SARAH SOMERS’ luxury scarf brand, Deseda, will be celebrating its third anniversary later this year. When Somers first launched her company in 2019, the story was about a female entrepreneur bringing a sophisticated fashion product to the market. But in 2022, Deseda’s story is so much more.
“I can finally talk about we’ve been building since the beginning,” explains Somers. “While Deseda offers a beautiful product in and of itself, the brand has always been about developing an artist platform we call Dear-Co (Deseda Artist Collective). This is our way of creating a gateway gallery where we commission work by artists from around the world that becomes the foundation for our scarf designs. We then can shine a spotlight on these artists, their creativity, their technique, and what makes them special. In doing so, our goal is to connect them to a new audience and a new support base for their work.”
In just a few short years, Somers and her small team have worked with 21 artists from nine countries to create her Deseda collection of scarves. “I’m so proud of the diversity of DearCo,” she says. “These artists are diverse in their personal backgrounds, diverse in the languages they speak, and diverse in the chosen mediums they use for their designs. Some of our pieces have started as paintings or mixed media collages or even photography. It’s a real blend of technique, medium and artistic style.”
Somers’ role at the helm of Deseda was a professional rebranding of sorts for this financially trained entrepreneur. After more than 15 years in a numbers-driven industry, she longed for something more creative.
“I always loved wearing scarves,” Somers says. “Even before they were a staple in my wardrobe when I was in finance, I loved them as a young girl—in my hair or as a belt.”
Harkening back to when she lived in Madrid and London, Somers brought a European sensibility to scarf wearing when she launched Deseda. “Scarves are just more traditionally integrated into your everyday wardrobe in Europe,” she says. “With scarves, wardrobes organically become more sophisticated and cosmopolitan regardless of your age. You can be a 20-year-old wearing them and look super chic, or an 80-year-old and do just the same. They are timeless.”
Somers describes having a psychographic, rather than a demographic for her ideal customer. “She’s an enthusiast of life and all it has to offer,” she says. “Our clients are naturally curious, well-traveled, and have a real appreciation for craftsmanship and unique things. And she’s already established that she likes to play with her style. One of my favorite things has been seeing how these women take our scarves and make them their own.”
In creating Deseda and securing its future success, Somers knows that she needs to connect with her customers in multiple ways.
“At the most basic level, our scarves are fashion accessories,” Somers adds. “People are buying them because they love the colors, or how they look and feel, or how they accentuate their look by bringing personality and vibrance to classics they already have in their closets. We need to check these boxes first.”
Next, Somers aspires to clients connecting with the stories behind the scarves.
“This is another reason our artists are so important to our business,” Somers says. “We had a customer who came into our store and bought a scarf designed by Kasia Niemczynska, a Polish artist. She loved it so much that she came back and asked if we might have another one she could gift to her Polish grandmother. She knew how much this would mean to her. This is the power of connection.”
Just this year, Somers started a new marketing initiative called “Make Ties Tuesdays,” where she hosts a weekly Instagram Live to connect with the DESEDA community on a variety of fashion and design topics—including the artists behind Deseda’s scarves. It’s a time for Somers to talk with the artists about the creative process, how the collaboration works, as well as other work in the artist’s portfolio.
“We really had so much momentum going into the holidays last year,” she says. “Now it’s my job to keep it up! For example, we have a fantastic wholesale relationship with the museum shops at the Art Institute of Chicago. This is such a perfect partnership that continues to grow. And we’re expanding into other small boutiques to see how Deseda can be a fit for their clients as well. That’s why I see adding to my team in 2022. We have sparks of a fire burning and now we need to get the gasoline. Where can we get some gasoline?” Somers adds with a laugh.
The Deseda storefront in downtown Lake Forest’s Market Square was an unexpected blessing in Somers’ first year of business. “Ben, Lydia, and I had only moved to Lake Forest in 2017,” she says of her family who relocated to Lake Forest from Chicago. “It was always part of my long-term business plan to have store, just not so early on. But a short-term pop-up turned into a longer-term stay, and it’s truly been the most wonderful place to base the Deseda headquarters. I have met so many lovely people in our community through working at the store—and I’m so grateful that it has all worked out that way.”
DESEDA is located at 266 Market Square, Lake Forest, shopdeseda.com.