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Ep 66- Crafting a Life in Style with Elaine Turner

Ep 66- Crafting a Life in Style with Elaine Turner

Crafting a Life in Style with Elaine Turner

In today’s episode of Building Texas Business, fashion entrepreneur Elaine Turner is joining us to talk about her journey of launching Edit by Elaine Turner, her luxury boutique that emphasizes mindful consumption. She shares her experiences navigating the challenging retail industry and lessons from her previous ventures.

Elaine gives advice on balancing your brand identity and adapting to changing customer expectations. Her stories highlight the difficulties of expanding business plans and finding community resonance.

She also shares her views on building teams that align with the brand spirit, which can be valuable for entrepreneurs.

Toward the end of the discussion, Elaine reflects on her personal experiences of living in Houston and Santa Fe. Elaine’s gratitude for the hard-won lessons makes her a role model for navigating the industry’s turbulence with empathy, vision, and agility.


Transcripts are generated by machine learning, so typos may be present.

BTB (00:00):

Welcome to the Building Texas Business Podcast. Interviews with thought leaders and organizational visionaries from across industry. Join us as we talk about the latest trends, challenges, and growth opportunities to take your business to the next level. The Building Texas Business Podcast is brought to you by BoyarMiller, providing counsel beyond expectations. Find out how we can make a meaningful difference to your business at and by your podcast team where having your own podcast is as easy as being a guest on ours. Discover more at Now. Here’s your host, Chris Hanslik.

Chris (00:42):

In this episode, you will meet Elaine Turner, founder of Edit by Elaine Turner. And Elaine Turner Designs Elaine’s entrepreneurial passion centers around fashion and lifestyle brands. But her true passions are serving her community and empowering and supporting women through education, connection, and philanthropy. Alright, let’s get going. I cannot wait for this episode. I’m so excited to have Elaine Turner here. Elaine, thanks for joining me today. Oh,

Elaine (01:11):

I love being here. Thanks for having me.

Chris (01:13):

So, one of the things among many I love about you is you, you by any definition, are a serial entrepreneur. And I think those are my favorite people to talk to. So let’s talk about what you’re doing today with Edit by Elaine Turner. Tell us what that is. Yeah,

Elaine (01:28):

So I just opened a new store concept here in Houston and Tanglewood, and the store is called Edit by Elaine Turner. And really the whole idea of the store was concepted from a place of renewal and redemption. ’cause we can talk about my story beforehand, but it was all about this idea of curating hard to find European luxury upscale brands for the Houston clientele who I felt like, you know, the art of Discovery. Like what else? She goes to Tootsies and she goes to Neimans and Sachs and Nordstrom’s. And we’re lucky we live in this incredible cosmopolitan city full of all the options. But I wanted just to offer her something that maybe wasn’t so out there and so ubiquitous. And so edit was really born from the art of creation. Like I will be your editor and I will go out and find these really unique pieces for you to engage in and add to your wardrobe.

Chris (02:26):

That’s great. So there’s some, there’s actually some real meaning behind the word edit then, right?

Elaine (02:30):

Yes. So edit is about not only let me edit for you and find those unique, hard to find pieces, but it’s also about, for me personally, sort of leaning into this idea of, as women and as consumers, we only ultimately need what’s essential. And I think as we age and we become more mindful about what we put on our bodies, what we put in our bodies that, you know, we don’t, it’s not always about quantity, right? We don’t have to buy like, you know, every trend that’s ever offered to us. Like we can be more thoughtful about what we choose. And so it’s about letting go of the unnecessary and really retaining what’s of value to you. And so edit’s supposed to be all about that. Like I’m saying, this is what’s of quality to you.

Chris (03:17):

I love that. I love the thought behind it. Thank you. ’cause you’re right, you can go into any story and get stuff. So, you know, this is one, this is an episode where I’m like, there’s so many different directions to go with you, but I think you’re right. You talked about renewal and redemption. You have an amazing story because this is your second go at it. And the first was successful. Yeah. Sometimes people second goes coming outta failure. Let’s talk about your passion and what got you into the kind of the fashion industry. Talk a little bit about that first venture, I think in doing that. What inspired you to start what was called Elaine Turner or Elaine Turner Designs back in what, 1999? 2000? Yeah,

Elaine (03:52):

Exactly. 20,

Chris (03:54):

Almost 24 years ago. A

Elaine (03:56):

While ago.

