While many of her fashion blogger contemporaries are boosting their personal brands by launching their own labels through online retailers — a trend as of late — Jacey Duprie of Damsel in Dior is showcasing her virtual world “IRL” with a brick-and-mortar location this fall.
“I want to get it open, like, yesterday,” said Duprie inside Platform, the trendy shopping project in Culver City and location of her pop-up, By Damsel. The two-month lease, with the option to extend, starts Nov. 1. “As soon as we can get in there, get it painted, get set up, we’re open.”
“Everything now is so digital,” she continued. “The whole influencer space is so saturated now, as well. I wanted to think outside the box. I wanted something for people to come and experience the brand firsthand, a space where they could feel everything we stand for, the touch, the smell, the overall aesthetic of the brand, in person.”
She described that aesthetic as “elevated basics, pieces that you’ll be able to wear for years to come, that can be incorporated with today’s trends.” The 600-square-foot shop will feature a range of items she has curated — priced $20 to $2,000 — from about a dozen brands, including clothing by Heidi Merrick, AMO Denim, Filoro Cashmere, jewelry by Retrouvai, headpieces by Jennifer Behr and luggage by Paravel.
“I started picking labels I love the most, and they just so happened to all be female-founded,” said Duprie. “Almost all of the brands that I’m carrying, for them too, it’ll be the first time in a brick-and-mortar. It’s exciting for everyone to see what comes of it.…We’re doing it all on consignment and just doing a split commission. It’s clean, easy.”
Equally easy, she said, was deciding to open the shop inside Platform. She lives nearby and frequents it often. “It felt current and fresh. I didn’t want to make people drive all the way downtown. Everyone knows, living in L.A., going to the east side or west side is a big request, so I wanted something very central. And the team at Platform are so easygoing.”
The 36-year-old was fresh off a holiday in Italy with her husband, real estate developer Grant Leavitt, and six-month-old daughter, June. They spent five weeks in a villa outside Florence, where, along with playing locals, they visited the headquarters of Santa Maria Novella — one of the world’s oldest pharmacies and cosmetic shops — whose goods she’ll also carry. While in Italy, the couple also shopped for decorative items to display inside the store.
“It’s an extension of our home,” she said of the space. “The idea of kind of opening the doors of our home to our audience is exciting. I love meeting our readers in person and having a place to do that and share the damsel brand with people in real life excites me.”
Opening a store had been but a pipe dream, she shared: “It wasn’t until this past year that I really started to take it more seriously.…I guess it was getting pregnant. That has really grounded me in a different way.”
“I’ve been blogging for eight years, which is just crazy,” she continued. She currently has 483,000 Instagram followers and has collaborated with brands that include Dior, naturally, La Mer, Tory Burch and Nordstrom. Along with commission acquired through sponsored content, she reportedly signs two to three six-figure deals annually. “I never started Damsel in Dior with the intent of it being about me, like here’s pictures of me every day and here’s what I’m wearing. The wonderful world of social media and the industry of blogging has transformed to become that, where you share your life and pictures of your outfits, but for me, it started out wanting to help people find things. I was like a virtual shopper, which I loved.”
The Texas native grew up on a cotton farm in a small town. She left the South to study journalism in Chicago, where she spent her off time working at an aunt’s clothing store.
“I think that’s what turned me on to fashion to begin with,” she said. “Also, it was during ‘Sex and the City’ days, and she sold all the brands that they were wearing on the show. I got to pretend I was Carrie.”
She then moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for E! News and NBC, and later, took a position under Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer.
“It was the job to have if I wanted to go into television or film production, but I just wasn’t happy,” shared Duprie. “I was like, ‘What’s wrong with me?’…I quit just before my honeymoon.”
It was September of 2011; she was newly married and decided to start a blog.
“I was posting to basically three people,” she said. “My mom, dad and brother were reading it. I was just updating it with photos of our honeymoon and one day one of the photos was featured on a web site, and it brought in about 3,000 readers that day, and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of people. How do I get them to come back?’ I just kept posting and posting.”
“I was providing people with an honest voice,” she said of the blog’s growth. “I’m very no bullshit. I’m very open with my life, raw and crass at times…Most of my readers say I’m pretty relatable, and I hope to keep that relatability. At times, it can be a challenge when you’re getting offered to fly private jets to Miami for brand collaborations. Am I going to say no to that? No, sorry guys. But I will be relatable in that I’ll be freaking out about it…or, ‘Holy crap, I’m at the Chanel show.’ I don’t want to become jaded by any of that.”
The world of blogging can get “a little mean girl,” she shared, adding that her own clothing line, along with other collaborations, are in the works. “But I’ve never felt any competitive nature towards anyone in the space. I’m very competitive with myself.”
When it comes to By Damsel, she sees it as an opportunity to “reinvest” in the brand.
“We run a small business and money has to come from somewhere,” she continued. “Anytime we’re ahead, I like to think of something we can do to reinvest in ourselves.”