Melissa Dos Prazeres Allard launched her online fashion business, Desk To Dusk, in 2017. She has opened a showroom at 4774 N Blackstone Ave. in Fresno.
Written by Estela Anahi Jaramillo
From cutting out pictures of clothing from magazines and trying on her mother’s business suits to finally owning her own business, Melissa Dos Prazeres Allard has reached the next step in her fashion mission with the opening of a showroom for her Desk to Dusk brand.
The personalized styling and customer service the new showroom will enable has already made way for many relationships (some unexpected) with customers nationwide. In the Fresno community, Desk to Dusk has styled people from Dora Westerlund of the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation to Des Washington with the Black Chamber of Commerce, Fresno Realtor Jacqueline Lyday and many others.
“I am humbled and grateful for every customer who has trusted Desk to Dusk to style and dress them for momentous occasions in their career/entrepreneurial journey. I am equally proud to have dressed women such as a former Miss USA and other business leaders who are in the public eye on national speaking stages and TV networks,” she said.
A new home
Desk to Dusk’s new showroom hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month. The showroom is in the front lobby of Posh Styling Salon at 4774 N. Blackstone Ave.
The foyer with floor-to-ceiling windows may be familiar. It is the former site of Dan Gamel’s Health & Racquet Club.
Details are available on Desk to Dusk’s website, thedesktoduskcompany.com.
She describes Desk to Dusk as an impact-driven fashion brand for businesswomen. Born and raised in Dubai, Dos Prazares made her way to the United States through recruitment to play college tennis. Her experiences have empowered her to build Desk to Dusk into a world-class brand that serves women globally.
“Occasionally, we would fantasize about starting a business-wear line. My mom was the original’ Desk to Dusk woman’ in my eyes. I would play dress-up in her blazers, suits and pointed-toe heels,” Dos Prazeres said.
The former Business Journal marketing consultant launched Desk to Dusk in 2017 when her daughter was eight months old. As she struggled with the transition of being a stay-at-home mother, journaling gave her clarity toward a new opportunity.
“I remember that one night in September 2017, I was journaling because I was just like, ‘what will I do with my life?’ I loved being a mom, and I loved everything new in my life. But I also wanted to hold on to a piece of who I was because I enjoyed being out and about and meeting new people, building relationships with people in the business community,” Dos Prazeres said.
She then created two lists — one of the things she was good at and the other of what she wanted to accomplish in life. The lists made her realize these two aspects of her life could be housed under one brand — supporting women in business and elevating the fashion industry.
“That’s where it all came together on that paper in her nursery room,” she said.
A fashion decision
While Dos Prazeres worked in a sales role, getting dressed up was part of the job. She faced the dilemma of choosing between suits that cost as much as her rent or business attire that featured a feminine touch.
She found herself shopping at the junior stores such as Forever 21, Express, H&M.
She forged connections with women in the Fresno business community. Many were decision makers and in front of the public eye, representing their companies and brands in the networking scene. She thought they were also searching for a way to incorporate their personal style in their professional life.
“Workwear seemed standard and monotonous, like everyone had to fit a mold. I vow Desk to Dusk clothing will never have women compromising between style, quality and professionalism,” Dos Prazeres said.
Desk to Dusk primarily serves as an online store, bringing in clientele from all over the country. The company also hosts virtual and in-person events offering resources and information promoting professional development and overall wellness.
Her online store serves a large number of clients from the East Coast. Shortly, Dos Prazeres is heading to Dallas, and other possible locations include New York and Orlando.
Dos Prazeres partners with local companies and organizations that help connect other business owners and professionals with resources, access to information, educational seminars/workshops and a supportive community of individuals aligned in their mission to empower, serve and connect.
“Being in a highly competitive market, breaking into this industry, and establishing Desk to Dusk as the go-to brand for businesswomen has been the biggest challenge. Despite having experienced growth year-over-year, we still have the enormous hurdle of effectively marketing our competitive edge while amongst the fashion retail giants in our industry,” she said.
Desk to Dusk collections are curated with globally sourced, high-quality women’s suits, office dresses and occasion wear. Some brands are from France, Spain, Asia and other places worldwide.
Desk to Dusk also offers a highly personalized, signature styling service that helps professional and entrepreneur women build a wardrobe that’s authentic to their style and brand.
Since the success of her online store, Desk to Dusk has experienced growth each year in business that has allowed her to open her first showroom in Fresno. With hesitation, as any business owner would share, she took the risk for this new chapter in her business.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” said Dos Prazeres.
Having a physical presence in the area has boosted revenue during a time of year when the business tends to see a slight decline in business-wear sales, said Dos Prazares.
Many people experience uneasiness when purchasing suits online because of the uncertainty. A storefront allows Dos Prazeres to help customers feel confident buying items such as suits online.
She has also been able to have more in-depth and consistent customer feedback.
“I am also proud of the community of powerful women in the Fresno area that has come to be through Desk to Dusk, and I hope to continue to build on that,” Dos Prazeres said.