Delaney Rose Erks firmly believes that everyone deserves access to clothes that make them feel good. So, when she noticed a gap in size-inclusive offerings in Savannah, the seed of an idea took root in her mind.
“This city really needed a boutique with extended sizes,” she said. “I saw that a lot of boutiques in this area didn’t offer that.”
Erks is now the owner and creative curator behind Delaney Rose Boutique, the only size-inclusive boutique in the area offering sizes small to 3X.
Erks came to Savannah two years ago to study illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design. When she was forced to leave school due to COVID-19, she decided to switch gears and get to work.
“I’m definitely the kind of person to go with the flow, and if a new opportunity arises, then I’m ready to follow it where it goes and see where it takes me,” she said. “Studying illustration was awesome, but I don’t think it was really what I was meant to do. I wanted to do something bigger than that and help people.”
She withdrew from SCAD, developed a business plan, secured investors and began selling size-inclusive clothing.
The 20-year-old business owner taught herself everything she could by watching YouTube videos made by other boutique owners, following fashion entrepreneurs on Instagram and reading books.
“I just started learning from others and asking a lot of questions,” Erks said. “I’m still learning a lot. I started my actual boutique online in January. I wasn’t expecting to open a shop until a year or two later.” But when she saw a dream location up for sale at the corner of Bull and Brady streets in Starland, she decided to speed her plans up.
Delaney Rose Boutique officially opened its doors as a brick-and-mortar location July 1.
“My main goal in opening the boutique is to help women feel comfortable shopping,” Erks said. “I want to create a space where women of any size can shop and feel welcome and confident. So far, the feedback has been great.”
Offering plus-size clothing does not necessarily equate to size inclusivity. Inclusion requires reducing the sense of otherness that curvy women feel when shopping for clothes. The majority of retailers cater to thin bodies. Women in need of sizes 12 and up have been limited to stores that exclusively carry plus-size clothing or forced to browse separate plus-size sections offering a meager selection by comparison. The fashion industry is moving toward increased visibility for plus-sizes with many major brands now showcasing diverse, realistic body types, but there’s still work to be done.
Erks has done her part to ensure no one who enters her store feels othered. One of the most thoughtful details of Delaney Rose Boutique is the hanger system Erks has devised.
“I do this fun thing with the hangers where the natural wood hangers are small to large and then the white hangers are 1X to 3X,” she explained. “I was really struggling with how to distinguish what was plus-size and what wasn’t. I didn’t want to have a separate section.
All the hangers are mixed in throughout the store, so if you come in with your friends, everyone is shopping together instead of splitting up.”
Though inclusivity was priority for Erks, she also wanted to keep her selection fresh and affordable, too. Most items range between $20-$70, and once they’re sold, they’re replaced with new styles. The store’s aesthetic is “feminine, floral, summery, and girly,” she said. “I carry clothes that girls can feel good in, that they can wear out or just relax in. It’s definitely modern, boho fashion.”
The boutique also carries a line of bath products like shower steamers, body lotions and bath salts. A jewelry line is forthcoming.
Erks said she couldn’t imagine having her store anywhere else. Though she’s originally from Akron, Ohio, Savannah has her heart. What made her fall in love with the city? “The trees. It’s just gorgeous here,” she said. “It’s such a happy environment, and there are so many creative people around here.”
The fact that Savannah is dog-friendly is a perk, too. Pop into the store, and you’ll likely meet her golden retriever named Honey. “Yeah, people love her,” laughed Erks. “She seems to be the main attraction.”
Visit Erks and Honey at Delaney Rose Boutique at 1813 Bull St. in Savannah and see what they have to offer online at delaneyroseboutique.com
or on her social media @shopdelaneyrose
on Instagram and Facebook @shopdelaneyrose