“The horrible rain year. When was that? The year with The Roots.” Donna Orr, co-owner of the eclectic style shop, Dear Hearts, in Durham and City Plaza main stage manager for Hopscotch Music Festival, is quick to recall her worst Hopscotch experience. But other than that year, she says, working at Hopscotch has been a tiring, exhausting, but worthwhile and relatively smooth adventure — she’s not even had any crazy antics from acts like The Flaming Lips and A-Trak. (“They’re all pros with pro crews,” she adds.)
Making her way to North Carolina from Los Angeles, Orr attended the inaugural year of the now established Hopscotch and fell in love. She says, “When I heard the festival was looking for some people to fill a few open roles, I sent in my resume and met with Greg [Lowenhagen]…. and I’ve been manager for the City Plaza stage ever since.”
But it wasn’t such an easy decision. A decade-plus veteran of the music industry, she found herself a bit jaded with the festival scene, but in attending Hopscotch that first year something changed — something that led to a cross-country move, a new city, a new scene and a new job. She adds “[that] sounds a little extreme when you say it out loud, but hey, it’s the truth.”
In North Carolina, however, she found more than just a festival; she found a community willing to embrace the type of business she’d always dreamed of creating, but never had the right place in which to do it. In L.A., it just wasn’t feasible — from the type of people to the expense of storefronts, it wouldn’t work. But her dream of “opening a place where you come in and don’t just shop, you get to know the people running it” finally found a home, Dear Hearts — a vintage, local, inspired and extremely personal style destination in Durham.
While Orr and her business partner are soon closing the storefront to focus more on the online and music styling side of the business, they’re certainly not slowing down. They’ve recently worked with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Eaux Claires in Wisconsin as stylists for the festival. They work with long-time friends Sylvan Esso, who played Dear Hearts grand opening, on everything from styling for photoshoots to tour items.
So with a blending of style and music experience, Orr has found a job no one else really has. “I didn’t even realize it was a job,” she says. And she hopes to add three or four festival stylings a year to her efforts, while staying true to her roots — building relationships with artists and the community to be the bridge between music and style.