Chris (03:56):

Chris, you must have been an infant

Elaine (03:58):

<laugh>. I was 29 or 30 when I started Elaine Turner Designs. And really, my story really comes from an origin story of entrepreneurship. That’s the number one thing. Okay. I was born in a family of entrepreneurs and I’m kind of a believer that entrepreneurship is sort of passed on through DNA. I think you’ve gotta be a little left of center to engage in being an entrepreneur because it’s high risk. You kind of, it’s lonely, you know, you’re the one kind of putting yourself out there thinking of these ideas and visions and you’re, you know, usually entrepreneurs are trying to solve problems, right? So they’re thinking, Hey, what’s not out there that could be out there? And I watched both of my parents start companies and both of my siblings also at one time had their own companies. And so I feel like for me it was sort of osmosis.

Elaine (04:47):

You know, I was very much inspired by my parents. They were my mentors growing up. And so I always knew when I went to school, I went to UT when I majored in advertising marketing. But I always knew I wanted to do something in fashion because my mother always encouraged, you know, this is how you express yourself. And it was always done from a more thoughtful, deep way. She was saying, it’s not just fashion, you know, because of materialism, but she would literally watch me walk downstairs, say, oh, you have a gift. Like, you should really think about something in fashion. Like, this is the art of communication. You know? You mean

Chris (05:19):

She, she wasn’t one of those moms that looked at you and goes, you’re not wearing that, are you? Yeah.

Elaine (05:22):

<laugh>. Well, maybe a couple of times. You know, it’s an evolution, Chris, I’m not, not saying that I came out of the gate putting all the outfits together, right. But she always encouraged me on a much deeper level that I think this is something that you should offer the world. You know? And so even in my teens and my twenties, I knew I wanted to do something in fashion. And so I went to UT and then I immediately called a mentor of mine, Joanne Burnett, and said, I really wanna do something in the fashion industry. And she said, Hey, there’s this company outta Dallas you should talk to, and they might give you kind of an assistant job in the fa in the design area or whatever. And so it just was a super, you know, very organic growth for me back when I was ET there was no fashion merchandising program, so that wasn’t even, so I had to learn everything in the job, you know, on the job and have like mentors train me, right? But always knowing I wanted to start my own thing. Okay. And that was always there. It didn’t really happen. Like some people say that sort of happened by happenstance for me. It was pretty intentional that I knew in my twenties I wanted to learn everything and then I wanted to start my own business.

Chris (06:23):

So, you know, that’s, I hear that story a lot, but you also hear the ones, like you said, there’s a problem to solve and someone says, okay, I’ll, I’ll do this. Let’s talk about, uh, taking you back to that 28 to 29-year-old self when you said, okay, now it’s time. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, some people, you know, are scared to take that step. I mean, let’s talk about and kind of educate the audience, you know, what was it like for you to get to the point where you’re, I’m ready to take this risk. Yeah. What was that like? What did you learn from that experience?

Elaine (06:52):

Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question. I think I knew when I was 29, I had learned a lot in New York. I went from Dallas to New York and worked for several companies in New York. And I started recognizing in the market that accessories were really taking a much bigger, I would say, segment of the market. So like the big designers at the time, like Donna Karen and Ralph Lauren and all the, they were starting to do these handbag collections or accessory collections, right? Okay. Where they were really starting to kind of form a look and a name for themselves in that area. And Kate Spade was just coming on the scene and I thought, oh, there’s something there that I think that there was a void that I could fill, like an accessible price point. And I really focused on novelty applications. So I was really known for this resort wear look where I did RFI rat bags and tortoise shell handles.

Elaine (07:44):

And I did a lot of specialty leathers, like python leather leathers with multicolor. So a lot of novelty, right? Okay. From Texas. So color and bold. And so I started thinking to myself, well what if I did a small handbag collection and put it out in the market? And I really thought about my price point, ’cause I wanted it to be accessible luxury price point. And started to see if I could sell my wares. You know? And I had just moved back from New York to Houston, and my first, literally, I have this memory, my first account was walking into Tootsies and Mickey Rosemary and meeting with me in private and saying, I’ll carry all your collection on consignment for the first six months, and if it does, well then I’ll start buying it. Wow. And so I said, it’s a deal. And then that was how I started. And the bags were made in Brooklyn and he really mentored me on price and segmentation of the market and who you’re catering to and the look and feel of the bags. And he was a huge part of why the company grew, because he really helped me understand, I think, from a little bit more of a mass perspective, how to grow the business and not keep it so boutiquey. Right, right. But to be able to, to

Chris (08:47):

Kinda get a scale to

Elaine (08:47):

It. Exactly. And then I was able to get into Neiman Sachs and Nordstrom and started growing a really large business from there.

