Joan McKeon followed her dream to create Dream Weaver, now one of the most successful art-to-wear boutiques in America. “My mom was a crafts person and a potter,” explains her son, Eric Seace, vice president of operations, who recalls the kiln Joan built in the family’s back yard in Mount Holyoke, Mass.
“Every time she sparked up that kiln, the fire department showed up just to be sure,” says Seace, who remembers following the huge red glow home from school. After a few years of touring the crafts show circuit, McKeon got the idea of supporting the artists she’d met with a retail store of her own.
And after more than 25 years on St. Armands Circle (plus a location on Martha’s Vineyard), loyal fans are dressed head-to-toe in clothes by more than 75 of North America’s finest textile artists. “Mom does the creative and I do the numbers and operations,” Seace reports. “We make a good team.” Dream Weaver, 364 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota (941) 388-1974.
In the Bag Dream Weaver is beloved by artists like Rafael Sanchez, whose handbags ($900, shown) are one-of-a-kind collectibles. Now that he’s retired, Sanchez’s limited supply is sold to no one in the country but Joan.
Can’t Live Without For Seace, it’s volleyball and windsurfing. “As long as I can play and surf, I’m a happy man,” he says. McKeon is more demanding. “I can’t live without great clothes—clothes make the person,” confides McKeon, who carries Maria Pinto gowns (at left). Michelle Obama made the Chicago-based designer a household name.
What this town needs “As Sarasota gets more urban, we need urban-chic, versatile fashions for sophisticated traveling women,” says McKeon. Seace says we all need to de-stress and slow down. He’d also like more healthy food options for busy families.
Ooh La La!
French Connection? Would you believe the owners of Palm Avenue’s newest boutiques (L’Atelier F and Paris.couture) just arrived from France and coincidentally opened shop within days of one another? At L’Atelier F you’ll find incredibly cut Fred Sun evening dresses, great Osmoge shoes ($123) and lots of fashions designed by proprietor France Engels, who’s worked for Yves St. Laurent and Lanvin. L’Atelier F, 538 S. Pineapple Ave., (941) 539-6096
Boutique Diplomatique A few steps away from L’Atelier is Paris.couture. When Sophie Cantin came to the United States with the intent of replicating her Parisian store, she fell in love with Palm Avenue. When she learned that another Frenchwoman had signed a lease a few doors down, the two met, decided their clothes did not compete, and voilà! Look for chi-chi casual brands, Les Petites (Robe Sautoir, $350) and Dimension. Paris.couture, 606 S. Pineapple Ave.,(941) 914-6020.
Fashion Francophile Wendy Getchell owns Lotus in Sarasota, and just launched a new cyber store called Knickers. At both you’ll find sweet Eiffel Tower cotton print pajamas ($152), naughty Huit lingerie (from $49) and Fragonard eau de toilette ($34) straight from Grasse, France, in an estagnon (a gold aluminum bottle that protects perfume from light and heat). Lotus, 1451 Main St., (941) 906-7080.