Here’s the thing about Houston.
It’s a city full of potential and promise, talent, and tenacity. Just ask the Houston Astros, homeowners still rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, and anyone who has ever sat on 610 during rush hour traffic.
LAUNCH, a pop-up boutique at Avenida Houston, perfectly embodies this about Houston. It reflects the culture, artistry and creativity of locals who collaborate in one spot to make something good, even better. Now in its second incarnation, the shop is filled with local, handmade goods, conceived and crafted by people who have taken their talent and turned it into irresistible items for love for all things local, little ones, and just because gifts.
The downtown boutique rotates designers and artists, but through March 3, LAUNCH is home to State Line Designs, Miradela, Carla Sue, Chauncey and Coco, Crowns Coloring Books, Non, Ooby Dooby Baby, Three Hearts Apparel, Si Creative Photography, Bear Cub Leather Goods, Sugar Land Candle Company and Twisted Tantra.
The coterie of designer and artists was curated by female entrepreneur organization, HTX Boss Babes, and features all women or family-owned businesses. HTX Boss Babes was founded by Ellyse Espinoza and Gabriella Campos, and empowers and connects female makers, bloggers, creatives, and entrepreneurs.
Espinoza knows first-hand about the LAUNCH experience, as she was one the designers featured in the initial 2017 concept. The new group of designers have her same creative and cheeky spirit, selling everything from handmade leather goods to good-for-you soy candles.
Husband and wife duo Shannon and James Diaz craft their soy wax — made from American-grown soybeans — mixing and making everything themselves. Each candle batch undergoes a two-week curing period.
With three children six and under at home, the duo make the candles with clean ingredients, and are free of paraffin and additives. The cotton wicks are free of lead and zinc.
“We wanted to burn clean candles at home and around our kids, and we out a lot of thought into each candle,” Shannon Diaz tells CultureMap. “It’s simple, but scientific.
The couple recognizes how personal candles are, and have a wide range of scents to appeal to the most discerning palate.
“Candles bring about an emotion and what each person likes is different,” says Shannon Diaz. Those searching for Valentine’s gifts may want to consider the “Classic Man” candle, which Diaz said is popular with couples. Lone Star, a coconut, vanilla and bourbon blend candle, is another top-seller.
Carla Lyles is a maker of another kind. Her handmade cards are available under the Carla Sue Greeting Cards moniker and are an extension of her personality.
“I have always been a crafty person. I paint, I play the piano. I’m quirky and that’s what you see in my cards,” Lyles says.
Sweet and often tongue-in-cheek, the Carla Sue Greeting cards are also labors of love. She makes each card out of paper scraps, shredding and blending the paper to make a pulp. Once it dries, she moves the design forward, using the words out of her mouth or inspiration from others to shape each card’s direction. There’s a lovely assortment for Valentine’s day, but also birthdays, babies and other of life’s moments.
“I drink lots of coffee and get very little sleep, but this is seriously the happiest I have ever been,” says Lyles.
Houston-centric T-shirts, whimsical geometric jewelry, absolutely adorable baby clothing and teethers (shaped like macarons no less) as well as photography and artwork are among the treasures at LAUNCH, but don’t wait too long to check it out. The current roster of creatives moves along March 3.