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South Beach Street Chic

designer Sara Campbell

Campbell’s style includes bright colors, ruffles, and feminine touches while still keeping with a nautical theme. Photo by Terry Pommett

In July 2010, Campbell opened her Nantucket shop, a charming, 800-square-foot building on South Beach Street with Sara Campbell’s signature black and white-striped interior walls and two rocking chairs outside. Last year was a lesson in learning to run a shop in such a seasonal place—Campbell says she didn’t budget enough inventory to last through the fall. This year, she’s planning to keep the shop open for four-day weekends through the winter. The atmosphere in all her stores combines attentive customer service with the comfort and familiarity of a small boutique. “Basically, when you come into our store, you should feel like you’re coming into your living room,” she says.

In addition to Wheeler, whom Campbell considers a huge and very positive influence on her own design work, Campbell’s team includes longtime co-designers Kay Thread and Amanda Bartlett as well as head pattern maker Maria Rosa Oggianno. The use of color remains a central part of the design process at Sara Campbell LTD. “Being from California, I have a fascination about climates and how to inject color into New England sensibility,” Campbell says.

Campbell’s design styles appeal to women with tastes for clean looks with an emphasis on feminine details as well as vintage-inspired clothing with modern twists. Many of the designs incorporate elements outside the mainstream—chartreuse green, large amounts of small bows, and exceptionally detailed trims. Ninety-nine percent of the fabric Campbell uses is imported.

The designer’s clothing transcends age. “Our fashion is about women who are ageless in spirit,” she says. “I know that sounds trite. But a 22-year-old or a 65-year-old can wear one of our tunics with crocheted pom-poms on it. It’s not about age. It’s about attitude.”

designer Sara Campbell

An employee fixes a mannequin outside of the store whose dress is similar to her own. Photo by Terry Pommett

When it comes to the range of goods offered in her shop, there’s something here for everyone. Summer dresses start at around $100, and the fall collection at $250. Instead of high-end jewelry, Campbell carries quality costume jewelry that ranges from $12 to $350, including vintage treasures, and scarves that range from $25 to $350 Pashminas and silks. In the fall, Campbell’s specialties are coats made of imported fabrics with elaborate details.

A key aspect of Campbell’s business philosophy is giving back to the communities that surround her stores such as hosting functions for charities and nonprofit groups like the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club. In the future, the retailer wants to devote even more energy to the neighborhoods that surround her stores.

“Neighborhoods keep us true to the mission of being a part of the community, not just fashion,” says Campbell. “Feeling good, having fun shopping experiences, and keeping small businesses alive are all parts of the picture.”

Sara Campbell LTD is currently working on a special collection unique to the Nantucket store. The designs will include rubber-stamp prints, nautical-inspired cotton prints, and pieces that demonstrate her ever-present sense of whimsy.

You might be in a sour mood, Campbell says, “but put our clothes on, and you’ll definitely want to have fun.”

Terry Pommett is a photographer and freelance writer based on Nantucket.

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