Out of the box
It’s been a challenging six months for Houston-based designer Elaine Turner, who has had to make difficult business decisions and reconsider that whole “fashion is so glamorous” idea. One of those decisions was to close almost all of her brick-and-mortar stores, including all but one in Dallas-Fort Worth.
One Dallas closure was particularly sudden. A sparkling new Elaine Turner boutique at The Plaza, which held its grand opening in May and was featured in that month's Where to Shop column, has already closed its doors for good. Locations at Southlake Town Square and The Shops at Legacy in Plano also are gone.
"The Shops at Clearfork (in Fort Worth) is currently the only open Elaine Turner location in the DFW area," an Elaine Turner spokeswoman confirmed July 17. The other two remaining boutiques are in the Houston area.
Turner shares the lament of many retailers, who have seen traffic drop off recently as customers opt to shop other ways, mainly online.
“Women have had a fundamental shift in the way they are shopping. It has really gone towards ease and convenience,” Turner says. “That shift has created a complete opportunity to re-evaluate the company, but the hard part is the reorganization. That is challenging. I have women begging for services, but they tell me, ‘I can’t come to your store. I don’t have time,’ and when they decide to come to my store it’s because she has carved out the time or she’s coming to support a cause that’s important to her.”
Turner's re-evaluation of the company has resulted in new and modern initiatives. Enter the Elaine Turner Edit Box, a straight-to-your-doorstep delivery of head-to-toe pieces personalized for the woman wearing them. Unlike other fashion and beauty box services, the ET Edit is a consignment box, rather than a subscription. Keep what you like, send back the rest. Shoppers are charged for what they want and stay in contact with an In House Elite Stylist for styling direction and product questions.
Turner and her husband and business partner, Jim, conceived and created the Edit initiative in January 2018 and launched the ET Edit in June. It was a concept they’d been toying with, but the business of fashion and store closures expedited the idea.
Turner and her team also travel to cities where her legion of Elite Stylists spread her pink-fueled gospel of feeling beautiful inside and out, holding fashion shows and pop-up shops benefiting causes important to the women in that specific community. The stylist program is available in 14 states across the country, including California, New Jersey, Florida, and Louisiana, carrying the ET brand beyond the Texas borders.
The convergence of the Edit and the Elite Stylist program, combined with the three Texas store locations, gives Turner the opportunity to keep shaking things up, while exploring what’s around the corner.
“We are a complete lifestyle brand," she says. "The addition of apparel really rounded out the business and led to the birth of the box. We saw a huge opportunity and decided to take what we have created and deliver it in a new innovative way."
The process is a bit like a dating site, sans cringey pick-up lines. Shoppers fill out an online profile and are assigned an Elite Stylist who is in charge of filling a customer’s box according to her body shape, personal style, and needs. Once submitted, items are pulled from the ET warehouse in Houston and shipped to a customer. Choose everything and save 20 percent on the entire box, or keep only what you want and send the box back within five days of receiving it with an included pre-paid label.
“I really see the Edit as intimacy redefined," Turner says. "You engage in the products the way you want to. In your sweatpants with a glass of wine or try it on for your husband or friend. You can still have the Elaine Turner experience, but on your terms. And if you need help, our stylists are right there for you.”
Contemplating the brand’s new direction prompted Turner to take another risk, so she sat down and wrote a book, Breaking the Glass Slipper. It’s a vulnerable and humorous take on her life and the experiences that shaped her.
“My mission is making women feel effortless and beautiful inside and out. I want to bring women together and talk about the hard stuff and still have fun,” Turner says. Her book is slated to be published in 2018.
“I always want to connect with my customers in new ways. Sometimes it’s scary, but I believe in this brand and am excited for the future.”