Before opening their upscale home decor hotspot, Lerant, in the mid-1990s, Judy Agee and Jaleh Sallee were leading quite different lives in Indonesia. They met through their husbands, who worked together overseas, and became fast friends, raising children who were the same age.
Fast forward to when their husbands relocated to the Bayou City to start their own companies, and Agee and Sallee remained close in their new Houston homes. Shortly after settling in, a friend pitched them an unexpected opportunity: What if they opened a business together?
Though Agee was working as a teacher and Sallee as a pharmacist, the two weren’t going to let their fear of uncertainty or lack of business experience hold them back. After quite a bit of planning, Lerant was born in 1996—planting its roots right across from the Galleria. The store, which prides itself on offering a unique, extensive collection of luxury decor, tableware, drinkware, and more, became a hit.
The pair say loyalty between the store and its clients are what’s led to their years of success, growth, and happiness.
“It’s just loyalty at the end of the day,” says Sallee. “The clients that like us keep us on the map. They’re the ones that make you or break you at the end of the day because they’re the ones who have to appreciate your work and want to come back.”
However, it isn’t just the treasured relationships between staff and customers that are responsible for Lerant’s warm and inviting environment they're known for—the connections between the owners, managers, and employees are just as crucial to the company’s growth.
“Between our store managers and employees, we are very strong because everyone is loyal to each other,” says Sallee. “We don’t just have business relationships with everyone working in the store, we’re a family here.”
As a family, those at Lerant have been able to learn and grow together over 25 years in a way few businesses can. Because most of their staff members have stayed with the company since their doors opened, the shop has been able to develop personal relationships clients, whether they’re looking to revamp their living room or find new flatware for their dining setup.
If clients ask for merchandise Lerant doesn’t have in-store, staff members will do everything possible to find and bring it in. If a customer needs help decorating their home, the store manager will pay them a visit and help make their decor dreams a reality.
“If we look through our sales and see that something isn’t necessarily selling, we think, ‘What should we do to change that?’,” says Agee. “Through the years we’ve evolved into what we think our clients are looking for and what’s current.”
Even through hardships that most local businesses faced during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lerant’s ability to adapt and maintain a warm rapport with clients is what kept them alive during the several months when their doors were closed, Sallee and Agee say.
They manufactured and sold masks and made virtual shopping a priority. “Clients would call us at the store and, because we had such a good relationship with them, they could ask us to select a gift for them,” Agee explains. “We would collect the gift, wrap it, and get it to the recipient for them, and that was extremely helpful during that time.”
Though its official 25th Anniversary celebration was a small, safe event made up of longtime customers and staff, send well wishes by visiting in-person at the Centre at Post Oak or shopping Lerant's online store.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon–Sat, closed Sun. Centre at Post Oak, 5000 Westheimer, ste 114. shoplerant.com