Hailing from Smithville, TX, I have lived in Austin since I was 12-years old. Upon graduating from high school, I attended Huston-Tillotson University where I earned a Bachelor’s in Business and Communications. With over 10-years of style-setting, retail experience, I have held managerial positions as at high-end boutiques and department stores. I’ve also worked for national tech corporations, major companies and the State of Texas.
My diverse background has made made me a triple-threat – business savvy, communications-oriented and fashion forward. Blending the three, I launched my childhood dream of being a boutique owner opening the doors of Altatudes in the heart of historic East Austin on September 18, 2017 – the first African American to own an upscale women’s boutique in Texas’ Capitol City! My luxury store has given me the opportunity to not only live my dream, but provide others to expand their own “tude” – my term for “style”.
Altatudes is a high-end women’s clothing boutique sewn in the heart of historic East Austin, TX where modern design is threaded together w/ traditional tailoring. Altatudes is the first and only African American owned upscale womens boutique in Texas’ Capitol City.
My Daily Thoughts:
Goal of the Day: Complete SOMETHING on your to-do list!
Thought of the Day: BE YOU – ALWAYS!
Action of the Day: POST! You gotta do it, so make it fun!
Deed of the Day: Do something for someone each day! You will get more out of this than they will – TRUST!
Tip of the Day: Begin with prayer and mediation. This will help sustain you for the entire day!
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
I love all Austin has to offer, but there is a true heartbeat in East Austin. A few short generations ago, this corridor was the meca-center of black-owned businesses. With recent increased diversity in this area, African Americans have elected to take their business dreams elsewhere, but beginning my dream in East Austin is what makes it even more special. Being a part of the emerging revitalization of this historic sector of the Capitol City of the biggest state in North America is a point of pride, and to me a duty. Why not East Austin! It’s an opportunity for me to give back while living out my dream!
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
I typically like hot water with honey nowadays, and love it from my favorite tea spot, The Steeping Room, a women owned businesses and I’m all about women-supporting-women!
My going-favorite right now as far as restaurants is Paul Martin’s – their brussel sprouts are to die for!
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Starting my day with prayer and mediation helps me begin my day. At 6:30 AM Monday-Friday, our grandkids Clifton (3) and Mikayla (1) call us, and this helps me start my day with reaffirming how blessed I am.
10:00 AM – By this point, I’m at Altatudes and in full swing of the day – giving my customers the utmost attention while to peruse through the gorgeous wears at the shoppe. Or, working on administrative to-do’s of the moment, or my favorites – buying and merchandising!
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal?
Blue Dalia in East Austin, another woman-owned establishment. I tell you I absolutely despise tomato soup, but what they are doing with their tomato soup is pure magic! I have it nearly every day!
7:00 PM – I’d better on my way home and prepping for the next day!
11:00 PM – Hopefully, I’m in bed (but to be honest, I’m likely working on and responding to Instagram and Facebook posts, researching and doing paperwork).
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been obsessed with hot water and honey. I have this once a day – sometimes twice a day! It really makes me feel good!
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
#altatudes – did you really need to ask? 🤭
What should everyone try at least once?
An outfit outside their comfort zone! You never know what fashion adventures it’ll unleash!
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
I addition to my family, I love getting lost in the beautiful fashions at Altatudes! Each piece is hand selected my me and models my many styles and fashion aesthetics.
My Native AdVice:
How did you get into the industry?
I’ll start by saying, you asked….!!!
Fashion has been and is my passion. Owning my own boutique has been my desire since I was a very young girl.
Seventeen years ago on a second or third date with my then-boyfriend/now-husband Lamont, I shared my dream of being a boutique owner. Fast forward to Valentines Day 2017, he gifted me space to turnkey on my dream, in the very area I expressed 17-years earlier – in East Austin! We immediately got busy with the built out and I opened the shoppe September 18, 2017.
To me, fashion is a tool for a form of personal expression, a way to allow the public a glimpse into who you are on any given day, at any given moment.
Style is the unique rendition of that declaration.
Why’d I get into this business? I LOVE clothes! I love all types of clothes because they allow me to use them as another vehicle to speak to people and let them know who I am. I also believe style, which I call “tude”, can be a mechanism for building confidence and self-esteem. I am well aware that if a woman does not feel good in her mind and heart she will not feel good in her clothes, so expressing one’s self through style can help to buildup one sense of self. And, it starts with self-love!
I began this journey as a child through DIY conversions of shoebox boxes into boutiques, making outfits for paper dolls, “designing” Barbie, Mrs. Beasley and Drowsy dolls clothes, and mix and matching clothing from the only source to be had in the country area of Smithville, the ever-popular Sears catalogs.
Later, the journey progressed into collaborating with my cousin Janie and grandmother Johnnie Bea on patterns creating my own looks and designs! I was hooked! The older I got the more specific I became on how I wanted my garments to look. To be the same, was boring to me, so I was blessed to have these two as my own “personal” seamstresses. I really came into knowing and understanding what it was that I loved for me. Friends would ask me to help them select something for events, activities and dates, and I was more than glad to assist!
