New stores bring California fashion and more to Westport
WESTPORT — As the state slowly opens amid the coronavirus pandemic, residents will notice a crop of new faces among the more familiar businesses downtown.
Hyde Tyde California Coastal Collectives, a women’s apparel and accessories business, is one of many new stores to open in the past month.
“The idea of the brand is to bring a California lifestyle, very resort-driven product to Westport, Connecticut,” said Alison Mcferran, owner of Hyde Tyde.
She said the store’s theme and inspiration came from her time spent in San Francisco, where her daughter Dillon Hyde was born. The business, located at 72 Main St., opened July 1 and offers a colorful assortment of clothing and unique pieces Mcferran has collected over the past decade.
“I’m also working on the label Hyde Tyde in California and India, and that product will be slowly infused in the store,” she said.
Mcferran said she has run numerous fashion businesses over the past 25 years. She has also worked for corporations like Levi Strauss & Co., Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger.
“Due to COVID, I decided to break off on my own and start my own brand,” she said. “I want it to be all about supporting young girls and women getting into the workplace.”
Mcferran said with many college students’ internships canceled due to COVID, she also wanted to provide a working opportunity for them.
Despite the circumstances, she said the opening experience has been amazing.
“It has been so positive,” she said. “People have been so excited about the brand and mission.”
Johnny Was, at 81 Main St., is also one of many new stores in the area.
Gerijo Matyka, store manager, said the name of the business was based on the song “Johnny Was a Good Man” by Bob Marley.
The store is the California-inspired, women’s clothing and accessories chain first location in Connecticut. Matyka described the style as California Boho Chic clothing.
The company’s CEO Rob Trauber is also a Westport native who graduated from Kings Highway Elementary School, she said.
“He’s excited to work here because Westport really speaks to his heart,” Matyka said. “He’s passionate about it because it’s where his roots are from.”
She said it’s been a good experience since opening on July 3 with shoppers from all over visiting the location.
“I have to say the people here have been wonderful. They’ve really been accommodating,” Matyka said.
Church Lane has also seen its share of new stores alongside Main Street. Manna Toast, an all-day cafe offering healthy foods, will open at 29 Church Lane on July 21.
Franny’s Farmacy, a female-founded vertically integrated hemp company, also opened at 31 Church Lane on June 18.
“We were the first ribbon cutting since COVID,” said Griff Conti, store owner.
The store offers a range of products derived from hemp, including gummies, honey, tea, lotions and more.
“What we also offer that no other company offers is the vertical integration,” he said. “You’ve got other companies that only cultivate and then they private label all their products or they may not cultivate at all, and all they do is private label their products.”
Conti said the story behind Franny’s and its owner Franny Tacy also separates them from similar businesses.
“It all starts on Franny’s farm which is based on Western North Carolina just outside of Asheville,” he said. “She became the first woman hemp farmer in 75 years in 2017.”
Conti said at the cornerstone of Franny’s is also educating consumers on their products as well as connecting with the community. Conti said the store looks to be a positive destination in town.
“We’re OK taking the risk to provide a safe place that people can come and find relief, provide safe access to verifiable products, support female-founded business, support sustainability and support community,” he said.