‘Dalaga’ for the woman in her prime

Dalaga boutique grows in Brooklyn

By Ryan Songalia

As young girls, Michelle and Mary Mangiliman would play shopkeepers in their mother’s closet. Now as fashion entrepreneurs, the sisters own and operate Dalaga, a trendy boutique in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section.

When Dalaga first opened its doors in 2006, its choice of location was viewed as a particularly brave one. Dalaga was the first retail storefront to open on Franklin Street, which was still a few years away from becoming the hot spot it is today.

The name Dalaga is a nod to the sisters’ Filipino roots. It was what their father used to call them during their formative years, a word that they interpreted to mean a woman in her prime.

Their business model was simple: provide an assortment of fashionable dresses, tops, footwear, bags, accessories and houseware, cater to each guest’s individual needs with attentive assistance, while keeping prices affordable. And it appears to be working.

Word quickly spread about Dalaga. The New York Magazine designated the boutique as the Best Dresses in New York City for 2010. Said the article: “Mangiliman vets her suppliers for quality and brings in new pieces weekly to appeal to the crowd that might amble past after brunch.”

Michelle (right) and Mary Mangiliman

Dalaga originally carried only Michelle’s original designs, but the selection has expanded to carry some of the most sought after emerging designers like Alexandra Grecco and Friend and Nemesis Jewelry. The store itself also expanded, eventually doubling in size.

As the business grows, so do the sisters’ ambitions.

The scent of sampaguita in New York

They recently launched the Dalaga fragrance for women, which is scented after the Filipino national flower, the sampaguita. They are even considering opening a second location, and will take part in New York City’s Fashion Night Out on September 8.

No matter how much the store has grown, the sisters remember how they got there in the first place.

“Hard work and sacrifice,” said Michelle. “Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and make do with what you have. You have to get your hands dirty and be willing to work 24 hours a day to get what needs to be done, done.”

Boxing journalist Ryan Songalia is not one to shy away from a fashion & style article. This is his first, a tribute to the entrepreneurial success of two Filipino sisters in Brooklyn.

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