Chris (08:55):

So. Okay. As, as you got this fashion mind and creative mind, I mean, what were some of the things that you had to learn to grow that business, uh, to scale? Let’s talk about that. I mean, and if you can think about something like a failure man, that that went horribly wrong. Oh yeah. But by gosh, I’m glad it did. ’cause I learned so

Elaine (09:16):

Much <laugh> many failures and challenges and opportunities along the way. But I mean, I think that what I learned is the idea was really about offering sort of this accessible, ladylike elegant accessory line to women who I felt like that wasn’t really happening. Like as much as I loved Kate Spade, it was very basic at the time. It was like nylon little shopper bags. Right? No offense, Kate. No, we love Kate, but I, and now it’s very novelty. So we all evolved, but at that time she follows you. Yeah. At that time it was just this really simple kind of utilitarian shopper bag. And so I felt like I had a niche and like, let’s add novelty into the handbag space. And the handbags were really becoming this sort of individualistic part of fashion. It’s like, you know, wear a dark suit, but what’s the special handbag that just pops off you?

Elaine (10:06):

Like what makes it almost that final touch? And so for me, the challenges, I think what I learned is, okay, how do I retain the novelty and the specialty part, retain the price, keep the price where it needs to be, but also have a product that is appealing to a lot of women. Because I was growing scale. I mean, I was like, I wanna open stores, I wanna be in wholesale. I mean, I had my own New York showroom. And so some of the challenges, like an example was I decided to spin off and do a real high-end more ca, I don’t know, couture’s not the right line, but a real high-end luxury line in Italy. But to keep my more accessible. So like the bags were in from like 1 95 to 500. Okay. That was kind of where I sat. Well then I thought, let me go off and try these thousand dollar bags.

Elaine (10:52):

Well, it ended up being a huge flop, which is okay. But it, I realized that by doing that I grew too fast and I was trying to appeal to a different customer too quickly before the brand had really penetrated and distributed distribution enough in those places. So it was like I jumped the gun. Right. And then I don’t think I had exhausted the price point that I was in. So that was one failure or challenge that I kind of pulled back on and thought, well, I think I did that too soon. Yeah. Because, you know, it was a big investment. You’re investing in real python lovers and you’re doing it in Italy and these little family owned factories. And, but you learn from it. You know, you learn like, no, go back to your core. Don’t get away from it so quickly that I, you know, that’s,

Chris (11:35):

To me, what’s so fascinating is getting back, you know, or staying in, knowing your core. ’cause the story you just told, I’ve heard, told in many different industries, right. So it it is applicable across industries. Yeah, totally. So you kind of confused the identity of the company,

Elaine (11:50):

Right? Yes, yes, yes. And didn’t stick to a That’s

Chris (11:53):

Exactly right to core. Uh, and you have to be careful. And as an entrepreneur, be careful not to do that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And, and if you’re going to make sure, you know, I think it’s a delicate thing to do. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it’s interesting that it can happen in any industry. So right in the handbag and fashion,

Elaine (12:06):

You can dilute that core customer who’s so loyal to you. And I think what happens with entrepreneurs that we all fall a little bit victim to, and I I think speaking someone might relate to this, is that you’re constantly thinking of the next thing. ’cause that’s just, you’re always filling that void. Well like that. I don’t see enough of that at that price point. Let’s make it ourselves. Yeah. And sometimes those ideas and that vision can get ahead of you. And then you have to be able to pivot and say to yourself, wait a minute, I think I jumped too quickly. Because entrepreneurism is really about creation, right? The vision and filling the void and solving the, but sometimes you can almost go so far that you go too fast. How

Chris (12:45):

Did you regulate yourself in that? Was it surrounding yourself with, with a team? Was it just learning from trial and error and going, I need to learn when I need to pump the brakes a combin?

Elaine (12:54):

I mean, it’s a combination. I was lucky. I’ve been very blessed. My husband’s always been a deep strong partner to me. And he helped me with, at first he didn’t really get involved. He ended up full-time working with me in the business about after seven years of me being in business. And then he started really helping me. But he was always a more cautious one to be like, let’s just, let’s really exhaust what we’re doing right now. But then seemed to have a really deep understanding of timing of like, for example, I got into the shoe business and I was really nervous about that after what happened with the high-end collection. And the shoe business did incredible for me. And in fact, I think if you talk to women today, that was really the category that they were the most wedded to. Oh really? So it, but it was the timing. I had enough, you know, I had had enough brand awareness, I had multiple stores at the time. She was the loyalty and also the trust was built up at that time. Whereas when I jumped to the real high-end bags, I don’t think I was quite there yet. So a lot of things are timing, you know, when to be, you know, you have to be really thoughtful about when you do big expansion moves. And I think the shoes happen at just the right time. Yeah. That she was ready for that. Yeah.

