Neena~Apparel for Movement
When we first met Deneen Carmichael in August, she was happily pursuing a new chapter in her life—the opening of Tempo Dance Studio, which specializes in ballroom and Latin dance. As a competitive ballroom dancer who spends many happy hours training and dancing, Carmichael has put her studio management days behind her to embark on a completely new journey toward fulfillment—her own clothing store: Neena~Apparel for Movement in downtown Middleton.
Using her dancing experiences and love of fashion for inspiration, Carmichael’s store specializes in comfortable, stylish clothing that allows women of all shapes and sizes to go about their daily activities, from running errands to meeting friends, with minimum clothing changes and maximum versatility and class.
Curious? So were we. We tracked down Carmichael to chat about her new business venture and get the 411 on what her new store has to offer.
Why did you decide to open Neena?
It was a really natural transition, but an unexpected and fast one. Neena~Apparel for Movement officially opened March 5. When I had the dance studio, I had to focus on running it and had little time to do my own dancing. When I opened the store, I made a personal commitment: I wanted balance between being an owner, spending time with my daughter and competing in ballroom dancing. I’m dancing now more than ever in my life.
What kind of clothing does Neena offer?
If you had to choose one word for the clothing, it’s comfortable. We have three components to the store, all of which are interchangeable.
First, it’s casual, everyday wear—this clothing takes you through your day, from work to running around on the weekend, to going out in the evening.
Second, it’s for functional fitness—these pieces can be worn for yoga and Pilates while also having a fashionable edge.
Third is our clothes for dance wear—great for dancing, but can also be worn out at night.
What kind of experience do you want women to have when they walk into your store?
A friendly one. All of our staff enjoy interacting with people. We want to make the shopping process relaxing and fun, and make sure everyone feels comfortable. We listen to what customers want, get to know their lifestyle and understand what they like so we can pick things that will work for them. Women in this town are very busy and active—they shouldn’t have to sacrifice time and style. If the clothing feels good and it’s functional, women can feel great.
How do you choose what clothes to have in your store and where do you look for inspiration?
We go to markets, find clothing through vendors, search the Internet and have people tell us about lines they like. When choosing clothes, we consider a few factors: First, we want unique, new lines no one carries in the Madison area. Second, the clothing must be high quality but reasonably priced. Third, the materials in the clothing must be gentle on the planet but also feel good to wear. Lastly, we look for classic, rather than trendy, styles with flattering silhouettes and colors that will last for a long time.
What about the brands in your store? What are some of your favorites?
My favorite is Sense, from Santa Fe, N.M. This line, launched by a former dancer, has incredibly comfortable pieces made from very gentle, environmentally friendly fabrics. They have classic styles and silhouettes that are perfect for a broad range of ages from 25 to 55.
Beyond, from Santa Monica, Calif., is another favorite. The designer has created simple, flattering clothing made with high quality materials. The line has fitness, yoga and general lifestyle pieces. Everything is very stylish and a great fit.
Neena~Apparel for Movement is located at 1827 Parmenter St., Middleton.