderstan is that in this neighborhood, we don’t have to look very far to find some incredible gift ideas. In fact, you won’t need to leave Borderstan to shop for everyone on your list. Which is great for me, since you readers know I don’t like to leave if I don’t have to (see Planning Your Fab Wedding In Borderstan: Get it all Local).
Some Starter Suggestions
Here are some ideas to get you started. Tell us your favorite Borderstan shops in the comment section below.
Give your best friend an object of delight. Redeem, 1734 14th Street NW. Here you’ll find funky necklaces and cuffs, natural soy candles, George Gina and Lucy bags and Prospector Co. men’s products. Plus, a large supply of one of a kind clothes for you to fall in love with while you’re there. You and your best friend will never shop at The Loft again.
Let your older sister know you’ve grown up. Timothy Paul Bedding + Home, 1529A 14th Street NW. These guys will make your big sis’s bedroom feel scrumptious with unique patterned bedding, pillows and home products as well as custom options available for the extra-picky sisters among us. There is also a gift registry for special occasions. She’ll wonder when you developed such great taste and be clamoring for more of it.
Surprise your boyfriend with something he actually wants. GoodWood, 1428 U Street NW. At this charming “mercantile and dry goods store,” you’ll find reclaimed, beautiful and mostly inexpensive furniture that would make a great surprise gift for the man in your life. But the store has other gifts to make his home shine (like yours) – Bistro de Paris plate sets and Clos du Manoir ceramic dinnerware, oversized mirrors and artwork, men’s cologne and cuff links, cool vintage typewriters and Brooklyn-made Waverly and Irving homemade candles in antique glassware.
Make sure your mother-in-law appreciates you. Tabletop, 1608 20th Street NW. This is a one-stop-shop for all the gifts you’ll ever need for the woman you most want to impress: Snow and Graham notecards and wrapping paper, TAG towels and plates, jewelry from a local designer (and the store’s co-owner), Jonathan Adler salt and pepper shakers and vases, handmade tiles, unique clocks and aprons, Rifle calendars and Jo and Hobo handbags. It’s also a great source for children’s books and toys – securing you favorite in-law status for sure.
This fall, Gilt.com is going to miss you.