Our Founder

Deborah Van Cleve

“To be a leader in my industry, you must keep reinventing your brand, stay relevant and take the calculated risk.”
Deborah Van Cleve

  In the beginning, the Van Cleve accessories boutique was born into a 100 square foot springhouse. It was an exciting adventure for Deborah Van Cleve. A Houston, Texas transplant, the entrepreneur had previously worked in the design business, but knew that moving into retail would be a natural progression in her career.

  Since moving to Philadelphia, Van Cleve has been known as a visionary with a “go big or go home” attitude. It only took a few years for her to move her accessories boutique into a slightly larger space, which allowed her to add sportswear to her collection, and then to Lancaster Ave. continuing her story in the Main Line—where her business was housed for 20 years.

  But after moving into the larger space, she wanted more. So, she went to New York to seek out gorgeous evening dresses. It was then that Van Cleve Evening was born, which remains a stronghold in the company today. And with this, even more growth happened. In 2008, the building next door became available, which allowed Van Cleve to add a bridal section—against anyone else’s advice. When the economy crashed in 2009, all retail took a deep dive, and the impact that could have heavily affected the company was made up in the bridal business that Van Cleve launched only a year earlier. Since then, she has moved her business to the Van Cleve Pavilion—still located in Paoli on the Main Line, outside of Philadelphia— allowing her business to grow even larger to house other women-owned and operated businesses.

  Van Cleve is a strong example of an industry leader who had a vision, and did not let anyone stop her. She will always give credit to the village of smart and caring women who helped to make her dream team and company thrive. Her business has been built on knowledgeable stylists who care about their clients, carefully curated collections of stunning evening wear, magical bridal gowns, beautiful bridesmaids dresses, excellent seamstresses and—because it’s where it all started—amazing accessories.

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