Elaine turner zgly1d

Image: Jenn Duncan

Turner has come a long way in the 18 years since she and her husband started a wholesale accessories business out of their Rice Village office space. When a retail vacancy occurred downstairs, they decided to sell handbags. Twelve years and eight stores later, the Houston native and her eponymous brand are a household name.

What’s your secret to success?

I think longevity is ultimately about perseverance and commitment. You’re going to fail—we’ve had stores open, and we’ve had stores close. Everything is not going to be a home run. But you have to stay above that; you have to react and be agile to what the consumer is doing and saying. We’re lucky that we’re small enough where we can. It’s a very pick-up-your-bootstraps company, and my husband and I just do the best we can.

What’s the value of brick-and-mortar in a world of proliferating e-commerce?

They’re four-wall ambassadors to your brand. It’s definitely not just handbags on a shelf. We use the stores to connect with the customer, not just through products but emotionally, to get to know them. The stores are the ultimate sensory experience.

What’s a challenge you’ve faced?

At the end of the day, it’s not a New York fashion scene, so we’ve had to work hard to get our name out there so people understand what we’re doing. But on the flip side, Houston is a supportive city, we get behind our own here, and that goes for Texas, too. Texans love Texans: If you’re a Texas designer and she’s from Texas, she’s probably going to buy your bag over the bag from L.A.

How did starting in Houston inform the trajectory of your company?

I can’t underplay the entrepreneurial spirit of this city. It’s something that has really driven me to become who I am today. Houston is such an independent place that believes anything is possible. It’s a little bit outside of the rules; we don’t have zoning; we don’t believe in sectioning off different groups; we are a true melting pot. Everybody can be somebody here; everybody’s welcome. We’re here to do business, and we’re here to conquer the world.

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