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Texas Chic

Karina Drake, owner of Alexa James Baby, on how she is bringing contemporary New York style to the rapidly growing hipster hot spot of Austin, TX.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS When I opened Alexa James Baby last summer, I put just as much money and effort into the physical space as the inventory. I hired a talented interior designer to help make the boutique feel beautiful yet different. The store is very spacious with calming colorways and Boho-chic décor. Everything is curated thoughtfully—never squeezed on a rack or stuffed on a shelf.

GO THE EXTRA MILE(S) I grew up traveling and was most proud when I found something particularly beautiful to bring back and share with friends. I now apply that passion to my assortment, having a good mix of established brands and completely unheard of treasures from other countries. Beyond shopping in Dallas, I happily make the trek to the New York market. Next season, I even plan on attending Playtime Paris to find more little gems or larger brands that want to be represented by one boutique in a city the size of Austin.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE While I don’t have lots of smocking or monogramming (both very popular in Texas), my selection still appeals to traditional Southern grandmas and trendy urban moms alike. Most importantly, I always buy with three strong price points in mind: $50, $100 and $300. I find that most customers spend around $150 on a gift.

SEAMLESS, PLEASE Coming from a very buttoned-up advertising background in New York, I love when buying is seamless. Working on a platform like NuOrder or Brandboom always makes the interaction so much easier as opposed to using an Excel sheet. It’s also a treat when brands send over quality images, so I don’t have to coordinate a photo shoot.

GET A SECOND OPINION When you’ve been staring at your order long enough, it all starts to blur together. I often rely on trusted friends who work in the industry to weigh in on my buy. Being in the store so often, I’ve also become very close with my customers who are very open about what they prefer. The more opinions you welcome, the better idea you’ll have of what will stick in the future.           

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