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Fashion / Beauty

Top River Oaks Boutique Brings In Style Straight From New York

Inside the Business of Beauty

BY Ashley McElmurry // 09.21.15

It’s the season of new fashion trends, and a palpable excitement is in the air. Local boutique owners prepare for the busiest time of the year by going out and bringing only the best to our local shopping scene. Marie Earthman, Houston boutique owner and fashion enthusiast, recently returned from New York with an exciting collection for her cozy boutique on Westheimer in one of River Oaks’ best spots. Earthman’s business journey began with an online store and jewelry line, but a growing clientele allowed her to open her own place, Pomp & Circumstance.

Earthman is originally from South Texas, but she is now a devoted Houstonian. I spoke with her recently about her creative process and beauty tips, and she shared some fun secrets about coffee and local dining.

What steps did you take to get here today as far as school, creative processes and business plan?
School was not always the best fit for me, but I attended Texas Tech University and the University of Houston, where I was an art history major with a minor in religious studies. When I was at University of Houston I had an amazing opportunity to work for a local jewelry designer, Marnie Rocks. As far as my creative process, creativity is in my bones, and I knew I had to do something that would utilize that side of me. When it came to the business side, it was a struggle for me at the start. However, my husband, Richard, taught me a ton about finance, budgeting and all those boring things that go into running a business. I’m still learning, but I’ve come a long way with his help and patience.

What made you choose Houston as the place to grow your business?
Houston is my home. I’ve grown up here and couldn’t imagine starting a business anywhere else. Shopping here is amazing, but I really felt that we were lacking a great boutique with contemporary clothing and accessories that were affordable.

One defining moment that led you down a path of fashion.
In my mid-20s, I worked for handbag designer Alexandra Knight. I was in NYC with her visiting factories in the Garment District, and that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

The moment that you decided to open a boutique rather than working as a buyer for a big company.
I’ve had many jobs working for others, and while they were all amazing learning experiences, I’ve always known that I would be more successful working for myself. I feel that most creative people have strong Type A personalities, and we like doing things a certain way. The only way to prevent clashing with other strong personalities (or getting fired!) was to start my own business.

How has opening a location in the River Oaks area helped you grow as a company?
This is my third location since opening a storefront in 2011. I can’t tell you how much we have grown since being in this location. We all know River Oaks as an affluent part of Houston, but women love coming to the store to find their affordable go-to pieces.

When it comes to makeup, contouring is out and the all-natural look is in. Which three products would you use to achieve a ready-to-go, minimalistic look?
I’ve always been about a natural look when it comes to makeup. As I’ve gotten older and had a son, my skin has changed dramatically, and it’s been a challenge to find good products. I swear by It Cosmetics’ Bye Bye Redness. After a random bout of meningitis in January, I was left with terrible acne scarring from the steroid meds I was on. Bye Bye Redness has been a lifesaver in covering my still-healing face. I am also obsessed with RMS Beauty lip and cheek balm. It’s made with coconut oil, so no bad chemicals, and it smells heavenly. Lastly, I never leave the house without mascara. It changes your whole face; I could be up all night with my son and have bags under my eyes and mascara magically makes me appear well rested!
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If you were on a mission to spread the word about the best all-over body skincare product, which would you choose?
Coconut oil. That’s all I use on my body. It’s natural, very moisturizing, and it smells yummy.

How about hair? Which styling tools do you use?
My hair secret is that I wash it every four or five days. I know it sounds so gross, but I have found that it really keeps my hair healthy. I have very thick hair, so it doesn’t get oily, thank goodness. I don’t use a lot of styling tools, either. A good ceramic round brush and a hair dryer from Dry Bar are my hair’s best friends. I do go to Dry Bar two or three times a month for a fun blowout that lasts for days.

If you were allowed to wear only one outfit during the day, and one outfit for at night, for an entire month: What would they be?
My uniform for the day would definitely be my skinny Frame Denim jeans and riding boots paired with a PIKO top from my store; they’re bamboo long-sleeve T-shirts that are so soft, it’s like wearing butter. My evening go-to is always my flare jeans, black suede pointy Manolos and a flowy, boho top.

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What is your favorite fragrance for any time of the day?
My scent since high school has been Quelques Fleurs; I can’t get enough of it! Although, on a recent trip to NYC, I found a scent at Le Labo, Lys 41, that has quickly become my go-to.

It’s a busy day at work and you need something to give you that extra boost of energy: Do you go for a cup of fresh coffee or hot tea? From where? Any favorite places?
Coffee is my favorite thing about the morning. My husband and I both drink Bulletproof coffee; we add butter and coconut oil to our coffee and blend it all together in our Bullet. For pick-me-ups throughout the day, I drink Synergy Kombucha or herbal tea. I learned from a local Ayurveda center that drinking three cups of herbal tea a day can drastically help your overall well-being. Since I started doing this, I have felt amazing.

Say you have a friend visiting from out of town. Where is a special place you might take them?
I love going to a fun restaurant for a night out. My go-to when friends are in town or date night with my husband is Brasserie 19 (you cannot beat the people-watching there) or Uchi. I don’t even eat fish, and I’m obsessed with Uchi.

If you could give one solid piece of advice for anyone starting his or her own business, especially in fashion, what would it be?
Stick with it and hang in there. There are going to be lots of bumps in the road, including fierce competitors who will try to emulate everything you are doing (and it will be so hard to sit by and watch it), difficult employees, unhappy customers, the list goes on. But the rewards are amazing. For every difficult moment, there are a thousand good ones. You get to shop for a living, use creativity every single day, and the best part of all is that you meet so many wonderful people! I have become friends with so many of my customers, and I absolutely love meeting people from all walks of life on a daily basis. They make it all worth it.

Want to get some of Earthman’s style? Click on the items below.

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