Chris (13:58):

A lot of it is timing. Right? It is. Let’s going back kind of the high-end handbag. Uh, so another thing that’s hard for people, especially entrepreneurs to do is to kind of admit that failure. Oh yeah. How hard and what and what advice would you give to say, you gotta know when and it’s okay, cut it and say, this just was a, this didn’t work. Whatever it may be. I

Elaine (14:20):

Think it’s one of the most important things you can do being a business owner. And I mean, honestly, just being in business at, at a certain level is to know when to look in the mirror, be accountable and look at it not as a failure, but as a huge opportunity for growth. And also when that stuff happens, and it’s happened to me multiple times, it also models for the people before you that it’s okay, it’s okay to go, you know, this worked, this didn’t, so how do we get out of this in the most thoughtful way? Also the less, you know, the way economically that doesn’t hurt us as badly. But it having that courage to know when to sell, when to get out of a lease, when to liquidate a product that didn’t sell. You know, those are all just parts of being in business.

Elaine (15:07):

And I think what happens with people who end up really struggling as their egos become so involved and the pride takes over that they aren’t willing to take a step back and say, this doesn’t mean I failed. This means that I have an opportunity to change something that didn’t go as expected. Right. And that’s also personal. Like forget business. Sure. How about marriages and friendships and relationships and how we navigate the earth. I mean, sometimes we just gotta look in the mirror and say, we gotta redefine this. Yeah. And that’s actually a beautiful thing. And it’s to me, like winning in life. It’s not failure.

Chris (15:40):

I agree. I mean, I think it’s a mindset. And so I say all the time, no bad experiences, just learning experiences.

Elaine (15:46):

That’s it. I’m inspired. Yes. That’s it. I think we, you could have answered the question,

Chris (15:51):

<laugh>. Okay. So you have this going, you expand the shoes, you have stores that took people. So how did you build a team? And, and how would you, when you look back, how, how would you verbalize and describe the culture that you built at Elaine Turner?

Elaine (16:04):

That’s such a nice, I love, well I loved all of that. And I especially lived the culture and the brick and mortar aspect. I think that we spent so much time and energy focusing on the community. And we had, we were, I’d like to say we were one of the first retailers in Texas to build a charity platform within our brick and mortar where we had an event based charity platform. So each month we would hold several events and team up with charities and sort of have a win situation where we donate a certain amount of proceeds and then they get to experience Elaine Turner and what we’re making and creating. And you know, and today you see it across the board with Tori Birch as a women’s foundation. And, um, Kendra Scott has a huge event platform, but I, it was something that the brick and mortar stores were really an integrated, intimate experience with the community. And it meant that’s probably one of the biggest things that I take away that I’m the most proud of, is what I created within those stores. I really created a place for women to connect one another with one another, to educate one another, to inspire one another and to give back to the community.

Chris (17:11):

Yeah. So it is beautiful, but it takes more than you if it’s gonna transcend right. Into the different brick and mortar locations. ’cause you can’t be everywhere all the same time. No. And I didn’t. Yeah. So what were some of the things that you did as you hired, whether it was store managers or, you know, whatever your involvement was to make sure that the people you were hiring connected with that vision and that passion?

Elaine (17:35):

It’s, you know, hiring your team is the most foundational essential part of how you win as an entrepreneur. And it’s not easy. And sometimes even within that you make mistakes and vice versa. I’m talking like, that person might make a mistake that they even chose to come work for me. And then I realize that wasn’t the right fit on our side. It’s very reciprocal. There’s no one that’s above anybody else. It’s just sometimes the fit’s not there. But I, we have become so well versed in who we were culturally that we were all about, you know, intimate experience, giving back fun. Luxury was one of our big, we are all about having fun. It’s not, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. You don’t have to wait in some line where there’s a, you know, bouncer, you don’t have to act like we’re not too exclusive for you.

