Happy Heart Day! I could not think of a better time to share one of my favorite small businesses in Dallas: The Loveliest. Since moving back to Dallas I've had the pleasure of getting to know the Britni and Kelsey, the sisters who own the beautiful embroidery shop with their darling mama. Essentially, I've forced them to become my friends. And though my weekly visits might make me a full fledged stalker, I can't stay away from them and their store and my love (pun intended - especially today) and admiration just continues to grow.
Britni and Kelsey have managed to perfectly mirror their personal aesthetic onto their brand. They're incredibly warm (and happy, and kind) and their charming southern roots (they grew up in Abilene, TX) compliment the bohemian undertones and layered mix of clean, traditional (but not boring), sweet (but not sugary sweet), and whimsical (but not trendy) offerings they so carefully curate. My soft spot for entrepreneurial women - especially sister operations - is well known but that's not the only reason why I'm crazy for The Loveliest. Standing out in the vast world of retail can be difficult but and these sisters have managed to set themselves apart with unique monogram options (done with extreme attention to detail and quality), lovely linens, special decor items and tabletop pieces, and thoughtful gifts and accessories. They love each other and it's impossible not to see that same love reflected in every inch of their brick-and-mortar store and on each page of their online shop.
I did a little Q+A session with the Kelsey and Britni as a way to get to know more about them and showcase what makes The Loveliest so special...hope you enjoy it on this Valentine's Day!
Q: How did you take the leap to opening The Loveliest?
A: We have always dreamt of creating a business together, but in true Wood girl fashion, we really just took a leap of faith in actually going for it! Britni and I had both lived all over the country since graduating from SMU and both decided in December of 2014 that it was time to start thinking about moving back to Texas to be near family. While home for Christmas, we spotted a darling house for lease in the Fairmount District, which is one of our favorite areas in Dallas. Within a couple of weeks, we had found our storefront, purchased an embroidery machine (which we had no idea how to use) and were headed to market in NY for our first buying trip! We hit the ground running when we got back to Dallas and opened our doors in May of 2015. While creating our brand has been a lot of work, it’s also something that has come rather naturally for us. From the look of our shop to the lines we carry and the monograms we design, we always try to stay true to what we personally love.
Q: How did you decide on making Dallas the spot to open the store?
A: Dallas is a very sentimental place for us. We love this city! Growing up just three hours away in Abilene, we spent a lot of time here as children. As I mentioned above, Britni and I both moved here to attend SMU, but then moved away after college. Our parents still live in Abilene and will likely move to Dallas in the near-future, so when we decided it was time to actually go for it and start a business together, it was a no brainer as to where we do it. Dallas has been the perfect place to create the business, but we are having so much fun that we plan to expand beyond Texas soon!
Q: I know that your mama’s linen collection was the starting point for your joint love of linens, but how did you decide to embark on embroidery and monogramming as the hallmark of The Loveliest?
A: We felt that there was a real void in the market for monogramming and embroidery that we could identify with. We weren’t finding the linens or the designs that we were drawn to, so we decided to create our own!
Q: As someone who is not a “monogram girl,” your options have totally changed my view of the traditional (or stereotypical?) monogram styles we usually see. Did you have this in mind when you were creating and choosing the styles of monograms you would offer?
A: We hear you, sister! Neither one of us have truly ever been the traditional monogram type. However, we have had such fun coming up with non-traditional and modern designs that appeal to even the least likely of monogram fans. We know that we’re not the only ones offering unique embroidery options, but I do think that our attention to detail is a rarity. Perfectionists to a fault, we even use the matching bobbin when stitching an item so that it looks the monogram looks the same from both sides.
Q: I love the color combinations you all come up with when pairing linens with thread colors and the mix of boho and traditional products you offer. How do your personal tastes and aesthetics influence what you do/buy for the store and the brand?
A: Our rule of thumb is that we must be able to imagine everything that we buy, design or create in our own home. It’s been really fun to see all three of our aesthetics come together to create a really colorful and thoughtful variety of offerings.
