We had the good fortune of connecting with Debbie Slack and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Debbie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I always wanted to own my own retail store, beginning back in high school. Once I got a business degree from college, I was not earning enough to support myself and start a business at the same time. I decided to learn everything I could about the world of retail management and buying from others. I spent many years working for small & large retailers like The Limited Stores, Foley’s, Neiman Marcus & other smaller specialty boutiques. I also learned the wholesale side of the business by working as an account executive servicing some of those same retailers in the Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana markets.
Once marriage and kids came along….time simply ran out. (or so I thought). In early 2018 through my neighborhood contacts & Houston friends, I learned of an opportunity to purchase an existing business from a woman who was dying from stage 4 breast cancer and who’s husband promised her that he would find a buyer for her store and not liquidate.
The rest of the story is still evolving. I did not expect Hurricane Harvey, the fall floods, the freeze, Covid-19 and the aftermath, including being shut in for 3 months.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Our business is a brick and mortar retail gift boutique that offers monogramming & personalization services. We are unique in the sense that we truly are the neighborhood “shop around the corner”where everyone is welcome.
We are extremely proud that we’ve been able to remain open in the same location since 2007. Many, many obstacles have come our way, including the onslaught of online shopping & free shipping; natural disasters like hurricanes, floods & freezes; the national pandemic and the economic & health concerns that have resulted and the challenges that come with managing our social media platforms while staying relevant to our customers.
It has not been easy. We continue to overcome these challenges by remaining open, maintaining relationships with our existing customers and constantly seeking ways to engage and attract new customers.
We are proud of our curated assortment of merchandise and do not offer all of our products on line. Our monogramming and personalization services are the best in the city and we encourage our customers to share their stories with us as they stop by to say hi or to shop.
We are successful because day after day, week after week, year after year…….we show up. And we will continue to do so.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start with a trip to the museum district and take her to the Van Gogh exhibit at MFAH, followed by lunch at Le Jardiner (assuming we could get a reservation!). I would also take her to the Museum of Natural Science to see the Butterflies and any other current exhibits there. The Lester & Sue Smith Gem vault is tops on that list! A trip to Glassel school of art and a visit to the sculpture garden would be a nice addition.
I would take her to eat at the original Ninfa’s on Navigation Street for the best Tex Mex and then head to an Astro’s game at Minute Maid. After the game, I’d walk over to Sambuca for whatever live music might be playing.
A morning/afternoon of shopping at River Oaks District followed by late lunch @ Bloom & Bee at the Post Oak Hotel.
Then possibly a movie that evening at one of several new rooftop theatres that are popping up near downtown.
A trip to NASA is a must which would likely take most of the day. I’d then head down to Pier 6 for a great happy hour & dinner.
We would have to cap off the week with an overnight in Galveston…..specifically drinks on the rooftop bar at The Tremont, followed by dinner at Rudy & Paco’s. Accomodations would be at Hotel Galvez. The final day would start with a sunrise service on the beach on the west end of Galveston and a relaxing afternoon at the beach.
And of course….we would be constantly checking my weather app with Frank Billingsley to make sure we were appropriately dressed.
Last but not least….if time permitted……a complete day of beauty pampering at the new spa at the Houstonian so my friend will go home relaxed, refreshed and rejuvinated!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My success is 100% attributable to my family & closest friends. I would never have learned of the opportunity to purchase my business had my Houston neighborhood friends not recommended me. Once I started the due diligence process in purchasing the business, my family…..especially my spouse totally encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
Once I purchased the business, I quickly realized that my faith in God and the continued support of those same friends and family were going to be the key to pushing forward through such unprecedented times.
Photo by Sydney Slack Photography