Elaine (18:26):

Right. We are an enveloping culture. And so it, it became where we actually, and I’m saying at the beginning, there were some probably bumpy roads, especially as we started getting into retail. But as we really started building this store footprint across Texas, we got pretty good at those managers and had really low turnover, you know, where we really built. And we had a store director who had come from Michael Kors who really understood how to build that team culture. But I mean, some of my most prized employees at the time were the people who were running those stores. They just got it. You know, and then sometimes I didn’t. And that’s okay too. It is,

Chris (19:03):

You know, I mean, you look, hiring is an imperfect process. Right. And I think, but if you have a core identity that you know, you’ll know when there’s a fit and when there’s not. Exactly. And then the key, if it’s not a fit to move fast Yeah.

Elaine (19:16):

And they’ve all gone on. I mean, it’s just interesting you’ve asked me this question ’cause we are going pretty personal, but you know, as I was, uh, launching edit, I started looking for some of my older leaders that I loved. And they, I mean, I look at my husband, I’m like, oh, they’re run. One’s running Carolina Herrera here in Houston, another one’s store director of Kate Spade, another. Jim’s like, well, we, you know, help give them that foundation. And that’s awesome. But I mean, nothing makes me feel better about myself to see some of those women soar in the retail space. It’s like

Chris (19:46):

A proud parent, right?

Elaine (19:47):

Yeah. Yeah. And beautiful people. So

Chris (19:49):

That’s good. That’s so good. So as you ran the company, I know you got to a point where you decided it was kind of time to put things down. Yes. And you, the original Elaine Turner, you closed over a period of time. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that had to be a pretty difficult decision and emotional decision because it, it, it was born outta passion, right? Yeah.

Elaine (20:12):

It was very difficult.

Chris (20:13):

Yeah. Uh, people come to those, you know, face those roadblocks or those forks in the road, you know, how did you go about kind of handling that and then coming to grips that it was Okay.

Elaine (20:23):

I mean, I think just like anything, it’s been a journey to get to the acceptance or for me to find that acceptance around that initial Elaine Turner designs journey. But there was a lot of things, it wasn’t an overnight thing that were leading up to me realizing that I needed to hit button in my life. And just like anything else, Chris, it’s never just usually one thing. It’s usually a series of things. Sure. You know, I mean, it’s kind of morbid, but they always say like, a plane crash doesn’t just happen with one wheel falling off. It’s usually a series of things. Right. <laugh>. And at the time, you know, that’s been almost six years retail had really shifted dramatically from more of a brick and mortar clienteling experience to kind of the Amazon age being very real, which is all about ease and convenience.

Elaine (21:12):

Right. Right. And so, and then I’m always very transparent and vulnerable about my business. The capital was really put into the brick and mortar experience, and I was behind on the digital aspects. I was. And that, you know, that’s just, I can totally admit that today. It wasn’t that I didn’t have it, but I didn’t have it near, like some of my competitors had it. Right. Sure. And so I had to really come to grips with that reality that the store traffic has started to dwindle and women were really calling for the digital experience and saying, look, I don’t wanna find parking at your store. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m really moving into this idea that the package has dropped. I can return it and put a sticker on it. And so my husband and I were just sort of playing catch up.

Elaine (21:52):

And then alongside that challenge, which was immense, I personally have an autistic daughter who was also reaching teen tween age and starting to really have a deep awareness of her differences and struggling mental health wise. So I needed to find out how I could intervene and get her in a better place. And then both of my parents were diagnosed with terminal illnesses at the same time. Oh, wow. And that’s when I said, okay, God, like I hear you, I get you. And I’m not a failure. I need to change my life. And I have, and I took those years to care, take and get people what they needed. Because even though I’m a passionate business person, I am a very driven, very ambitious, I am also just as passionate and just as, I mean, it’s my whole life or my is my family. Yeah. And so I knew that at that time I couldn’t just be everything. I I couldn’t do it all at the same time. I realized I couldn’t be and do it all at the same time. But that was okay.

Chris (22:53):

That, you know, it’s a beautiful story. I know they’re, those things aren’t fun to go through. I’m so sorry to hear. But they’re seasons in life, right? Yes. And I think, you know, one of the, there’s always lessons in every story and, and there’s a lesson in what you just said to me, and that is, as passionate as you are about your business, keep your priority straight. Yeah. Family always comes first. Yeah. And you’re right. It, it didn’t define who you were to shut the store down. Right. So that’s, you know, it is a, a beautiful thing and I’m sure it was hard to go through. Yeah. Thank you. The, I wanna take you back to something you said, because I think there is some learning in, and I always have a question for you. ’cause you said, look, I, I realize I was behind in the digital. Mm-Hmm. Right. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. I was in the brick and mortar. When you look back at that, was that a function of you just truly believed brick and mortar was the way to go and this digital was a flash in the pan? Or do you think you miscalculated the, the digital presence and how it was really gonna affect the industry and change the industry?

