Workshop Meets Retail

Meet the Shopkeeper: Myth & Symbol

Trang Nguyen on Houston, what she is buying herself the day she turns 30, and why she doesn't sell any "voodoo things."

By Julie Bortnick May 30, 2013

From left, Chau and Trang Nguyen

Sisters Trang and Chau Nguyen opened Myth & Symbol back in July, with Chau's husband Roque Strew and Ameet Gaitonde. While they are coming up on their year anniversary, I asked Trang to share her store's concept—from the Indie rock playing in the background, to the handwoven dressing rooms, to the array of independent designers Myth & Symbol supports.

What was your first job and how does it compare to your job now?

My first real job was at Gap, and it was much more hectic than Myth & Symbol. While a store like Gap has one person designated for the dressing room, one person designated for denim, our store is more intimate and more of a personal shopping experience. We get to know our customers and are with them the entire time they are at the store.

How did you come up with the concept of Myth & Symbol?

My sister and I were tired of not being able to find the brands we like in Houston. We would always end up going online or to Austin or New York. We figured we can’t be the only ones in Houston who feel this way, so I guess we did it a little bit for us and a little bit for Houstonians. We carry only independent designers and everything in the store is very unique.

What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?

The hexagon diamond ring by Satomi Kawakita is my favorite. When I turn 30 that’s what I’m buying myself. It’s a brown diamond and takes on such a vintage look. I’ve never loved diamonds, until this one. My other favorite item would have to be a briefcase by Building Block (a line we recently started carrying). It's such a 'big girl' bag. I stare at it literally every day.

Where do you shop when you’re not at your store?

I honestly buy everything at our store because we carry everything from jewelry to clothing to books to some home goods. If I’m not shopping at our store, I’m shopping for my boyfriend. I also love Target for home essentials, of course.

What do you like about the neighborhood?

People who come to Rice Village to shop love to support the mom and pop boutiques. I also love that you can walk around outside from store to store, as opposed to going to an indoor mall. Our street is an eclectic one, and I love it. Main Street Theater is across the street. We’re next door to a salon.

What nearby coffee shops or restaurants do you recommend?

I love Local foods. I also love Croissant Brioche (chocolate croissants are my favorite). Sweet Paris is also great.

What is something people might not know about your store?

We have workshops after hours.  We’ve had art workshops, such as making hanging planters, stamp and release carving class, and we have one coming up on June 23rd called Zine 101. We are partnering with Houston Zine Fest and they will be teaching it. Our store is not just a clothing store; it’s a place to meet. Nothing in our store is built in because we originally wanted it to be a workshop space. The wooden table in the center was custom designed to be a workshop table. The shelves slide off, we clear off the product, and we’re ready for a class.

What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened in your store?

Because of the name, people never really know what kind of store it is. People assume it’s a magic store. Two men came in recently and asked if we sold voodoo things and magic dolls and books. I was like, "no no this is a women’s boutique. "

Myth & Symbol: 2537 Times Blvd., 832-422-6984, Tuesday-Saturday 11am-7pm, Sunday 12-6pm, Monday closed


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