Sweet Fashions and Art at Caramel in Washington, DC
January 30, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC, US – In an age of corporate food purveyors from Walmart to Whole Foods, the family-run corner grocery store may seem like a quaint relic of the past. And the same is largely true of the neighborhood fashion boutique, hard as it is to compete with mega-discount emporiums from Forever 21 to Barneys New York CO-OP.
But entrepreneur Sarah Watkins has managed to put together a boutique on DC‘s U Street with all the fashion punch of a Barneys and the charm of a corner grocery store. In opening Caramel, Watkins took inspiration from her grandparents, who owned and operated independent grocery stores for over 40 years (caramels were her grandfather’s favorite candy).
Just like the local grocery would be a go-to for staples like milk and eggs, the cool clothes and accessories at Caramel make it a reliable stop for all occasions. The fashionable women’s dresses, designer denim, and sharp separates would work just as well in the office as at a party, while the funky jewelry and shoes are fun splurges that require no occasion. The store carries stylish duds for dudes too.
Though national and international designers are represented, the emphasis here is on local DC designers. The airy shop also doubles as a gallery for contemporary canvases by local artists. It all adds up to a hip, artsy U Street community vibe that makes you feel (and look) like an insider.
As if we needed any more reasons to feel good about shopping here, Caramel is also a player on the non-profit scene. In addition to managing the boutique, Watkins is a part-time professional fundraiser for nonprofit organizations. The store frequently hosts fundraisers and other events to help local causes and artists.
Plus, Caramel is a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership program. The shop is entirely wind-powered, and many of the products and fashions are eco-friendly, vegan, and/or recycled. “Green” is certainly a color that looks good on everyone! Prices are on the steeper side, but we think it’s worth a little extra to support local artisans and a healthier planet.
So, if you just happen to be in the U Street neighborhood and need a sweet hit of style, definitely pop into Caramel. It’s not unlike stopping into the good ol’ “five and dime” for some candy!
Read more about Caramel in our Washington, DC Guide.