This is the first in a series called "About Town," which will feature cuteheads in photoshoots at some of our favorite local businesses. We'll feature pictures as well as profiles of the location where we're shooting.
Model wears cuteheads Marsala Dress & cuteheads Garden Pindot Dress. Photographer: Ashley Cardoza
I was one of those dreaded brides: the kind that simply could not make a decision. I must have tried on 200 dresses, and that is not something I'm proud of. Buying a wedding dress turned out to be a very stressful situation for me, but in the end, I settled on a gorgeous gown from local boutique Casa de Novia. I fell in love not only with the sweet shop, but with owner Luvi Wheelock, who understands what it's like to run and business, have a family, and still try to get some sleep once in awhile. It was only natural that when we decided to launch this series, we start at Casa de Novia. The light inside is gorgeous, the staff is incredibly helpful, and I'd be lying if I wasn't a little excited that Vera Wang herself featured this campaign on her Instagram. Without further ado, meet Luvi.
What made you want to start a business?
I had a wonderful at experience at every bridal salon I went to in Houston when I was searching for my gown, but the type of gown I wanted was not easily available. I wanted a very simple gown with beautiful soft and light fabric. Most gowns eleven years ago were satin ball gowns. I never had that "aw" moment when I settled on my dress, but it was pretty and worked for what I envisioned. A couple months after my wedding, my husband and I were casually talking about the market in Houston and we both knew there was something missing in the bridal stores here. My husband and my family encouraged me to open up a store! I had no bridal experience and no retail experience prior to opening, so I thank them every opportunity I have for giving me the courage to open something on my own.
Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion and/or bridal?
I graduated TCU with a finance degree but knew all throughout college that I was going to work in fashion somehow. It truly is in my DNA and I have an incredible passion for clothes. I know that my talent is my eye for finding things that are new and fresh and being able to put wonderful looks together.
You're not only a successful business owner, but also a mother of two. That must be challenging. What's a typical day like for you?
My two daughters and my husband are number one for me every single second of my life. My husband is incredible and so helpful. Creating a balance is extremely difficult at times because I'm involved in retail. I take my girls to school every morning and pick them up in the afternoons and stay home with them in the afternoons if I can. There are days where I have to go back to the store and stay until late, but I try my best to limit those nights a week. On the flip side, I am so fortunate to own my own business because I can schedule things around their activities. Lastly ,but definitely not least, I have an incredible team at the boutique. I am so lucky to have these wonderful co-workers to count on because they allow me the special time I don't want to miss with my girls!
You somewhat recently transitioned into a bigger space, opening a boutique that sells ready-to-wear fashion and not just bridal. What has it been like to grow your business?
It was such an organic growth and I love that nothing was forced. I started the business in 2005 - 10 years ago this year! I loved our [original] space on D'Amico where we were for 8 years. I took over the garage and at some point converted the atrium in the store into a ready-to-wear boutique. It wasn't until I used up every square inch of that place until I finally caved and knew in my heart it was time to grow somewhere else. I love The River Oaks Shopping Center and adore our space. The brides have suites where they can feel more private while having fittings, there is a lot of natural light, and most importantly, it has the same easy going feel. Atrium has been such an amazing experience. That again had such a natural start. My clients from Casa de Novia loved asking me to help them pick out dresses for their bridal events- showers, luncheons, rehearsal dinners, honeymoon looks, etc. I LOVED that part of it and after doing it for so long I thought it was just too silly not to pass up an opportunity to start something fresh and totally different.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Online shopping is my biggest competitor in Atrium. We have always delivered on approval to our clients and that helps quite a bit. There is nothing better than trying things on at your house with your mirror and your clothes and accessories all there within reach. For Casa de Novia, I think it's just that there is so much out there. It's really hard for some people to make a decision.
Do you have any advice for others who are interested in opening their own businesses in the fashion industry?
Work in retail before you even think of opening up something. When you have your own business, there are incredible benefits like meeting new people and having something to grow on your own. But you also are always a slave to your business. A vacation isn't ever a vacation because your mind is always on your business!
As I prep for a segment on Great Day Houston this morning, this is what I'm thinking about. Happy Monday!
The ladies, from L to R: Stephanie from Newlyweds: North, Megan from Willow Crowns, me!, Sukaina from MACARON by Patisse, and Veronika from Veronika's Blushing (links below)
That's cookies and cream on the right there... a must-have.
The cuteheads Spring collection
The Willow Crowns Spring collection
An expectant mama doing some shopping for her sweet baby
My child was a big, big fan of macarons. Who isn't?
Snacking on my favorite flavor, Birthday Cake
This past Saturday, I teamed up with local designer Megan Birkel of Willow Crowns and blogger Veronika Romeis of Veronika's Blushing for a cuteheads Spring collection reveal and trunk show at local macaron boutique MACARON by Patisse. If you plan a lot of events like I do, then you know two things: 1) they are a LOT of work, and 2) you should keep your expectations pretty low then surprise yourself ;) To say we were surprised by the turnout would be an understatement; we couldn't believe how many people stopped by and said hello. It was a pretty special day.
I finally got to meet Stephanie of Newlyweds: North, who works with Megan and actually lives in Maine. She flew in just for the occasion and we're SO glad she did! Veronika was the consummate hostess, and she even convinced me that I had to try the Earl Gray flavor macaron, which is now one of my favorites.
