hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


Arts & Culture August 2023


Local shop, global connections

Fair-trade boutique boosts women artists, makers from near and far


Dayanis Bowie, owner of the DB Trends boutique in Ballston Spa, shows customers Jude Hughes of Amherst, Mass., and Sandy Staniec of Syracuse an “air plant” from Guatemala that grows without soil. Joan K. Lentini photo


Dayanis Bowie, owner of the DB Trends boutique in Ballston Spa, shows customers Jude Hughes of Amherst, Mass., and Sandy Staniec of Syracuse an “air plant” from Guatemala that grows without soil. Joan K. Lentini photo


Contributing writer


A young boy glided up Front Street on his scooter on a weekday morning last month as his mother strode along nearby, peering into storefront windows.

She stopped abruptly at 32 Front St., the home of DB Trends. Curious about the displays of handcrafted baskets, pillows and other items, she whispered to her son to wait for a few moments while she indulged in a bit of retail therapy.

Serendipity is often how first-time customers are born, explained the shop’s owner, Dayanis Bowie, who founded her business several years ago and recently relocated to a larger space.
“I began the concept for this store, sustainable home decor, in November of 2019, four months before the pandemic hit,” she explained ruefully. “It was a challenging time.”

Bowie’s business began as a way to fulfill a longtime dream: to create a space for women artists and entrepreneurs to celebrate their talents and give them broader exposure. From the beginning, an integral part of her mission was to sell women-made items that are sustainable and fair trade.

“I like to collaborate with countries using the fair-trade programs, such as India, Central America, Spain, Portugal and Indonesia,” Bowie said.

Her original storefront, just down the block from her current space, was a mere 500 square feet, but word of its unusual contents began slowly to spread.

“Then Covid shut everything down for several months,” Bowie recalled. “I was very overwhelmed by the whole situation. But as women, we don’t give up. We keep pushing and come up with ideas.”

She credits her husband, Darvin, for his help and encouragement in staying the course during such a difficult time.

“I thought about expanding when we were shut down,” Bowie said. “I started putting ideas in my notebook and making calls to women makers and artists to see if they would want to be in my store. They were struggling too, and we helped each other.”

Bowie reopened her brick-and-mortar storefront in July 2020 even as she simultaneously kept building an online presence through her website and Instagram account. Business slowly grew, and last November she relocated to her current location, a spacious 950-square-foot, sun-dappled store with gold-coffered ceilings.

The new space has allowed for expanded inventory of her sustainable home-decor offerings that include candles, soap, artwork, jewelry, pillows, skincare products and cooking accessories.
The inventory is a testament to resourcefulness and creativity from around the globe. Artists and entrepreneurs from as far away as Bali and Australia are represented along with some from Saratoga County.

Bowie’s own dried floral designs from her nearby home garden grace the corner of the store known as the Bloom Bar.

“I’ve always done dried floral arrangements,” she explained. “I wouldn’t call myself an artist. I create things. And I love gardening.”

She pointed out her artfully arranged bouquets of dried roses, daisies and ferns gently gathered and tied with a paper DB tag.

Nearby were bouquets of dried flowers indigenous to Australia and an array of ‘Air Plants’ from Guatemala.

“Air Plants are indigenous to Central America and grow without soil,” Bowie explained. “They can be placed anywhere and only need good ventilation and a small amount of water.”
She added that a percentage of the profits from Air Plants go to a Guatemalan school for children.

That charitable practice is par for the course at DB Trends, said Jennifer Branco of Saratoga Springs, one of Bowie’s longtime customers.

“I like to call DB Trends a shopping destination,” Branco said. “There’s no place in the area like it -- I love the tropical vibe and unique aesthetics.”

But Branco said it’s the intangible qualities of the owner that set the shop apart.
“Dayanis loves to promote, support and give hands-on help to other women entrepreneurs truly out of the goodness of her heart,” said Branco, who owns the Saratoga Springs boutique The Noble Edit. “She believes in community, opportunity, and room for everyone at the table.”


Sharing each artist’s story
Some of the most popular items at DB Trends hang prominently on the wall in a select grouping.
“These are molas made by ladies in Panama,” Bowie said with a smile. “See how colorful they are? The women often are inspired by dreams they’ve had, and so they make a mola out of it.”
Mola is Spanish for “fabric art,” explained Bowie, who is a native of Panama.


“Sometimes customers come in and say, ‘My gosh, you have molas,’ because they’ve traveled to Panama and know about them,” she said. “I treat my customers like family. It’s part of my country’s culture to be welcoming, have nice music, and make a beautiful setting.”
Bowie said much of her trade is repeat business from women who live nearby.

“They love the fact that we’ve created a space for women makers, not just in the United States, but from around the world,” Bowie said. “I just took on a new entrepreneur from California who’s a single mother of four and makes soap and bath salts.”

She continually searches online to scope out new artists for her store, and customers and friends are always providing suggestions.

“I get a lot of recommendations for new artists,” she said. “The first thing I do is say, ‘What’s your story?’ because everyone’s story is so different and that’s what I like to share with my customers.”

Some of them include the skin care collection, whose proceeds help a wildlife charity in Hawaii; whimsically empowering stickers made by a teacher from Schuylerville; and Thistle Moon scented candles made in the town of Malta. Bowie’s shelves also feature comfy cotton throw pillows from India, sturdy wooden cooking spoons crafted in Bali, and lampshades woven from dried palm leaves by women in Morocco.

“Dayanis is so kind and genuine to everyone who walks in the door,” Branco said. “Sometimes people stop in just to say hello to her.”

Branco recalled a favorite item she purchased a few years back that captures the appeal of the boutique and its owner.

“It was candle in a carved stone vase with a summer scent,” she said. “It was from a collection that she had made for the shop that was dedicated to her baby nephew. He was born prematurely and passed away a month later; a portion of the proceeds from that collection are donated to birth trauma and disability support organizations.”

Bowie, as she anticipates the shop’s four-year anniversary in November, modestly shares credit for the growing popularity of the business.

“I could not have done this without the support of my husband and living in such a great community,” she said. “The village of Ballston Spa is a wonderful community and a great place to have a business. Ninety percent of businesses here are female-owned. I have gotten such support from the Ballston Spa community. It’s a small village but with a big heart.”

For more information on DB Trends, visit www.db-trends.com or call (518) 288-3006.