What started as a chance coincidence has turned into a fashion-forward partnership between two Northern Virginia residents.
Sarah Bryen and Abby Wolverton had been in the same circle of friends for a while before they decided to meet for a drink one night in Old Town in 2018.
The conversation started with normal topics of career, interests, hobbies. Before long, the two realized they had even more in common than they thought: Both Bryen and Wolverton had spent the previous five years in and out of a serious relationship with the same man.
“Honestly, after we found that out, we just became a lot closer as friends,” says Wolverton of the discovery.
Today, less than a year after that first meetup, Bryen and Wolverton are business partners of Sassy Boutique—a mid- to high-end boutique with an upscale-resale format—located in the historic Crilley Warehouse in Old Town, Alexandria.
“Shopping is one of the big things Sarah and I do together and I’ve always wanted to open a business, so it’s something we had talked about,” Wolverton explains. “ I came to a point over the summer where I was able to go for it, and she found space on Craiglist in the Crilley Warehouse. It was perfect, so we just made it happen. It went much faster than either of us expected it would.”
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Bryen and Wolverton officially opened the 225-square-foot space in October, featuring day-to-day accessories and women’s clothing, with a heightened focus on dresses. To find the perfect pieces, the two travel throughout Northern Virginia and nearby cities in search of popular resale items, including pieces from high-end brands like Armani, Diane Von Furstenberg and Joseph Ribkoff. Within the shop, each piece is typically priced at about half of the original retail price.
“The one thing we don’t sell is pants,” says Wolverton. “The space is really small and what we are trying to do is make it so every item is special. It’s hard for us to make pants special. With dresses, we can be more playful.”
While Wolverton is typically the one you’ll see while browsing inside the store, Bryen takes charge with the behind-the-scenes factors, primarily building Sassy Boutique’s online presence. Bryen also owns her own marketing business, Old City Marketing, and bartends in the evenings.
As the concept is new to the region, as well as to Bryen and Wolverton, the two are very much in the “building process,” as Wolverton describes it.
“It seems as though there’s always something to do,” says Wolverton. “Right now we are really trying to create relationships with the residents here, because we know this is very much a community and we are happy to be part of it.”