Who needs Paris, New York, or Milan? High-fashion has moved right into our neighborhood… we’ve got three women’s boutiques right here in Lavaca, all within a few blocks of each other. Each of these women-owned shops is new — all have been open for less than a year. I spent some time speaking with the women who opened these shops about their products and plans, and, let me say upfront: ladies, it’s time to plan a gals day out.
Belle of the Ball
Tucked away between the Haven and Bar Ludivine at 1020 S. Presa, this little shop is a cornucopia of fashionable women’s clothing and accessories. Owned by Elane Lopez, its racks and shelves are stocked with items from all over the country. Elane told me she regularly travels to fashion markets in Dallas, Atlanta and Las Vegas. These markets are gathering places for vendors across the country to sell their products to shop owners like Elane. Elane has established relationships with favorite vendors from these markets, and supplements her stock with online purchases from them between her trips.
Elane looks for items that are “all-inclusive”. She wants products that appeal to women of all sizes, shapes, cultures, and ages. Recently a woman purchased a top from Elane, and came back a week later to purchase the same item, in the same size, again. She told Elane that her granddaughter ‘borrowed’ the first one she bought, and she realized she wasn’t getting it back. Elane sees that as a ‘win’ — that product had real multigenerational appeal.
When I asked Elane how she goes about determining what items to buy and in what quantities, she told me that she ‘has a leg up’ in that area, as she worked as the Director of Inventory and Distribution for Mission Restaurant Supplies for 20 years. Different industry, but a lot of the same principles regarding stocking apply. Elane really strives to know her customers and what they like, so regarding her choice of merchandise, she purchases things she likes, and ones she knows specific customers will like. When curating, she finds herself thinking things like “Jennifer would love this jacket” and “This top would look great on Susan”.
Most of Elane's offerings today are women’s clothing and accessories, supplemented with some home items and pet products. Within the year, she plans to start carrying men’s items, children’s items, and more pet products. Elane is also learning to embroider, and once she is out of ‘training’, plans to offer personalized monogramming of products.
Visit Elane in her shop, or join her every week for “Thursday Night Live” - a live Facebook session where she introduces new products that came into the shop that week.
Belle of the Ball
1020 S Presa
Thursday through Saturday (11am - 7pm)
Sunday (11am - 3pm)
For several years, two things Macey Esquivel has known are, one, she wanted to own a woman’s fashion boutique, and two, she loves this neighborhood. Since she lived in the Cevalos Lofts for a few years a while back, she knew this neighborhood was the place she wanted to open a business.
Although life took her down a different path for a while, a week before she was to take the state realtor’s license test, she noticed a ‘for lease’ sign in a shop on S. Alamo. She jumped on that, and soon after, opened Hermosas Boutique. Her grand opening was on a First Friday, August 6, 2021.
Hermosas offers women’s clothing and accessories; everything from jewelry, purses, scarves and shoes. According to Macey, “everything you need to make a full outfit”.
Macey describes herself as a ‘curvier’ woman, and her goal is to offer products that are ‘all-inclusive’ — products for women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. She hand-picks everything herself, and travels to women’s fashion and accessory markets so she can develop relationships with the wholesale vendors, and see and feel things in-person, rather than ordering anything online. She spends a lot of time scavenging for clothing that is size-inclusive and that flows with other things in the shop. Macey introduces new items in the store every couple of weeks, and she is currently working on a website and plans to offer online purchasing soon.
Being in the Lavaca / King William area is important to Macey. She loves seeing the area grow, and seeing lots of young people move into the area. And she especially enjoys developing relationships with other local business owners, doing what she can to support them. Every week she promotes neighboring bars and restaurants on social media, and she’ll send customers to other nearby boutiques when she doesn’t carry what they are looking for. Macey tells me “I’m all about women empowerment and supporting other women entrepreneurs.”
Stop in Hermosas the next time you’re strolling down S Alamo, and welcome Macey to the neighborhood.
734 S Alamo
Wednesday through Saturday (2pm - 8pm)
Sunday (12pm - 5pm)
Although The SJ is new to the neighborhood, owner Sara Jessop is not new to the area, or to the boutique world. Sara owned and operated Aquarius, a women’s boutique in Alamo Heights, for ten years. She told me that when she decided it was time to do something new, there was no question about where she would locate. Sara lives in King William and says this neighborhood is “near and dear to my heart - and there’s such a great business culture here”.
So she closed down the shop in Alamo Heights and opened The SJ. And she expanded her focus to be a ‘life-cycle’ shop that includes more than women’s fashion. Yes, her shop includes dresses, tops, shoes, and women’s accessories, but it also offers home gifts and clean-beauty products. And soon she’ll be offering products for men.
Sarah curates merchandise from all over the world. While she is interested in local designers, she also looks to designers from New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and beyond. She tells me “I look for products that are versatile, approachable, that tell a story, and ideally, not available elsewhere in San Antonio.” She spends a lot of time ‘down the rabbit hole’ on social media and gets recommendations from designers and shop owners around the world regarding products that would be a good fit for her shop.
Sara tells me that one of the trickiest issues she deals with is sizing. As a small boutique, it’s hard to know how many items she should stock in which sizes. She often chooses dress items that are loose and flowing, where precise fit is not important, and she looks for designers that can hit multiple sizes in one size. And if a customer wants something that isn’t available in the shop in her size, Sarah can often get it for her.
Sara told me “I am happy to be in the neighborhood as a business, as was well as being a resident”. And she is doing everything she can to actively participate in the community. She frequently does ‘shout-outs’ promoting other neighborhood businesses on social media, she does specialty trunk shows, she’s planning a pet adoption event, and a margarita event for Fiesta. And she highlights local artists and showcases their work in her shop.
Pop into The SJ and look around, or visit its website. Purchases can be made in person or online, and the SJ offers delivery in the San Antonio area, usually within four hours.
1112 S St. Mary’s
Tuesday through Friday (10am - 4pm)
Saturday (1pm - 4pm)
I plan to round up a few gal pals and plan a ladies day out soon. There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the area, so lunch, shopping, and an afternoon cocktail are in the cards for me soon!
Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.
The SJ womens' fashion items
Belle of the Ball womens' fashion items
Hermosas Boutique womens' fashion items
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