Dapper Darlings was a passion project for my husband and I. This project came about pretty quickly but it felt like a path God was leading us down. I had talked about opening a children’s boutique in our town for a couple of years thinking it would be something we would explore in the far off future. The idea originated from frequenting the local women’s boutique, Pretty Little Things. It was, and still is, my favorite place to shop. I saw how our community embraced this local treasure and I loved how Nikole, the owner, ran the store. I thought a baby and children’s store would be a perfect addition to our community of small businesses. And, as fate would have it, the store front right next to Pretty Little Things became available so I told my husband this was it. This was our opportunity to start our own business together and chase a dream. So we did!
Over the next few months we spent long days designing and creating the perfect space for children. I gave up sleep to curate the perfect selection of children’s clothing. We poured our hearts, energy and a lot of our savings account into the boutique. It was precious! It was the sweetest little spot and I was so proud of what we had accomplished. I wish we had taken more photos of our space because the few we have do not do it justice. I had a customer come in and say it was magical!
We were open for 13 days when Hurricane Harvey hit. We closed early on Friday afternoon because weather reports told us Harvey was going to hit land Saturday. We were going to make a last minute judgement call as to whether we were going to open over the next few days. Like the rest of the greater Houston area, we did not know what this storm had in store for us. It was the following Monday morning that we started receiving photos and videos of the Kings Harbor area where Dapper Darlings is located. The photo below is the last photo we received. This is when we had confirmation water was in the store. The water rose several more feet after this photo was taken. If you look closely in the left corner of the photo, you can see a car that is almost completely submerged.
The next week was unreal. We were glued to the TV. At the foot of our street people were dropping their boats in to go rescue families stuck in their homes one street over. They had FIVE FEET of water in their homes. It happened so quickly. There was the constant roar of rescue choppers overhead trying to search neighborhoods to get as many people out of their water filled homes as possible. Rescuers eventually had to be turned away because the currents in our town had gotten so strong boats were being turned over. It was an anxiety filled week to say the least.
It was almost a week before we were able to get to the boutique to assess the damage.
It was bad. Overwhelmingly so. There was FIVE FEET of water in the boutique. The water line was up to my neck. This is usually the point where people say “At least you are safe. These are only things. Things can be replaced.” No. Don’t say that. Do not ever say that to a flood victim. Those were not just things. It was years of hard work. It was a dream. It sweat and tears and love. It took years of work and discipline to save the money to create this business. It took energy and passion. This was our livelihood. For the short time we had this business it became a big part of our lives. It’s the same for people’s homes. The amount of time, care and love they put into their homes is lost. Every piece of furniture was probably chosen with careful consideration. Our homes and our businesses are a piece of us and that piece just got destroyed. That deserves to be mourned and missed.
BUT in true Texas spirit we didn’t stay in that place for long. Our community came together in way that makes my heart swell with pride.
The next phase for us and the rest of the community was clean up and recovery. We had some incredible friends come out and help us rip apart the store we had just built. We salvaged as much equipment and clothing as we could but as you can imagine there was a lot that was lost. We did some research on what needed to happen to sanitize and clean our equipment and clothing and spent the next week focused on that. We had all three bath tubs in our house soaking clothing and our washing machine didn’t get a break for at least five days. We had two ironing boards and two commercial steamers in our living room. Our entire living room and dining room were covered in clothing. Our garage was full of clothing racks, hangers, tables and shelving. Jonathan spent a few days power washing all of our equipment. My friends are amazing, y’all! We had friends come over to pick up loads of laundry, steam and iron clothing, and bring us dinner. My cup was full! I was running on fumes but all the acts of kindness we were receiving were so inspiring and motivating to keep pushing forward.
This has been a tough journey. We are still stretched pretty thin. Everyday brings new emotions and new challenges. Some days I feel full of hope and motivation and some days I’m discouraged and full of anxiety. One moment I wonder if we can really pull this off again and the next I feel confident everything will come into place. We are finding ways to do business however we can so we can earn the funds to rebuild Dapper Darlings. We hosted a live sale on our social media accounts (@dapperdarlingsboutique) that was very successful, we are hosting local pop up shops with the help of other local businesses (including Nikole from Pretty Little Things. She is such a God send to us!), and we recently set up our online store dapperdarlingsboutique.com. We are hoping to be back in our physical location some time in November.
I still believe this was the path God wanted us to be on. This experience has strengthen my faith. We have received acts of kindness from our friends, family, church, and even the brands we carried in our boutique. I’ve been brought to happy tears many times. I know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, especially when we start to rebuild our store, but I believe it will be worth it. That’s what keeps us working and fighting for this little dream of ours.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”