Color is so important to us! We’ve been able to base not only the branding, but the products of our store on color. It’s so important to know how colors work together. It’s easy for a design to look too sweet or too masculine, but being able to use the right colors, the design on a whole looks very balanced. That is something that we hold ourselves to in every design!
Q: If you all were a monogram style you offer, which would you be?
Kelsey: I would be Crepe Myrtle and would pick Forget Me Not for Brit
Britni: I would be Hollyhock and would pick Ginger for Kelsey
Britni and Kelsey: We both think that as the Queen Bee of the family, mom would be Cherry Blossom
Q: What are the best and worst parts about being small business owners?
A: As with any job, there’s always the good, the bad and the ugly, but we absolutely love our new role as small business owners! What could possibly be so bad about waking up every day, working with your mom and sister from a darling little white carriage house, visiting with customers who have become great friends, and putting our heads together to create beautiful things? If we had to complain about something/anything, it would be that we never feel like our work is really complete. From buying for the shop to keeping up with online orders, creating our own line, handling our own graphic design and marketing efforts, and so on, it’s a lot of work! All worth it though!
Q: What are the best and worst parts about retail?
A: It is no secret that the retail world is a tough world to be in most of the time. We’ve seen trends that we didn’t even know existed until we decided to open a retail store! Hence, why we quickly discovered it was imperative that we create an online shop that would allow anyone to shop from anywhere at anytime. We knew that we wanted to try and create the same enjoyable experience that we offer in the shop, but in a way that doesn’t leave one feeling completely overwhelmed while choosing from a computer screen. Now that our online shop is off the ground and our customer base is growing on a national level, we are even more focused on create awareness of our brand on a larger scale.
Q: Because Sally and I get asked this a lot: how do you like being both sisters and business partners?
A: We honestly have no complaints! How often do you get to speak your mind and know that you won’t get fired for it?! Ha. We really do have a blast working together. There are certain things that we have each ended up taking ownership over, but we truly try to make most decisions together on everything from buying for the store to coming up with new monogram designs to managing finances. The best part about being business partners and sisters is that we both understand how much we each loved our former careers. When given the opportunity for Britni to travel back to Los Angeles to style a photo shoot or for me to consult on a political campaign or event, we push one another to take it!
Q: What experiences from your past careers help you today with The Loveliest?
Kelsey: We have all worked in creative roles prior to starting The Loveliest, but each of our careers have been quite different from the other!
Britni was a Style Editor for Martha Stewart Weddings before moving over to the Anthropologie brand to start their wedding shop, BHLDN. She went on to start her own styling company and continues to style for various magazines and brands. As her sister, I feel like I can say that she has a way of making everything look perfect. From changing the store around from week to week and making everything look new, to designing many of our beautiful custom monograms, she is hands down the most creative person I’ve ever known.
Our mom owned a children’s clothing store when we were much younger, which she also did a lot of the designing for. She has such an eye for design, is quite a lover of textiles and a lover of people, which are all things that are a huge asset to The Loveliest!
My background is rather interesting because of the different arenas in which I’ve worked in. I have always loved interior design and so enjoy styling homes for customers and friends, but my background is primarily in special events. The majority of my experience was in the political arena, where I worked on the 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns, followed by a position with The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which I continue to care so deeply about.
Between the three of us, we manage to make it all happen and are just so grateful for this opportunity to create something wonderful together.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and biggest celebration?
A: Our biggest challenge is weathering the nature of a brick and mortar retail store. Our biggest celebration thus far has been the launch of our beautiful website! Every single item was photographed in-house, every detail was seen to, and it was a true labor of love.
Q: Aside from the launch of the website (which is amazing) and offering all your in-store embroidery options and products online, are there any future plans for The Loveliest you all can share with us?
A: Yes! We are in the process of creating our own line of table linens, pillows, bed clothing and baby accessories, with plans to grow a presence in markets beyond Dallas.