Pop-up store in DC showcases women-owned businesses in time for holidays

The shop in Northeast D.C. is serving up more than just retail, and the founder wants it to be an example of how women can work and succeed together.

WASHINGTON — Where can you find vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, local artwork, hemp butter and vegan nail polish all in one place?

At a pop-up shop right across from the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro station.

“We literally have something for everyone,” said Yasmin Radbod, founder of Femme Fatale DC, which is the women-only collective that runs the pop-up. “Especially if you want to get someone a really unique gift that speaks to them, this is the place to get it.”

The pop-up store, housed at 100 Florida Ave. NE, bursts with color and creativity in an otherwise gray location. What was formerly the Union Social restaurant has been transformed into a cafe that serves vegan cuisine, an art lounge filled with bright paintings, and a retail area that features goods from over 50 local businesses run by women.

But before this pop-up, which runs until Dec. 24, Femme Fatale DC started out as a one-time fashion show in October 2016 featuring local designers. Radbod didn’t expect it to go beyond that, she said.

“This is just such a genuine, authentic space for people to just come in and relax and enjoy the energy that we’ve manifested,” founder Yasmin Radbod said of Femme Fatale DC. (WTOP/Teta Alim)

“Several ladies asked me, ‘When’s the next one?’ And I was like, ‘Uh … OK!’ So I just kept putting events together, which was awesome, because I got to have a lot of creative freedom and bringing in different friends of mine. And we were just organically making magic.”

Since then, Femme Fatale DC has put on brunch parties and a comedy show; this is the collective’s second pop-up store.

Radbod had moved back to D.C. around two years ago after working overseas. She had started doing music, but after a harrowing experience of sexism, she turned to work that would center women — or womyn, as spelled on the collective’s website.

Femme Fatale DC’s name stems from a Diane von Furstenburg quote Radbod had read, and after exploring the femme fatale archetype in film noir and beyond, she wanted to reclaim the term.

“It’s funny that those ideas of women have been promulgated for so long by men. And that’s also not reality, because by doing that, you’re also keeping women in a certain place,” she said.

Radbod also wants to challenge the notion that only a few women can succeed. “I think Femme Fatale [DC] is an example to the D.C. community and to all people at large that women can work together and, you know, actually can be more successful when we work together as a team.”

“We are also dealing with serious, long-term, deep-rooted ideas of what it means to be an entrepreneur as a woman,” she added. “What does it mean to be a business owner when you identify as a woman, as well. What does that come with?”

The entrepreneurs featured at the pop-up store have strong convictions of their own. Kyla Hill, owner of Get Hemp Butter, touts the sustainability of hemp-based products. Style consultant Janell Henderson of The Working Beauty uses secondhand/vintage clothing because she doesn’t support mass production and fast fashion.

“Where you put your dollar affects everything,” Radbod said. “It’s not just voting with your dollar; you are impacting people’s lives every time you buy something.”

Beyond a retail space, she hopes the Femme Fatale DC pop-up store can be a holiday destination and community space that everyone can enjoy. Whether it’s for happy hour, a wellness expo or the many other events hosted there, the doors are open.

“We just want to really invite everyone to our space,” Radbod added. “And I can’t stress enough that this is just such a genuine, authentic space for people to just come in and relax and enjoy the energy that we’ve manifested.”

The Femme Fatale DC pop-up store runs until Dec. 24. Hours are 3-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, and 11 a.m.– 4 p.m. Sundays. Their Black Friday Festival starts at 10 a.m. Find more information on the Femme Fatale DC site and its events calendar.  

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