Best Friends-Turned-Business Partners

The duo behind Harper & Tucker – newest fashion boutique in Wayland Square – share their story

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When Dakota Whitworth and Natalie Swift met at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, little did they know that their budding friendship would soon evolve into an exceptional business partnership.

After graduation, the two found themselves growing restless in corporate careers in Dallas, Texas. Dakota was at the buying office for a luxury fashion retailer, learning about the industry. Natalie had worked for an education nonprofit in Denver, gaining exposure to financial operations, but left to join her best friend in the Lone Star State. The pair decided they wanted to do something bigger, something that utilized their shared love for style. It started with six months of after-work planning, and then a business primarily built online and run out of apartments and tiny office spaces offering in-person styling and shopping appointments. However, they welcomed the idea of a brick-and-mortar and in 2017, the 20-somethings launched their first fashion boutique Harper & Tucker – named for their respective four-legged canine companions – in Dakota’s native Newport.

Flash forward a year-and-a-half later, and the dynamic duo is comfortably settled in the store’s second location in Wayland Square, which opened less than six months ago. Despite their combined career histories, both insist that what they’ve learned about business has come from starting and running their very own. Dakota shares that they “never stop learning.”

The pair finds that their new East Side storefront perfectly complements their coastal location on Newport’s Bellevue Avenue. Wayland’s ever-growing community gives them the opportunity to offer brands and style points that weren’t known to the area – like California’s Cleobella and Oahu’s XIX Palms – adding that “the ‘busy’ seasons [at each location] are complementary, and the stores are close enough that both of us would be able to consistently be at both sites,” and continue meeting with and styling clients.

For now, the friends plan to continue building their collections online and in-store, but hope to open additional locations and expand their presence both in and beyond Rhode Island. Find Harper & Tucker partnering with small, local brands and companies for trunk shows and pop-up events this summer. 210 Wayland Avenue