Elaine (23:47):

Ah, uh, it was not at all discounting digital. I had a very built out website, three full-time employees who worked on my, so it was honoring that digital was real. I had no idea how quickly the digital consumer, you know, landscape would shift. It was one of the most massive market shifts. I think if, if you’ve studied it. Yeah. That’s ever happened. It happened so fast. I mean, the Amazon age is real for sure. It just took over business that is just all of a sudden you’re buying on this interface and you’re not walking into stores as much. And it was, it happened so fast. Like, I remember my husband, like, we gotta hire more digital people. And we started hiring ’em, but as quickly as we’d hire ’em, it was just like our competitors were starting to offer, you know, free returns, all this stuff. Like you, we will just come pick it up for you. Like, it was just became like, it was literally the way people were doing business and I just had no idea how quickly I thought it would just seamlessly fit into the brick and mortar footprint. Yeah. It took over. I mean, women were like, well just ship it to me. Even just living like, you live right here, I live over in Tanglewood. Like you’re, you know. No, I know you saying no, you need to ship it to me. Like even today I

Chris (24:59):

Sitting at your coffee, you

Elaine (25:01):

Know, in your kitchen. Yeah. I’m not coming. Right. I’m not coming yet. I don’t have to

Chris (25:03):

Get dressed up.

Elaine (25:04):

I’m not So in order

Chris (25:05):

Two, you

Elaine (25:06):

Return one. Yeah. So even our Houston base, which is our Houston Dallas, our largest, they were ordering on my website online and not coming in anymore. But I still wasn’t able to provide the type of service that I think they were used to. Even online. I was struggling to keep up with that. But what’s interesting is how things come around in life is, I think there’s been a real balance now. I think that’s a little bit over. I think digital is still a value. And I know you ordered lots of Christmas presents online. I think

Chris (25:34):

Almost all right.

Elaine (25:35):

<laugh>. But I still think brick and mortar now has eased back into people wanting more human interaction and tangible experience of product, especially luxury product. Yeah. I think people still want that. So

Chris (25:46):

That’s what it is funny because I tell people this story and they’ve seen it at Holly’s, my two girls. They create like these PowerPoint presentations with pictures of their Christmas list with hyperlinks to the website. So yes, I did a lot of all shopping <laugh>,

Elaine (26:00):

I love hyperlinks to the website <laugh>.

Chris (26:03):

Uh, but the higher end things I did have to go to a store for a few things. So there you, you go, I’m living example of what you just said.

Elaine (26:08):

Okay, good. Because there is a place for brick and mortar and for human interaction and human connection and educating them on product and servicing them. Tell me where you’re going. Tell me about, you know, what you need. And I think that’s all finding much more of a balance now than it was six years ago. Yeah.

Chris (26:24):

Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about you as a leader. How, how would you define your leadership style and, and how did you try to show up, you know, in that 20 something years you were running Elaine Turner as a leader?

Elaine (26:36):

I think my biggest gift as a leader is I think I’m a very empathic person. I, so I’m very committed to putting myself in somebody else’s shoes. And I think that’s helped me, especially lead women. ’cause my 99% of my employees were women. And women hold a very complex position in society because of the roles and responsibilities that we have and the opportunities that we now have in the dual income families that we’re creating. And so women are holding a lot of hats and are trying to be and do for a lot of people in their life. I like to call it the impossible paradigm. Right. So I think that I held space for that. And I think that when I look back as a leader, I hopefully felt like most of the people who worked for me knew that they could pretty much come in and be vulnerable with me about what they could and could not do within the role that they had at my company.

Elaine (27:34):

I also think that I’m a VI think I have vision. I don’t wanna like be arrogant, I’m a visionary, but I think I have a lot of vision so I can look at things really high level and not get so in the weeds where we forget what we’re doing as a company and what we’re providing. So I’m very passionate about looking at things very philosophically and like, well, what is it we’re ultimately trying to provide? What, what’s our cut through line here? What are we trying to do? I think that’s another attribute that I am proud of. I think there’s also challenges and opportunities and things where I’ve had to grow. I kind of lack structure. I’ve had to really lean in and into how do I build more structure. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are sort of impulsive and are like out there trying to fill the void.

