Corner Shop

Meet the Shopkeeper: La Camella

Camella Clements on why she left teaching, how the Heights clientele has changed, and what to wear for fall.

By Sarah Gabbart October 1, 2013

Camella Clements faced a watershed moment while observing her middle school students make big discoveries. Her career as a teacher just wasn’t inspiring her. With a family history in fashion (her late grandmother was a model), she set out to create a one-of-a-kind boutique with a focus on personal attention—La Camella.

Clements’s shop reads like that cool girl you knew in college’s closet. You know, the one that dropped out to follow a band and now lives in a trailer in Marfa and makes badass bracelets? That chick. It’s full of colorful, beautiful items from across the country (plus some fair trade items from across the globe). Part eclectic, part statement, part high-style basics, La Camella is a great place to add some flair to your wardrobe.

What inspired you to open La Camella?
When I moved to Houston from New York City, I felt that there just wasn’t the same kind of shopping experience here. The Galleria makes me a little claustrophobic. I wanted a more personal touch when I shop, so I retired from 10 years of teaching middle school to open La Camella. I wanted to do something creative, to take a risk, and to fully commit to being self-employed.

Is there something that really sets your shop apart from others in the city?
I wanted the shop to have a more personal feel than others I have been to. We’re small enough that we can cater to our customers—for example, if I don’t have a size someone is looking for or they don’t like the color of a necklace we have, I can call the artist or the company and have something sent over for them. I like to be able to offer custom products to people.

A very welcoming mat greets customers at La Camella.

How has the store evolved?
When I first opened two years ago, our clientele was older—more of the folks in the Heights who were established and looking to support local shops. As the Heights develops and new businesses come in, our customers are now a younger set and that’s changed the aesthetic of my shop. I like being able to be responsive to the community’s needs.

Any challenges unique to Houston?
One thing that’s hard about Houston is the seasons. Fashion is organized into seasons and you make your buying decisions about six months in advance. It’s 90 degrees and all the deliveries happening from designers are fall-oriented. I can’t sell that here until it, at least, hints at getting cooler. I’m changing the look of the shop to be a bit more Californian—their products are a better weight for Houston. An easy part of buying is that Houston is a little bit behind, so when I go to market in New York it’s like going in a time machine to the future and seeing what’s about to be popular in Houston.

Speaking of fall, any tips for getting fall fashion to work for our climate?
I think that if you stick to fall colors you can still wear summer weight fabrics. To me it’s the time of year when I transition from sleeveless to short sleeves! I’m a huge fan of natural fibers. Since we live in such a hot climate, they’re much more comfortable to wear when it’s hot outside. I’m a big fan of a nice T-shirt with a nice big scarf—it gives you a little touch of fall without being too hot.

These chandelier earrings are just some of Lauren Collingnon's unique offerings.

Any upcoming events?
A trunk show on October 23rd from 5-8 p.m. for one of our artists, Lauren Collignon. This is a special show—it’s to help Lauren in her fight against Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. She’s both one of our most popular artists and a good friend of mine, so I’m really happy to have a show that supports her and helps with her growing medical costs. 

La Camella
3122 White Oak Dr.

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