The owner of MACARON by Patisse, Sukaina, welcomed us with open arms and made us feel right at home all day. She's not only kind, but a true business power house, with two locations and... surprise... another on the way! Watching other female business owners grow their businesses in the city we all love gives me a lot of pride.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that my sweet husband Doug brought my daughter Naomi by to sample her first macaron. I can promise you, she loved every bite. And there were a LOT of bites. She ran around the shop -- obviously high on sugar -- demanding more "snack." My kid's an eater, what can I say.
To shop the new cuteheads collection yourself, head to cuteheads.com/new arrivals and pick out your favorite pieces. New items launching all the time, so follow us on Instagram to be the first to see and preorder these new beauties.
Down here in Texas, we have a thing for rodeo. If you're from basically anywhere else, it might be hard for you to understand the sheer size and impact that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has here in town, so here are a few facts:
1. Number of volunteers: 28,000 (yes, THOUSAND)
2. Number of livestock and horse entries: more than 27,000
3. 2014 education and scholarship commitment: $23 million
4. 100,000 funnel cakes and 33,000 ears of corn are consumed each year (an important and relevant fact)
Not only is it an incredible sight to see all of those animals, but there's a great carnival and fair, tons of live music from big name performers that stretch weeks (this year: John Legend, Pitbull, and Miranda Lambert, to name a few).
Of course, the cutest event of them all is the Friday before rodeo officially begins: Go Texan Day. The entire city dresses up to welcome the trail riders into town. This is the day on which, if you were from out of state and only here for the day/weekend, your stereotypes about "everyone in Texas riding horses" would be confirmed, because grown adults are literally riding horses through the main streets of town.
In honor of this annual event, we've lassoed up (see what I did there?) a couple of recipes that are quick and easy to make at home to help your family get into the spirit.
1. Coconut Oil Cowboy Cookies
2. Cowboy Caviar
3. Chili Lime Grilled Corn on the Cob
This weekend, I, along with a few other incredible women & business owners, will be hosting a Spring trunk show at Macaron by Patisse, arguably the best macaron in town (OREO. TRUST ME.)
When I look at the invitation (lovingly created by Jennifer Cerda, the best in the biz), I'm reminded of how far cuteheads has come as well as how many incredible relationships I've developed over the years. Unbeknownst to me when I started cuteheads, there were many handmade businesses based here in Houston, even though I often felt alone doing what I was doing. There was this network of support and collaboration that I just had to find. And I've found it.
Megan creates gorgeous, dainty bows, headbands, floral crowns, and basically anything else you can dream up for your child to wear on her head. I'm told my daughter has a reputation for wearing & actually keeping headbands on now, and I can safely say that the majority of the headbands you see her sport are from Willow Crowns. I've gotten to know Megan over the course of the last year or so, and we've already successfully collaborated before, so this was a no-brainer to ask her to come on board for this event. Her daughter Liv is one of my faves.
Veronika of Veronika's Blushing is not only a blogger who writes about everything from fashion to career, but she's a mom, a wife, AND she works full-time. I admire her commitment to everything she does, and couldn't wait to ask her to host this fun trunk show. She's got great style, the most insanely gorgeous hair, and the sweetest little girl, Harper.
Sukaina Rajani is the owner and brains behind Macaron by Patisse. Friends, starting a business is hard. Like, REALLY hard. But this lady makes it look easy. She's incredibly kind, fun, and inspirational. But maybe most importantly, the product speaks for itself. I kid you not, these are the best macarons I've ever tasted. You're going to walk out on Saturday fully stocked with delicious treats, guarantee it.
We look forward to seeing you on Saturday. Little ones welcome, of course. Stop in for a sweet treat & a sip of bubbly and a little Spring shopping. Can't wait to meet you. xo
I'm a big fan of handmade products for my daughter for a number of reasons. I like the idea of shopping responsibly for her (in other words, I don't want my kid wearing an outfit made by a kid). I also love the #shopsmall movement and think it's important to support small businesses if I expect them to support me. This romper was designed by one of the first handmade shops I purchased from, Boucle'dor Designs. She sells the most amazing cotton topknots and clothing for kids, and I encourage you to check her out.
Shoes: Mini Melissa
Headband: another fellow Texan and friend, Willow Crowns
I can't contain my excitement over the launch of our SS15 TOPS. Much like our dress collection, these tops are simple, understated, but comfy and cute. They're perfect for school, running around the playground, or your little one's busy social calendar, no doubt full of birthday parties. The Sugar & Spice top shown here features gorgeous gray cotton and black vegan leather trim; perfectly on point for the upcoming season.
Don't forget to sign up for the mailing list to be the first to know about our newest pieces, rolling out all season.
I was lucky. I thought I had avoided the dreaded constant drooling that everyone told me about before my daughter came along. She cut an entire mouth of teeth early on and barely skipped a beat or drooled at all. Then... molars. MOLARS, YOU GUYS. I've never seen so much drool. It was everywhere: all over her shirt, dripping from her mouth, on the dog. Enter the treasured bandana bib. Although I try not to dip into our inventory, this was an emergency situation. These have completely saved my life, and my daughter's wardrobe. I love that they can be neutral enough to blend into any outfit, or colorful enough to make the outfit. Best of all, they don't even look like bibs, so you won't have to worry about your child walking around looking like he or she just ate.
Love is in the air, and today we've got an OOTD that features some of my all-time favorite shops.
Card: from prosecco to plaid
Clip: RYAN + WREN
February, the month of luuuuv, is upon us. And what better way to celebrate than to shop small with these incredible handmade shops? We're always thrilled to promote and work with other small businesses, and we've gathered together the essential handmade Valentine's Day gift guide for your last-minute shopping needs.