THE NEW ABEJAS BOUTIQUE BRINGS CUSTOMERS AND ELEGANCE TOGETHER WITH A LITTLE TASTE OF HOME
“This is your life, not a dress rehearsal. Shop at Abejas,” is the mantra of one of Houston’s most distinctive women’s clothing stores, Abejas Boutique. The first line could also be the personal mantra of the creative mind behind the brand, that of owner Christina Mitchell. The talented Mitchell has been wowing clients with her fashion-forward attitude, handpicked accessories, and select lines since she opened the much lauded Rice Village location in 1997. Combine her exquisite taste with her welcoming attitude, and you have an irresistible shopping experience that encourages a faithful clientele and consistently attracts a new one.
Inspired to expand her vision, evolving it from that of an elegant shop with a relaxed vibe to a community destination where customers don’t just shop, but enjoy the finer things in life, like good food and good wine shared with good friends, Mitchell has recently opened a new location at 2517 South Boulevard that encourages a communal experience. Located in a freshly renovated, freestanding, mid-century structure, the new Abejas Boutique exudes a sense of calm indulgence. This is no accident. Intent on creating an atmosphere that puts clients at ease and encourages them to relax and take time for themselves, Mitchell and venerable interior designer Barbara Hill have created a space where customers can take their time and enjoy shopping in a distinctive way.
Providing the perfect backdrop for the sumptuous fashion, the 3,000-square-foot space, with its natural lighting, white walls, concrete floors, and exposed beams and ductwork embodies industrial chic. In addition, a comfortable lounge near the dressing rooms, and an inviting outdoor patio, set the stage for contented conversation. To welcome her guests further and make them feel right at home, Mitchell provides them with an open kitchen featuring a stainless steel glass-door refrigerator and commercial espresso machine, as well as a harvest table for shared seating.
Mitchell says this of the new boutique, “The space imparts the feeling of being in a great friend’s fabulous home. A space that we can share fashion and conversation. You won’t want to leave.”
She’s right, especially since she has tapped into the local culinary community. Mitchell makes a delicious selection of fresh baked goods and salads prepared by local chefs available to delight her customers’ palates. Everything is designed to bring people together in a homey atmosphere where they can enjoy one another’s company, their surroundings, and the deftly displayed clothing, accessories, and jewelry in their midst.
CKW Luxe recently had the pleasure of talking with Christina Mitchell and learning more about the creative and personal choices that have gone in to shaping this imaginative space that has such a strong sense of home and community woven into it.
CKW Luxe: Abejas Boutique offers an inclusive shopping experience where women can not only find clothing and accessories for every occasion but are able to do so in an atmosphere that reminds them of their best friend’s home. Our readers would be fascinated to know how and why you came up with this unique concept.
Christina Mitchell: Abejas will be celebrating our twentieth year in 2017, and we wanted to create a relaxed space where you can share conversation and fashion: the equivalent to hanging out in your friend’s closet. So many of our clientele love to linger, chat and visit . . . we are now going to be able to offer a gorgeous space of casual elegance with a sophisticated twist. Think a Nancy Meyers movie meets retail glitter. Everything is a feast for the eyes!
CKW: Please tell our readers why you decided on, “abejas,” the Spanish word for bumblebee, as the name of your beautiful boutique. It seems to be a playful word, but one that is also laden with meaning.
CM: When I was 25 years old, and opening Abejas, I designed the bee that is still our logo today. So I had to work backwards into the name. Abejas just resonated with me and captured the bee . . . it also allowed a segue into our wholesale line, "Miel de Abejas," translating into honey of the bee.
CKW: Recently, you successfully overcame a stage 3 diagnoses of breast cancer. As you were doing so, you were also involved with renovating and opening a new store in a different locale and looking after your family. Yours is an inspiring story. Please tell us how you think these factors helped you during that time as well as how they influenced your vision for the new space.
CM: As Yoda says: "Do or do not, there is no try" . . . I kept on with the "do" until we found our new home. Those treatment days were filled with massive gratitude, appreciation, and reflection of how I want to step through my days and move forward with my life and my business.
CKW: Do you have any advice to offer our readers who may be considering developing a noteworthy business of their own, or expanding an existing one, but haven’t yet taken that final step toward doing so?
CM: Yes, three things: 1. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. 2. Knowledge is what you get when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't. 3. I never had a business plan, I just dove in, and if it worked, great, if not, we went in a different direction. In other words, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
The best ideas can be the fruit of extraordinary circumstances. None of us know where life may take us. In Christina Mitchell’s case, a personal experience inspired the design and concept of a work that was already in progress. The result was a space that progressed from an upscale boutique that provided a relaxed shopping experience to one that gives its clientele a community destination and the sense of visiting a good friend while getting the most fulfilling shopping experience imaginable.