Friends and neighbors for over 18 years, Debbie Rank and Eryn Elliot do everything together—they work out, go to book club, and drink together. They even run a small business, Two Tequila Sisters, where they create custom embroidered jean jackets, together. “This was a way to convince our husbands that our drinking time was actually work,” Rank jokes.
Everything started back in the winter of 2017, when the pair decided to try and recreate a $400 denim jacket Rank’s daughter wanted. “Eryn and I drank wine and made this fabulous coat for my daughter,” Rank explains, “but she opens it on Christmas morning and says ‘yeah, that’s not really what I wanted.”
Though Rank laughs about how it wasn’t her daughter’s taste, the coat caught immediate attention when they placed it on Etsy, and Rank and Elliot found themselves $400 richer after a quick sale.
Rank and Elliot thought denim-jacket making would be an occasional hobby, but they were soon thrust into the big leagues after a surprising acceptance into the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market just a few months after that first creation. “We thought we would be sitting around the pool, drinking tequila, and making a coat every so often but now it’s full-time work,” Rank says.
They were a hit at the Nutcracker Market. In a matter of months Rank, a lawyer, and Elliot, a fashion design major, went from selling jackets to friends from book club to crafting various designs and custom-made masterpieces.
Now, three and a half years after that first coat and roughly 2,000 jackets later, Two Tequila Sisters has designed for clients across the globe from Australia to England, but still find their most popular jackets are the ones dedicated to their H-town roots—think Astros players, and the Texans’ logo.
“I think with everything that’s gone on the past couple of years between Hurricane Harvey and now COVID-19, people are really Houston proud that we’ve gotten through all of this,” says Rank. Due to the Houston shopper's rich appreciation for our own music, art, sports, colleges, and more, the Two Tequila Sisters along with their team of tailors and seamstresses have been busy creating H-town-centric pieces.
Two Tequila Sisters’ jackets begin at $250, but pricing depends on what fabrics and accessories you choose to include in your design. Most of the colorful, beautifully embroidered jackets are custom designed, so your only limitation of what it’ll look like is your imagination. “If you can think it (after a drink, of course), we can make it,” their website reads. The company has crafted designs featuring portraits of Frida Kahlo, bluebonnets, and even one client’s own tattoo across the back.
As if their jackets weren’t unique enough due to their incredible blend of fabrics, pins, and personal touches, each one comes with a worry doll inspired by a Guatemalan legend. You tell all of your worries to the doll, place it under your pillow, and by the morning it’s taken your worries away and you can wear your denim completely care-free. Between these little tools for serenity and the best friends’ dedication to making each denim detail specific to who you are, they turn an everyday accessory into a wearable storybook.
Though COVID-19 has put a strain on many businesses, the Two Tequila Sisters, used to doing nearly 50 percent of their business online, are happily accepting orders. In fact, Rank says the design process with their clients is still the most rewarding part of the business (even if sharing a cocktail has to be done over the phone).
“It’s like build-a-bear for adults with liquor,” Rank says. “Everybody is so grateful for our work, and they like to be part of the process. Talking with them, seeing what their ideas are and how we can bring that to life, that’s the fun part.”