I am literally living my lifelong dream as the owner and operator of boutique! Since opening September 18, 2017, with the space gifted to me from my husband, my upscale women’s apparel boutique, Altatudes, was off and running!
I have been able to offer its customers unique garments made of high quality fabrics. I source my wears both locally and globally. I have enjoyed a steady increases of sales that indicate the business is moving forward, an as CEO, my primary objective is to see that positive trajectory continue. Since opening its doors, Altatudes has experienced steady growth of clientele, in-shoppe traffic and increased revenue, as well as a healthy attention from the local media.
My nearly 30+ years in retail, local and corporate business and community service/volunteerism have helped me build a robust network to attract reliable, repeat customers.
Additional pre-training with Leadership Austin, Leadership Texas, Leadership America, and CityWorks Academy afforded me skill sets to generate leads via: social media marketing, client following-up, and person-to-person networking. These skills help me make potential customers aware of promotions, discounts, sales, and events.
Attending new functions further expand my network to build new relationships that equate not only to sales, but also a loyal customer base.
Career advice to those in your industry?
(Keep an open mind! Listen to the advise of those you can trust and that have your best interest at heart! Heed to what makes sense to YOUR business and YOUR plan. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ – this is your business, your dream and at the end of the day you’re the one accountable to its success. Don’t be afraid to fail. My grandmother said, “Nothing beats a fail, but a try!”, so no matter what, you’ve already won just by trying!
Lastly, I would advise to embrace the fear. With the aforementioned unknowns, comes ‘fear’ and that’s natural, and there will be many times fear will visit. Embrace it full on, and when you’re done you will have an unbelievable sense of self and success.
Any emerging industry trends?
Designers, manufacturers, and shop owners are beginning to embrace larger sizes. Where we once saw more sample sizes hanging onto our racks, you’re beginning to see sizes 14 and 16, and even larger. Additionally, as the spotlight zooms in on Austin, it does so on our fashions. With our embrace of the eclectic and flare for the different, it seems to me only natural that Austin will and is becoming a focal point in the fashion industry, and I am thrilled to be a part of it!
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Altatudes is a hop, skip and a jump from the city’s main business corridor and the seat of Texas’ state government. One of our objectives is to carry something for every occasion – from a brisk morning coffee meeting to a summer wedding.
We love it when folks stop in and browse and find the piece (or pieces) that speak to their “tude” (my word for ‘style’).
How do you motivate others?
Being the first and only African American upscale womens boutique owner in Texas’ Capitol City, I want Altatudes to become a positive fixture in East Austin.
I’m very self-motivated to work hard every day. I come from a very driven family and married into an even stronger work ethic. Whenever I feel low, I think about how hard my grandparents worked each day, and how hard my husband works now – it certainly stokes the fires to level-up!
I believe this shows through and others see that I’ve come back to this area to begin something positive in this community, in this city. I believe by just my being here and working hard, that that inspires and motivates others to live their dreams and give back.
My Native AdVantage:
What are my aspirations?
My personal aspiration is to continue being a fantastic Yaya to my grandkids! They are truly my heartbeat and I couldn’t imagine the last three and a half years without them!
My business aspiration is to continue to provide gorgeous, high-quality apparel for my customers, and grow and expand my business to serve my customer even better.
My Biggest Success?
I was blessed and fortunate enough to not only marry the love of my life, but receive the absolute best step-daughter in the process. This receipt has given my the biggest joys (successes) ever – my two grandchildren.
My Most Challenging Moment?
I would venture to say, one of THE biggest challenges for me was the actual launch of my business. I was making excuse after excuse, and my husband/bestie pushed me and it’s been moving forward ever since. I’d never opened a business before, just dreamed of it, and here I was with the opportunity of my lifetime, and scared! But, I just embrace the fear and push through!
Sidebar: A daily challenge is not getting one of everything I curate! It’s hard not to have the pieces I’ve selected! I’m a perpetual shopper and ‘I HAVE A PROBLEM’.
“Choose your friends as if your life depended on it.” My mentor, August Swain, told me this many years ago and although I had inadvertently lived like this, I intentionally live this way now. And, I love Maya Angelou’s adage: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Without a doubt, my husband Lamont. Although, our businesses are VERY different (he has a real estate investment business and a landscaping service) he has an incredible work ethic and his business acumen is impeccable. He’s my go-to for candid and accurate advice concerning business to-dos (and not-to-dos). When it comes to business, he is brutally honest with me. I know he’ll tell me the things I need to hear as well as those things I might not want to hear.
What Else to Know?
I look forward to folks shopping Altatudes both in-shoppe at our historic East Austin location and www.altatudes to get their “tude” on!
And, attending our event, initiatives and activities that they can stay apprised of at our social media or online presence.
Until then, STAY STYLISH!