Rosemont resident and fashion rep-turned entrepreneur Jennifer Kearney Desiderio laughs as she watches her daughter Caldwell dress a mannequin at 116 King Holiday Pop-Up, Desiderios’s new pop-up shop in the space Decorium used to occupy.
“I didn’t quite plan it this way, but it’s quickly tuned into a family affair. Caldwell is helpful as only a 5-year-old can be, while my husband Brent has become my fashion Uber, running back and forth to keep us restocked and helping greet customers; I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
With the holiday season in full swing, we chatted with Jennifer to learn more about how 116 King Holiday Pop-Up came about, what we can find there, and what’s coming next…
AS: Where did you get the idea for 116 King Holiday Pop-Up?
JKD: I became the accidental proprietor of 116 King through a chance meeting and introduction to Christina Mindrup of the AEDP — the City’s economic development office wanted to sponsor a holiday pop-up store to showcase innovative ideas in retail and I’d recently been to see what South Street Seaport District was doing with the location in New York City. Based on what I saw and what the City envisioned, I thought we could do a pop-up here. Old Town Alexandria has a fantastic group of boutique owners, and the addition of a pop-up seemed like a great way to complement all the great retail that already exists in Old Town. One thing led to another and six weeks after that first meeting, 116 King was open for business.
AS: How did you go about actually creating the pop-up? Stocking inventory for an entire shop, that quickly, could not have been easy!
JKD: The first call I made to join us at 116 King was to two of the owners of the lines I represent, Taylor Ivey of Ellsworth and Ivey and Sara Rossi of Beau and Ro Bags. They started The Skinny Dip in Nantucket this year, and have several fabulous brands that were not well known in the D.C. Metro area. It’s a great fit because a pop-up shop is a creative, lower-risk way for brands new to the area to be introduced to Old Town, especially for those retailers who may consider opening new stores, say a kids’ and even a men’s store.
AS: What brands do you carry?
JKD: One of the best things about working on this project has been working with so many small business owners who are putting their heart and soul into what they are doing, as well as the local talent we have in Old Town, like Laura Hooper Calligraphy and Crab and Cleek.
A few of the 30+ brands you will find at 116 King are Austen Heller, a new designer with fabulous shoes, slacks, and shirts for men; Little Birdies for the kids; Crane and Lion with their athletic wear, Beau and Ro Bags; Ellsworth and Ivey; Artemis Design Co; CCH; Boast, for the tennis player; Meanwhile Back at the Farm; Liz Law Jewelry; and, Kiechko Goods, plus many others.
AS: What’s next for 116 King Holiday Pop-Up?
JKD: We have had such a warm welcome from the community and look forward to partnering with current Old Town establishments for special events. Up next, Fitness on the Run will be on site for a special, free boot camp class at 10am on December 12; Helen Olivia joins us for a special class bow and wreath class on December 13; and a fun kid’s event with Shannon Jones, author of Kee Kee’s Big Adventures.
A few other friends around the area will be doing events in December, so look for the full schedule on 116King.com or follow us on Instagram @116king for all the updates. Events are being added all the time and we invite everyone to participate!
AS: So…how is it all going?!
JKD: Three weeks into the pop-up we couldn’t be happier. The success of 116 King is due to everyone pitching in. The City, our landlord, a fantastic staff, other local boutique owners, designers willing to give us a chance, and customers who want to a support local business. It’s been crazy, but also exciting. And this is bigger than just 116 King. This is about creating opportunities for everyone! Sky’s the limit.