Caroline Celebrates 20 Years Of DIANI

It would be easy to say that it feels like just yesterday that I was opening the doors of DIANI for the first time, yet, it really does feel like half a lifetime. And it has been. The majority of my adult life has been imagining and reimagining DIANI, and here I am celebrating 20 years of business this month. I opened DIANI in September 2002, and over the years opened two sister stores – DIANI Shoes and DIANI Living – plus an online store. As we celebrate this 20 year milestone, I’m looking back on how it all started and how far we’ve come, thanks in large part to you, our loyal customers, and sharing some special birthday perks so you can celebrate too. ;)

With a degree and background in fashion, plus years of retail experience under my belt, I opened DIANI in 2002 after quickly realizing there was an opportunity in Santa Barbara. I found a perfect space in Arlington Plaza, which was previously Kernohan’s Toy Store, and, at the time the Plaza was also home to the Travel Store, Santa Barbara Frame Shop, Blossom Hair Salon, Pendulum Faire Clock Repair, Pack N Post, Army + Navy Recruiting Office, and The Hearing Aid Store. 

Arlington Plaza
DIANI Boutique

During the first few years, one of my biggest fans and friends was the parking attendant in Arlington Plaza (bottom right in photo). He lived in a retirement home down the street and came everyday to greet people and help around the Plaza. Those little acts of kindness and support went a long way in those terrifying early years. 

The retail part of my DNA dates back to my childhood. My father was Retail Operations Director for a bakery chain in England called Greggs. I worked at one of the Greggs’ bakeries when I was old enough to work a Saturday job. I loved the ritual of opening up shop, turning on the lights, sweeping the floor and stocking the shelves. This experience has always been a big inspiration for me, especially when I opened DIANI. And it remains one of the many things I find exciting about operating the stores today.

DIANI Boutique

Five years after I opened DIANI Boutique, I quickly found myself feeling limited when it came to styling clients from head-to-toe. They would often leave DIANI with an outfit, but still in need of shoes or handbags to complete their look, and so this inspired me to open DIANI Shoes a few doors down from sister boutique, DIANI. I brought in an array of my favorite designers, many that I still carry today, such as Aquazzura, Pedro Garcia, Alexandre Birman, Veja, Anya Hindmarch, Jerome Dreyfuss, Golden Goose, Loeffler Randall, Ancient Greek Sandals, Isabel Marant Étoile and Oliver Peoples.

DIANI Shoes

I’ve traveled extensively since I was a child, living in Kenya, England and the United States, which has exposed me to a variety of designers and crafts people. I draw on this exposure when curating brands in the stores, like Raquel Allegra, Smythe, Herno, R13, Jesse Kamm, Soeur, Mr Mittens, Lauren Manoogian, and more. I have a passion for discovering emerging designers, and was one of the first specialty boutiques to introduce Isabel Marant Étoile to the US over 16 years ago. I also focus on partnering with sustainable designers and manufactures to bring eco-friendly and toxic-free products to the stores, especially my home store.

A year after my husband, Jeffrey and I got married in 2013, we opened DIANI Living together a few doors down from DIANI Shoes and DIANI Boutique. We had wanted to collaborate on a creative endeavor together, and home decor was the perfect fit for our mutual passion for interior design. We designed and built out the DIANI Living space together – from the stone arch way to the vintage wood paneling on one wall. After a few years, we outgrew that space and were able to knock through into the space next door and develop our rug and bedding assortment.

DIANI Living
DIANI Boutique
DIANI Boutique
DIANI Living

We offer everyday home and lifestyle items that embody beauty, functionality and sustainability. From custom made cushions, bedding and candles, to linens, bath and one-of-a-kind vintage items, we curate what we would like to see in our own homes in Santa Barbara and Upstate New York. I recently expanded our collection of non-toxic skin, body care and wellness essentials, as well as minimal packaging products for the kitchen. To add living accents to your home, our on-site botany bar offers custom succulent arrangements both large and small. My most recent project has been launching a home line inspired by our farm in Upstate New York called The Stone Jug. To kick off the collection, I designed an assortment of linen napkins and will expand into ceramics and beyond in the coming months. 

DIANI Living

Community has always been at the heart of DIANI, and through the years, I've made it my goal to build that within my team and within my family of customers. And, as I look back, I'm very proud of the many events we've hosted at the stores including fundraisers for local charities, book signings, styling events and even hosted Kate Winslet for an after party following her receipt of an award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. 

DIANI Boutique, Santa Barbara Film Festival
Santa Barbara Film Festival
Kate Winslet, Santa Barbara Film Festival

Through all the ups and downs, I've been so lucky to have such an incredible team by my side, without whom, none of what I do would be possible. And to you, our customers, we are here because of you and for that, I am forever grateful. Never in my wildest dreams did I think DIANI would still be here after 20 years, and I hope to keep bringing you my very best for 20 more. To show my appreciation for you, we're offering some fun perks for our birthday month. Check them out below and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Sending lots of love,

2 comments

Congratulations! Can proudly say that I shopped there in the beginning. How fortunate I feel to have had your shops nearby. Cheers to 20 more🍷🍷

Janet Lederhaus September 11, 2022

Thanks for the history and pictures; hiring the right people; knowing your customers; and selling me all the lovely clothes in my closet.

Kristine September 11, 2022

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