Elaine (28:15):

And I think I’ve had to really understand guardrails and understand how people need structure if they’re gonna work for me. So that’s a big opportunity for me. It’s like, okay, how do I provide them what they need to feel like they’re doing their job the best that they can? And that’s something I’ve had to work on. Yeah. So I mean, you know, as a leader it’s just like human. It’s just being human. You know, there’s some things that come really naturally to you and to me, but then there’s other things where I’m like, oh yeah, she really wants to have an understanding of her roles and responsibilities. Let me write that out better

Chris (28:43):

Write that down. Yeah.

Elaine (28:45):

So I think it’s, it is just an evolution. It’s a growth, you know.

Chris (28:48):

Very good. So we, we kinda started with edit and we’ve gone, I, I love where this is gone. So I wanna bring you back to that. You know, you take a hiatus, obviously there was a pandemic in there and you’re raising, as you said, you know, teenage daughter and what was it that told you it was time to get back in the game?

Elaine (29:08):

Yeah, it’s such a profound question. I, I, you know, I had no, I was really tunnel vision for probably three and a half years there where I was just in this mode of caretaking and frontline decision making for my parents and my daughter and just, and my husband had just recreated his whole deal and he was sort of out there sustaining us, you know, which we had never in our whole marriage had never not both worked. So that was a real interesting how we were gonna figure each other out with our roles changing so much. Yeah. Like I went through a deep identity crisis of like, well who am I now? Sure. If I’m not this owner and this fashion person, I’m like, you know, who am I, I had a big grief process over and kind of unraveling that and he did too with me.

Elaine (29:51):

You know? And so it was an interesting watching us try to figure each other out. But we actually made this decision to, once our daughter transitioned to this therapeutic boarding school that we found for her that she’s done beautifully well at. But it was really hard for my husband and I, we went and lived in Santa Fe for six months and sort of decided that we needed a healing opportunity, you know, of her kind of letting, leaving the home. And Ed was kind of born in that sacred space. And I think it’s because Chris, I had a moment that I could actually create space within myself for something new for me. Wow. ’cause for so many years it was all about somebody else. Sure, sure. I was trying to kind of save these people that I love so dearly. And so I started talking to my husband saying, you know, I have some ideas of something that maybe we could think about. And he’s hugely entrepreneurial too, which is a whole other conversation. We can have <laugh>. But

Chris (30:44):

He was, well maybe we’ll have him on. Uh,

Elaine (30:46):

Yes, he is huge. And he was like, let’s talk about it. And so we started brainstorming over, you know, burritos and we’d sit in town and I started telling him kind of my thoughts about, you know, Tanglewood needs this new idea and we need to serve women and brick and mortars, you know, things are coming back because I read all the time about consumer, you know, the product sector and retail. And he was like, I’m in, I think we could do it. I think we need to bring that to the customer. And so it just slowly started seeping into me. And then I started going to market and he would come with me <laugh>, finding all these unique lines, esoteric lines that nobody had heard of. Like a lady from Copenhagen. I was the first person to bring her to the US and doing all these things where I was like, I’m gonna take a risk. And she did great. I mean, we just had three months of selling with her. But anyway, so just really leaning into this idea of finding these really unique lines. And, and it took us about a year. I mean, we did a year of like negotiating the lease and meeting the contractors and coming up with the store idea, the space. And I’d love for you to come by and

Chris (31:43):

See it. I’m, I’m gonna come by. So, you know, tell where is the store now? So

Elaine (31:47):

It’s on Woodway and Voss right across from Second Baptist Church. So literally kind of in the heart of Tanglewood residential area right by that car is over there, you know. Oh,

Chris (31:58):

Perfect. Yeah. Yeah. Everyone knows where that is. Yeah, I know. So, uh, so second go round. You opened just recently, like a couple months ago? Yeah, I

Elaine (32:07):

Opened October 9th,

Chris (32:08):

So yeah. What’s today? Today’s January 10th. So yeah, it’s just been a few months and going, well, I take it,

Elaine (32:12):

It was, it great. I mean, it was just a total whirlwind because it’s funny, I opened the store of course, holiday time period. It’s like, you know, I’m trying to get press, I’m opening up during the busiest season of the, you know, the year in retail. And so it went great and I, we beat all the goals that we had, but it’s been also kind of a internal reset for me to kind of, what is that balance for me being an owner again, but not losing kind of my sense of equanimity, if you will. Like, I, I, I can go real strong, real singular into my career and I’ve had to kind of really do a lot of self-awareness work about, okay, Elaine, this is a lot, so don’t lose yourself in it and ’cause you don’t wanna lose the joy in it. And so there’s been, you know, even in the three months there’s been some setbacks that have happened already. There’s been some huge wins that have happened already. I’ve had to hire a new team and so, you know, I’m not gonna lie and say, oh, it’s just all like, oh, this perfect law. I mean, it’s been where I’m like, oh, I gotta fix that. I gotta do that. But you know, I’m doing it. Yeah. And, and I wouldn’t be doing anything else.

