303 Magazine 2 Fashion Forward Female Brands Empowering Locals

Andrew M. Santos

Being a women-owned business in today’s world is very powerful. Female entrepreneurs show young girls that anything is possible, no matter what – especially through fashion. A Line Boutique and Denver Darling, two woman-owned boutiques in Denver, shine a light on the importance of supporting women-owned businesses in the fashion industry. 

Karmen Berentsen, owner of A Line Boutique, and Abby Miller, owner of Denver Darling, aren’t your average business owners. Their work to empower women in their community through fashion makes them so much more. 

A Line Boutique

Photo Courtesy of Esther Lee Leach

A Line Boutique is one of a kind and more than just a retail store. Owner Karmen Berentsen creates a community amongst her company and encourages female empowerment through her brand.

Berentsen founded A Line boutique to “help women feel seen, powerful, relevant and confident,” she said. Her team consists of mostly women, along with several men that help establish a welcoming and inclusive environment.

A Line Boutique runs differently than most retail stores, with a staff of almost a dozen stylists. Berentsen’s stylists work on salary, with no hourly wage like typically retail positions. Therefore, money isn’t the priority. These stylists aren’t working to make commissions and make the sale, they are there to make customers feel confident and beautiful. 

Berentsen’s leadership abilities formed at an early age. Her upbringing was a catalyst to the role that she is in today as a business owner. From an early age, her mom helped her foster powerful ideals that she carries with her today. 

“I am so thankful for my mom who went before me and showed me a powerful role model of being anything that I wanted to be,” Berentsen said.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The A Line boutique team comes to work everyday excited about the women they are working with rather than the product. Traditional retail associates wake up and are excited about their products. However, A Line emphasizes fostering excitement for customers.

The environment is so customer-focused that a stylist will talk someone out of a short-term sale because they want the long-term customers to be filled with happiness and joy. 

For Berentsen, A Line Boutique exists to remind women to embrace who they are. By instilling this inspirational message, she builds support for customers to see their true beauty, which is the store’s everyday mission. 

Therefore, it’s clear that Berentsen is so much more than a boutique owner. “The whole reason for our existence is to empower women,” she said. 

Owning a business in Denver as a woman doesn’t mean anything different to Berentsen because, for her, it’s the norm.

“I never grew up thinking that because I am a female I was limited, and I’m so thankful for that,” said Berentsen. 

Berentsen is very grateful that she has the opportunity to show younger girls out there that they can do anything they put their minds to. This is important, especially for women growing up in today’s society, especially when “from a global perspective that is so far from so many young girls’ realities,” said Berentsen.

Berentsen mentions that when she is out at dinner parties or meeting new people in a new setting she tells them that she owns a women’s empowerment company rather than a retail store because A Line Boutique is much more. 

303 Magazine, 303 Fashion, A Line Boutique, Denver Darling, Female Forward Brands, Female Empowerment, Denver Fashion

Photo Courtesy of Adrienne Thomas

Along with A Line, Berentsen also published her memoir, Learning To Fly last year. Her memoir reminds women that they are not alone and to normalize topics that many often beat themselves up about. Additionally, she empowers her readers through their sense of style.

A Line is not just a boutique but also an experience and a community. They have taken their clients to Paris Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, and even to climb a fourteener. They are creating a community for connection and empowerment.

Berentsen also aims to debunk the myth that shopping at a boutique is more expensive. “I don’t think shopping local should cost you more, never pay more for shopping local,” she added. Another myth that Berentsen hopes to put to rest is that boutiques don’t just carry a small arrangement of sizes. For example, A Line Boutique carries sizes 0-12. 

As a female business owner, Berentsen fosters the idea that A Line Boutique is “so much more than a retail store, to me it’s not about selling someone a sweater, it’s about becoming a part of someone’s life and helping live fully.”

As a result of this mindset, Berentsen wakes up every morning to “keep helping women come alive and feel alive,” she said. 

Photo Courtesy of Esther Lee Leach

Check out A Line Boutique’s Instagram page to shop styles and learn more about the storeTo make an appointment at A Line Boutique or get involved in this community, visit the website. They also have four retail locations from Castle Rock to Union Station.

Denver Darling

303 Magazine, 303 Fashion, A Line Boutique, Denver Darling, Female Forward Brands, Female Empowerment, Denver Fashion

Photo Courtesy of Denver Darling

Denver Darling is a unique boutique owned by local entrepreneur Abby Miller. She is proud to say that her store is run by a team of hard-working women. Together, the Denver Darling employees strive to bring affordable and memorable pieces to the local community.

Miller’s store provides both women’s and children’s clothing, along with a gift section. They also have clothing options for babies and toddlers. 

Miller always dreamed of opening up her own store. Before Denver Darling came along, Miller started blogging in 2014. During her writing, she would shine a light on and promote different businesses in Denver. 

Due to her strong passion for local businesses, Miller quickly turned her blogging into a more fashion-focused endeavor. 

Shortly after recognizing her dream and love for fashion, she connected with her friend and they opened the store together, which now Miller is running on her own. They aimed to open a store that had affordable clothing that customers could wear to make memories in – without having to pay a fortune. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

One day, Miller was having lunch at “Little Ollies,” a spot in Denver that offers Chinese cuisine. As Miller and her friend were eating they noticed a “for rent” sign at a store nearby. They took this as an omen and signed the lease on January 1st. This was their first shot at diving into the Denver fashion industry.

Following the store’s initial opening, Miller and her former business partner traveled outside of Colorado to locate the perfect merchandise for their store. They have now been open for four years. 

The message that Miller wants to bring as a business owner is the importance of affordability while spreading joy every day throughout her store. 

Denver Darling supports the local community in giving back to non-profits and local businesses as much as they can. The brand often partners with Cherry Creek North and other boutiques in the surrounding area. One company Miller mentions she often supports is Lou Collective.

The store provides affordable and attainable feminine clothing to all women around Colorado. Customers often vary in age, ranging from an 80-year-old woman searching for basics like crisp white t-shirts and button-ups, to teens and toddlers looking for a fabulous dress. 

Denver Darling is always trying to keep classic pieces throughout their store to better serve their customers. Along with their basics, they have fun and unique dresses as well as more memorable pieces. Miller is proud of the variety that her store holds, making her brand more accessible to a larger audience of women. 

303 Magazine, 303 Fashion, A Line Boutique, Denver Darling, Female Forward Brands, Female Empowerment, Denver Fashion

Photo Courtesy of Abby Miller

As a business owner herself, Miller also emphasizes the importance of supporting women-owned businesses like Denver Darling. This means shopping local and supporting female business owners that we are surrounded by.

Along with spreading joy and affordable clothing to people, Miller explains the importance of being a women-owned business, and what she wants to show future girls. “As a mother of one daughter and another on the way, it is really important to show entrepreneurship to girls everywhere,” she said. 

She is very proud to say that her daughter is “probably the best salesperson.” Miller gets to watch the joy and excitement her store brings to her daughter, who often tells everyone that she owns her own store. 

This just goes to show the importance of running a women-owned business and the impact it has on young girls, making Denver Darling successful in serving the community through fashion.

Check out all that Denver Darling has to offer on their Instagram or visit their storefront located at 2432 E 3rd Ave, Denver.

Editor’s Note: updated on 4/22/22 to include all A Line Boutique locations.

Next Post

Bing's Ethical Shopping hub expands to U.S., Canada

Microsoft Bing’s Ethical Shopping hub is now available in the U.S. and Canada. It launched in December, but only in the UK. In addition, the hub has a new design and the experience can be triggered when people search for relevant queries in English. What is the Ethical Shopping hub? […]