Inside Deborah Kent’s


Deborah Kent's Instagram

An inside look on featured outfits inside, Deborah Kent’s, one of Tampa’s famous boutiques.

Kennedy Gilbert, Staffer

Deborah Kent’s is a South Tampa sanctuary for some people; when you walk through the doors, there is always a hospitable employee ready to help you find your dream outfit. There is Champagne placed on the main table on Fridays, and every other day of the week, there is some small treat waiting to greet you. The atmosphere is comforting and makes one feel that they are in their own home. You can find yourself receiving help from a plethora of women who work there.  

Laura: the manager of the store, helps organize the trunk shows, assists in buying, oversees customer follow-up and merchandises the store. Hailey: the social media guru who runs all media platforms, including the website. She also serves as a stylist and a sales associate. Ashley: an exceptional stylist and in charge of inventory. Karen: the head of PR and a fantastic stylist that will do what it takes to get any outfit to your exact taste! Dorilee: the fabulous manager and bookkeeper. It is her job to cover the whole store and style. Ms. Deborah Skyrms: the owner and buyer of the boutique. She is known for her soft-spoken personality but remarkable fashion-business skills.    


Laura likes to think that “every day is a new adventure at Deborah Kent’s.” She is like a kid in a candy shop every time new merchandise comes in through the door, no matter what it may be. To her, clientele is the equivalent of family. “It’s reminiscent of a family reunion that never ends,” Laura said. If she could live in one outfit for the rest of her life, it would have to be a long black skirt, easy tank, and a cardigan/leather jacket with boots. One staple piece that should never go away is motorcycle boots.   


Hailey never lives the same day twice, which keeps everything interesting. Her favorite aspect of work is playing with new arrivals and styling them to her liking, “It feels like a creative puzzle,” she said. She feels that working for a smaller company is like being a family dynamic. Hailey’s ideal outfit is a whimsical summer dress and an oversized sweater with straight jeans and boots. One piece of clothing that should always stay around is wide tan trousers. “They’re extremely versatile and easy to wear multiple ways to make the most of them,” she said.   


Dorilee’s favorite part of coming to work every day is seeing the clients she has known for years and has developed strong relationships. “It’s exciting to be able to see the person and show them new styles we picked out with them in mind,” she said. The most challenging part of her job is not having the size or color someone is seeking. “It’s tough because there is a dependence on vendors to get the specials to us, to sell to our clients,” she said. One item that should never go out of style is a black dress. “You can pull it out and dress it up or down depending on the occasion,” Dorilee said.  

Ashley and Karen: 

Fashion has impacted Ashely and Karen’s lives tremendously! Ashley claims that fashion has shaped everything in her life. “I started working here at 16 years old, starting that young and staying with it leaves a large mark in my life,” she said. She likes to think that fashion design can help you get better with interior design. “They are both similar and flow together because it’s just a matter of colors, textiles, and fabrics,” Ashley said. Her ideal outfit would be leggings, Pedro Garcia boots, and a comfortable sweater. As far as Karen goes, all her thinking starts with the idea of fashion and branches out from there. “It’s all about thinking of color mixes, texture mixes, and being challenged to make the unordinary work, “she said. An outfit that Karen feels will never get old is a slouchy cashmere sweatshirt, with a black suede boot and a pair of soft, slim leg jeans.   

Deborah Skyrms: 

As for Skyrms, the best-kept fashion secret is the challenge. “There is no easy path, and you must be willing to get your hands dirty and go home exhausted every day,” she said. “It’s like Christmas day, opening the boxes and sharing the excitement with my clients.” She shared some definite tips for going into the business. “Stay with any job you can and be the best at it,” she said. One word to describe Deborah Kent’s is curated. One piece of advice to tell your younger self would be, “Savor every minute of the journey; you will experience some of the most incredible moments! Enjoy them,” Skyrms said. She thinks one piece of clothing that should never go out of style is a black cashmere sweater. How does Skyrms define success? That’s easy! “Success is doing what you love and making a living,” she said. When asked about taking your dreams and turning them into a reality, she answered, “Absolutely! I started imagining “my store” when I was 13 years old gift wrapping in a local antique store; I never stopped working toward it,” she said. Fashion will evolve, but in Skyrm’s opinion, she thinks in-person shopping will still be just as important. “We will all need personal interaction and service to balance technology,” she said. The advice she always lives by is: “Share your blessings, if you have a wonderful career…always be willing to give the next guy or girl a hand up to start theirs.” It is important to remember where fashion and trends come from in the first place, “Art and current events define trends,” she said. It is interpreted and transformed through a creative process and that is the product.   

It is easy to see how Deborah Kent’s has remained an effortless place filled with class and elegance. The women treasure it through their contributions through their work form, while Skyrms has “curated” her dream and turned it into a beautiful reality. These ladies have thoroughly delivered what they stand for, for almost forty years and will do so for many more years to come.