May 23, 2018
A sweet little white and blue painted house on third avenue is now home to Cherry Creek North’s newest women’s boutique: Denver Darling. The bright pops of color visible inside seem to have their own gravitational pull, not at all unlike like the store’s bubbly brunette owners, Molly Fortune and Abby Miller. Here, they tell us how they turned a popular blog into a vibrant retail destination.
So, the name “Denver Darling” was actually the name of a blog before it became a store?
Abby: I used to work in events – actually, Molly did too – and I had a long list of vendors. I started sending out my vendor lists to people new to the area and telling them about places I love since I’m a native. One day my sister said to me, “You’re actually writing a blog!” So, I thought I might as well share it online and see what happens. Then, I’d decide to post a recipe, but people would always ask me what I was wearing. I’d think to myself, “OK, well, I just spent three hours on this recipe, but if you care about what I’m wearing then that’s great too.” I guess that’s how it started. These days we say our customer base is [three groups]: one third are people that follow the Denver Darling blog, one third are friends and family and one third are people that walk in off the street.
So a popular blog by a Denver native with an inside scoop became a brick and mortar store. How did you bring the essence of your blog into the store?
Abby: We were actually having lunch across the street at Little Ollie’s and saw that this cute little house was available as a retail space and we said, “that’s it!”
Molly: We didn't want a massive space. Doing this the first time we wanted it to be very manageable. This is a quaint, manageable space where we knew we could do social gatherings and trunk shows and have people gather outside on our patio. It's very welcoming.
Growing up as natives to Denver, what is your connection to Cherry Creek North?
Molly: Well, I only live a couple of blocks away. I actually grew up in this neighborhood.
Abby: I grew up in Golden. Here’s a fun fact: Our grandfathers knew each other and did business together in Golden. Oh, and that’s actually my mom shopping across the street now! She comes in probably once a day because she lives just around the corner.
Speaking of family, Abby, your family is about to grow, isn’t it?
Abby: I’m 35 weeks pregnant with our first, a little girl. We’re so excited.
Considering you own a women’s boutique, what do you hope to teach your daughter about her own self-image?
Abby: I want her to be fun and confident. I think the store will be a fun place for her to grow up. We’ve already talked about having a little area for her upstairs with a pack-n-play.
Looking around your store at the styles and the fabrics, I’d say you also sell “fun and confident,” would you agree?
Molly: And “easy going.” It’s exciting for us when someone’s in the store and they try on a dress and you can see they instantly feel good. On our first buying trip, we literally spent hours trying on the clothes, which most people don’t really do, but we wanted to see how they felt when being worn.
Give an example of something you’re carrying in the store right now that really excites you.
Abby: We were really excited to carry Draper James, which is Reese Witherspoon’s lifestyle brand. They aren’t carried in many boutiques. They have their own stores. We thought it was a long shot reaching out to them.
Molly: We sent them photos of our store and they loved it. Her brand has a really fun, Southern feeling to it. Bright colors. A classic appeal to a lot of age groups.
In addition to clothing, it looks like you sell a fair amount of special occasion gifts. Can you give us a few examples?
Molly: We sell bridesmaids gifts, shower gifts, wedding gifts, baby gifts.
Abby: We wanted this to be a one-stop shop where you come in and get a dress and also a little something for your hostess.
Behind you are frames filled with a variety of statement earrings and other jewelry, and the price point caught my eye.
Molly: We have earrings for $22, bracelets for $8, and much more. Our statement earrings are a fun way to add some pop to an outfit at an accessible price point. We opened this store because we felt like something was missing in Denver. We had a lot of events to go to and were never able to find a classic style at an affordable price point, so we try to keep our clothing between $60 and $300.
Photos courtesy of Jenna Sparks Photography