As a high-school teen, Stephanie Betts loved to shop at the original Downtown Divas in Melbourne, Florida with its trendy fashions and down-to-earth prices. Stephanie dreamed of running her own store as she honed her retail fashion skills at national retailers, Dillard’s and Pier 1 Imports. Although her love of animals initially led her to a full-time career as a surgical veterinary nurse, Stephanie’s dream of being her own boss persisted for over a decade. Yet she finally realized her goal, opening a Downtown Diva store two years ago in Riverside’s Five Points, along with her husband, Tim. Like many women today, she juggles several roles as wife, mother of a six-year old, surgical veterinary nurse and business owner.
With her big smile and bubbly energy, Stephanie chats animatedly about the fun of bringing in new clothes “selecting what you like” to share with her customers. The store stocks distinctive clothing and fashion accessories from both national brands and local designers, including Nicole Lee, ElegantLee (Pink) Underground, Samantha Meritt, AlaArt and Manisha Joshi, Sunisha Designs. Stephanie encourages her clientele to “take a little more of a risk with color” and add fun accents, like hats, to their wardrobes. But she adds that “the little black dress is always in style.” She adds that many shoppers are surprised at the reasonable prices on unique, metropolitan fashions at Downtown Divas. “We like to say that we offer “boutique brands without boutique prices.”
The owners promote a “casual, laid back style” in their store where patrons can freely browse and try on diverse fashions and accessories without the hassles of aggressive sales staff. Despite the lagging economy, Stephanie exudes optimism and counsels patience to other new entrepreneurs growing young businesses. She believes that you have to be happy in whatever you are doing to be successful and that it is better to go for it than be filled with “what if” regrets.
The Betts regularly host various “Meet the Artist (or Designer)” events to highlight talented local fashion creators. The retail team also looks forward to their annual participation in events, such as the Riverside Wine Festival, Five Points Spring Fest and the Southern Women’s Show where friends and models walk the runaway in fashions from Downtown Divas. The co-owners are also supporters of Breast Cancer Awareness and the Jacksonville Humane Society which pleases shop dogs, Crush and Minnie.
For fashionistas looking to be noticed for their distinctive fashion sense, stop by Downtown Divas at 1001 Park Street, contact them at 904-683-0514, by e-mail at email@example.com or friend them on Facebook.