Chris (33:16):

So how would you compare kind of starting the first one to starting the second one? I hope, I’ll tell you what, you know, I want you to answer that. But I’ll tell you, I remember when we were about to have a second child and I, I looked at someone and they’re like, oh, they people think, oh, you got this, you know what you’re doing. And I said, you tell me something you’ve done for the second time in your life and you felt like an expert. Right? <laugh>. Oh

Elaine (33:36):

My God, it’s so true. <laugh>. I mean, it’s been so, it’s so funny ’cause the first time I was so young and you know, with youth comes a nice amount of ignorance, right? <laugh>. And so you have no idea what you’re about to do or the consequences of what you’re about to do. And you’re like, yeah, I got this. You know, I’m gonna put some little money in. We’re gonna start this thing. And I started getting handbags shipped to me from Brooklyn in my living room, and I had a baby at the time, and I just thought, no, I’m gonna figure this out. But when you’re young, you know, you feel good, your body works. You’re like, I’ve got it. And then as you age and you understand what really the consequences are of choices that you make, right? You become much more thoughtful and mindful and cautious about what you’re gonna actually do and the choices that you make in your life.

Elaine (34:20):

And so edit was very mindfully thought out before I did it, before I signed that lease. But with that said, it’s been a whirlwind, you know? And so, and I’m older and so I don’t have the reserves. I really believe that I don’t have the reserves that I, that I had. So it’s funny that you asked me that because my new year goal for edit was simplification. I need to kind of pull back a little bit, simplify some of these, you know, I get real ahead of myself, <laugh>, you know, right. And kind of look at it through a clearer eyes and how do I build a sustainable business with a digital footprint and a brick and mortar, F footprint, and how do those seamlessly go together? And so it’s really been about how do I make this something that is balanced and joyful? And even in the hard stuff, I can see the joy and it doesn’t get away from me. It doesn’t go off the rails, you know? But it’s hard. I mean, the second one isn’t necessarily easier. No. Uh, it’s just different.

Chris (35:13):

That makes sense to me. Right? Yeah. That, I think that’s probably the best way to put it. It’s just, Elaine, what a wonderful story. And you’re just a joy to be with. So we’re gonna go a little personal to wrap this thing up. Okay. Uh, what was your first

Elaine (35:24):

Job? My first job was working at Sugar Creek Country Club’s tennis shop. But do you wanna know

Chris (35:31):

What selling tennis clubs? Huh?

Elaine (35:32):

Well, I was stringing rackets. I was a big tennis player. Okay. And I was a teenager, but I guess if you’re saying my first kind of real job Yeah, no, that, that, that job,

Chris (35:41):

That’s what I was looking for. Like what you did when you had your first job to make a paycheck.

Elaine (35:45):

<laugh> the tennis. I worked at the yeah, the tennis shop.

Chris (35:47):

And so my favorite question, especially for the lifelong Texans is what do you prefer? Tex-Mex or Barbecue

Elaine (35:53):


Chris (35:54):

Okay. No hesitation. Finally, we’ll wrap this up on this question. If you could take a 30 day sabbatical, where would you go and what would you do?

Elaine (36:02):

I’d go to Santa Fe. I love Santa Fe. Okay. And I would do grounding, healing nature, kind of, I feel like that place kind of resets your soul. And so I’d engage in being outside and being in the food. The food there is so wonderful. But yeah, I do Santa Fe. Perfect.

Chris (36:23):

Yeah. Elaine, thank you so much for taking the time. Congratulations on the second go round with edit. I, there

Elaine (36:28):

We go.

Chris (36:29):

Go. Yeah. It’s gonna be successful, right? Oh,

Elaine (36:30):


Chris (36:31):

You. And we look forward to, to coming to the store and, and maybe we’ll do an event there.

Elaine (36:35):

Oh, I’d love it. And thank you. I’m grateful.

Chris (36:40):

And there we have it. Another great episode. Don’t forget to check out the show notes at and you can find out more about all the ways our firm can help you at That’s it for this episode. Have a great week and we’ll talk to you next time.

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