It’s a First World problem, sure.
You’re running, biking, playing tennis or soccer. Your headband keeps slipping off your head.
Or — if it stays on — it gives you a headache.
That’s the dilemma Dari Herman faced.
Dari Herman and friend.
A lawyer in New York, Washington and Boston, she worked in TV, and handled NBA player endorsements for a sports agency.
She also volunteered for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Central Park, helping fundraising participants run half and full marathons.
But that pesky headband kept slipping off! There had to be a better way…
During lunch hour and on weekends, Dari headed to the Garment District. Through trial and error — and despite having no background in design or sewing — she finally created a no-slip, not-too-tight headband.
The secret: velvet lining, and an elastic outer piece.
Some of Sparkly Soul’s products.
Dari is a lawyer, so her next step was clear: filing for a patent. She got it.
She was not an entrepreneur. But she soon became one.
In 8 years, Sparkly Soul has grown big. The company produces all the Boston Marathon headbands for adidas, and the New York Marathon for New Balance.
Earlier this summer, they added a retail outlet.
A few years ago, Dari — who grew up in New York City — started looking for a place to expand. She and her husband (a Westchester chiropractor) wanted a place with a real community feel; somewhere they could get involved in daily life, and grow roots.
The Boston Marathon headband.
They looked all over: Boston, with its Marathon connection. Florida, where Dari provides headbands for runDisney races.
They weren’t sure where they’d end up. But, they told each other, “We’ll know it when we see it.”
“It” was Westport.
They looked at storefronts on Main Street. They ate at the Spotted Horse, and headed to Compo.
Everywhere in town, they felt the same vibe. “It’s beautiful,” Dari says. “But the people really make it. They’re as nice as the town. And there’s so much energy.”
She did notice empty storefronts. She does know that the future of retail is dicey.
But Dari is convinced that a company with roots in the community can thrive. “You have to have faith in your business, your product and yourself,” she says.
Dari and her husband moved to Westport 2 years ago. Sparkly Soul opened in early July — opposite (ironically) the now-closed Nike store.
Sparkly Soul’s new storefront.
Community response has borne out Dari’s faith. Word of mouth is strong. Customers love her headbands for men, women and kids. Sparkly Soul also sells sports and fashion accessories, and Westport-themed gear.
The Main Street space also includes her company office. Dari would like to bring her factory — now in New York — to this area too.
She wants Connecticut vendors too. Whatever helps our economy, she’s ready to try.
Westport-themed accessories, on display at Sparkly Soul.
Dari is a downtown booster. She’s attends merchants’ meetings, took part in the Sidewalk Sale, and looks forward to the Fine Arts Festival. She’s eager to host any kind of function in her store.
Dari is a runner (and triathlete) herself. She’s run 10 New York Marathons, and 2 in Boston.
In addition to feeling part of downtown, Dari has felt welcomed by Westport’s running community. She does the Roadrunner races every weekend, and made many friends through them.
If you see her on the road, just wave.
She’ll be the woman with the cool, fashionable — and no-slip — headband.