Profiles of Innovation
"An entrepreneur is someone who is innovative, someone willing to discover a void in the marketplace or truly look at things from a broader perspective and figure out what needs need to be filled," says Elaine Turner.
And someone willing to take chances.
After graduating from the University of Texas in the early '90s, Turner had a dream of making it big in the fashion business. Her parents gave her some good advice: They told her to go and learn the trade and get some real life experience. So she took a job with a small family-owned garment maker in Dallas, where she rose to be head designer before the age of 24.
The secret of her success? Turner knows her customer. "We are very clear about what our brand vision is," she says.
"That experience is still my most valuable experience and was what really encouraged me. I thought, 'I know I can do this. Now I can start my own business,' " she recalls.
After a stint in the fashion world in New York, where she met her husband, Turner returned to Houston in 1999 and launched an accessories business with a national reach. Elaine Turner handbags and other accessories are found at Nordstorm and more than 200 speciality stores across the United States, including Tootsies. She recently opened a flagship store in City Centre.
The secret of her success? Turner knows her customer. "We are very clear about what our brand vision is — it's taking our customer into this accessible luxury world of destination travel escapism. Our products are known for bright colors and vivid prints and really allowing her to feel like she's walking into another place."
For the fall season, Turner is concentrating on the timeless elegance of Audrey Hepburn and Paris, with a chic sophisticated vibe. "We want our customer to feel like she's got a piece of this world through these products," Turner says.
In the fourth of a series, Profiles of Innovation, Turner speaks frankly with videographers John Carrithers and Douglas Newman about the highs and lows of creating a fashion empire. "It's not for everybody," she says. "You've got to believe in what you're doing.....You can't give up."