After working as a manager and buyer in fashion retailing throughout the Cape Region for most of her career, Rehoboth Beach resident Jen Vernon decided she was ready to venture out on her own after she left her last position in December.
The result is HavenBlu, Vernon's new sun-and-surf-inspired boutique in Bethany Beach, where she is already building a personal relationship with new clients - pulling sizes and searching her inventory to fulfill special requests for phone and mail orders.
Filling the store with fashionable swimwear, clothing and accessories,Vernon said she is going for a California-beachy vibe, and her shoppers tend to be an upscale, younger crowd.
"My dresses are anywhere from $30 to $120," Vernon said. "There's a price range in here for everybody."
While she is still getting to know Bethany as a store owner, Vernon said she's happy to ease into the season. As she gets more comfortable in town, Vernon said she is looking forward to expanding her selection of apparel.
But for the time being, Debbie Berkelhammer, a Potomac, Md. resident who is a regular visitor to Bethany Beach, said Vernon has filled a niche at her beach.
"I love the store, I think I've told a dozen people about it," Berkelhammer said. "I knew immediately that it was new. Her ordering style is great and her choices are great."
This summer, Vernon said she's looking for tribal prints and fabrics, hi-low necklines and colorful jewelry to be big after spending the spring traveling to New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to buy merchandise.
"It's that very popular bohemian chic mixed in with some preppy," Berkelhammer said of the style choices at her new favorite store. "I feel like Bethany needed it."
Occupying a mid-sized unit of Lighthouse Station, HavenBlu is bursting with the stylish merchandise she picked up on these excursions.
Spending the better part of her life working in fashion retail, Vernon said she likes to believe she's picked up an eye for quality and value.
"I've worked in fashion on and off my whole life, pretty much since the time I was 13 years old," she said. "I feel like I'm pretty knowledgeable about clothing and fabric and hopefully that shows though."
Although she carries what many would consider to be high-end merchandise, Vernon said she takes great pains to keep her pricing reasonable at HavenBlu, hoping she will eventually be known for fair pricing among regulars.
A shopping oasis tucked away in the small shopping mall in Bethany with tunes by Bob Marley playing in the background, the mood of HavenBlu feels inspired by the name - a calming sort of refuge from the throngs of beach-goers who are beginning to occupy the southern beach.
"It's a homage to the ocean," Vernon explained. "That's like my favorite place."
For more information, call 302-539-4785.