Emerson Rose boutique is tucked between the Heights General Store and Torchy's Tacos on W. 19th Street, and according to co-owner Bonnie Reay, she already feels right at home. "We have only been open a few months, but we're so excited to be here," said Bonnie, who owns Emerson Rose with her mother, Ann.
An eclectic mix of new and vintage, Emerson Rose is "a little more rock n' roll" than Ann Reay's first boutique, Bliss, a gift and apparel boutique in Sealy, TX, where Bonnie got her start in retail. "Here [at Emerson Rose] we are doing a lot more apparel--Bliss is about 50/50--and we're a little bit more "rock n' roll" while Bliss has a bit more of a country feel. Opening Emerson Rose gave me the opportunity to try out some funkier lines."
If you're looking for a rodeo outfit with more edge than fringe, Emerson Rose is a good bet--but you won't stop there.
There is a lot of eye candy at Emerson Rose, and you can start by checking it out on the store's Instagram feed. When Bonnie was starting out with her mom at their first boutique, she helped out with marketing--including social media--and it shows. Daily doses of sparkling jewelry, new arrivals, and the occasional cocktail, make shopping at Emerson Rose look like the most fun a person can possibly have. That sense of fun infuses the entire store, which looks like the beautifully-curated closet of a very stylish, funky friend.
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Stylish, affordable denim--check. Texas-chic leather footwear--check. Modern dresses in vintage fabrics--check. All ready to be styled for rodeo, with a little help from Bonnie and her trusty shop girl, Katie. Both women helped pull dresses, tops, and jewelry for me as we talked about how Emerson Rose came to fruition.
"Emerson is a family name that I've always loved," explained Bonnie. "For the store name, I added 'Rose' because I loved the way it sounded, and the balance of masculinity and femininity really appealed to me." Before opening Emerson Rose, Bonnie had her eye on law school--she had already graduated from Texas Christian University, and had taken her LSATs--but ultimately realized that she really just wanted to open another store with her mom. "I kept thinking that I'd be a lawyer, and maybe open a boutique later. My mom and I work really well together; I love buying with her because we complement one another--we reel one another in! I had this lawyer plan in my head, but this is really what I want to do."
Who is the Emerson Rose woman? Bonnie says that in the few short months they have been open, her vision of her customer has expanded. "At first I saw the girl being about thirty years old, and wanting something different; she doesn't do all of her shopping at the Galleria, she likes unique things, she probably goes to flea markets and scours vintages stores in the Heights--she wants something her girlfriends don't have! But I have been really shocked--pleased--at the broad range of women who have come in and found something. Everyone from high school girls to hip, mature women have responded well to the store, and that's awesome for me. I get to play with a lot of different kinds of people, and I love it!" In an effort to cover all the bases, Reay makes sure the store is stocked with investment pieces as well as everyday basics. "I have a dress that retails for $300, but I also have dresses for $30. I want people to come in and find both ends of that spectrum."
In addition to apparel, Reay carefully curates the jewelry and accessories she carries in the boutique. "I like the 'give back' philosophy, so I like to carry those lines. Our Giving Keys necklaces are made by people who are transitioning out of homelessness, getting their GED, and getting jobs. I also carry a couple of lines from Uganda, including a line of shoes that are hand-made by women saving for school."
Be forewarned--you may stop in for a rodeo outfit, but you'll be tempted to go home with more. Cute clothes are always great, but the friendly, stylish staff will make this your new favorite place to shop.
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