How did Elaine Turner get into the fashion world?
I started the company 12 years ago and I went to the University of Texas in Austin. I graduated, went to Dallas and worked for a small, ready-to-wear company. Then I went to New York and basically had a background in clothing and product development and design. In the late ’90s, all the big fashion houses were launching their own accessories collections. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and I was just newly married and told my husband, “I think I really want to start my own business, and I want to do it in the accessories venue,” because I felt really strongly that the market was going toward how the outfits are accessorized. It was how [the woman] was updating herself. I saw a huge opportunity to provide that customer with accessories where she could walk in and say, “I’m not going to buy a new black dress, but I’m definitely going to buy a statement clutch and heels.”
Ever since, I started making bags in Brooklyn with the manufacturer that used to make Kate Spade bags, and he would send me samples because I had already moved back to Houston. It was sort of just organically grown year by year. We sold specialty stores only at first. Then we got into Neiman’s, and then we started opening up our own namesake stores. The company’s just been stepping stones of growth. Now we make handbags, shoes and small leather goods. We have five stores, and then we’re going to open in New York, which will be six by the end of March. We’re sort of going to the direct-to-consumer model of opening our own stores and then also serving our customer online.