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Cindy McCartney / Diva Designer Consignment and Other Delights

Cindy McCartney
By Cindy McCartney
Posted on Nov 19,2007
Filed Under Fashion , Local Style,

Cindy McCartney
Diva Designer Consignment and Other Delights
116 South Pitt Street (between Prince and King)
Alexandria, VA  22314

About Cindy:
I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and spent 22 years in the cosmetic and fragrance industry in sales management positions with companies such as Calvin Klein, Estee Lauder, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Elizabeth Arden and Jean Paul Gaultier.  I lived in many places--California and St. Louis among them--during this time.  While working in the business I met my best friend, Dusty Amadio, who would later join me in developing and growing Diva.

I moved to Northern Virginia in 1996 and to Alexandria in 1998 when I married my husband David.  It turned out that all the time I had spent visiting high-end department and specialty stores for business reasons also tempted me to shop in the stores in my time off, for personal reasons.  My shopaholism, and particular weakness for designer clothing (which I  sometimes wore once or twice--or never),  gave me  the idea for opening a really upscale, hip and fun boutique where women could bring barely worn (and fabulous, of course) items to sell, as well as shop for new additions to their wardrobes at great prices.

About Diva:
From the time of making the decision to open the store to the day it opened, the process took only about three months.  The concept had been in my mind for a very long time and it seemed that things just fell into place.  It was hard work, of course, but the difference was that it was a labor of love.  My friends Karen Fleming and Amy Gray and I  had a wonderful time shopping for the elements to put in the store to decorate it and create the atmosphere of a small European boutique.  I looked at many spaces to locate Diva, but there was one I walked into and rented on the 1880's townhouse in the historic district of Old Town.  Opening was in October of 2006 and we just celebrated our first anniversary.

The store has received much press in the Washington Post, Daily Candy, Lucky Magazine, Washingtonian, DC and Philadelphia Style Magazines, Northern VA Magazine and of course, Local Kicks-- and others.  We are so proud and honored that Diva won the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce's New Business of the Year award for 2007. 

The store was named after one of my dachshunds.  You can see her pictured in the logo.

Business Philosophy:
Diva was built on the belief that women love great clothing.   However, women don't necessarily love spending $2500 and above on that clothing and the accessories which complement it.  But sometimes they end up doing it anyway.  The feeling in the pit of their stomachs when they look at their closet and the items they purchased and never wore--or would never have worn in a million years--can be alleviated by consigning them and recovering some of the investment.  In turn, others are benefitting as well because they are getting great fashions at great prices.  It is very much the spirit of recycling that Diva lives by.

The atmosphere we strive for in the store is friendly, with a huge emphasis on customer service.  It seems too that all those years of shopping showed me what to do--and what not to do--to make customers feel comfortable at all times.

We also believe in giving back to the community...we facilitate donation of clothing and accessories to the ALIVE charity, participated in the spring Campagna Center fashion show, and celebrated our anniversary with an event to support the Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure.

Why did you choose to do this?
I wanted to take something I loved--shopping on a budget--and turn it into a business.  I had been a consignor for many years wherever I had lived but none of the shops had the vibe I thought was fun and different.  I envisioned that and I was lucky that my great friend Dusty Amadio joined me in this endeavor; her experience at Bloomingdales in New York City has been invaluable in developing our vision.  She lives in Virginia Beach but commutes up here weekly.   We complement each other--both of us bring different backgrounds and strengths to the table--and it works!  Also, my husband believed in my vision enough to be supportive of me quitting my job and taking the leap.

Why Alexandria?
Alexandria was really the only place I considered--I knew I didn't want a traditional storefront.  In order to achieve the boutique "flavor" I wanted,  the City provided the most choices for me.  I also felt that Alexandria needed as many unique and cool clothing boutiques as possible!  When I found the location I chose, all was confirmed in my mind.  I am hoping with the National Harbor coming that the City realizes the treasures it has in independent Old Town businesses. 

Funny Story?
The guy from Brinks was there installing the burglar alarm system prior to us opening.  Amy, Karen and I had been working in the store all day and decided that we'd run across the street to La Madeleine for a break, feeling that if we couldn't leave the place with the Brinks guy, who could we leave it with?

We had a nice lunch and came back to three police officers standing at Diva's door and Brinks guy looking like he was ready to pass out.  It turned out that Mr. Brinks had done a test of the system--without telling the police department it was a test--and they had come in, guns drawn, thinking he was a burglar.  You can imagine the scene that had ensued until we got back--I am pretty sure that the Brinks guy will never forget it!

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