By: Hal A. Brown
Kacey Cargile and Alyson Johnson were just two best friends working together when they decided to step out on their own and become entrepreneurs in 2014. The duo opened Esther Penn, which went on to become one of Fort Worth’s most popular and fashion-forward boutiques, on West Seventh Street. In April, the store expanded to Dallas.
The co-owners were not exactly in the market for a new location when they were driving in Dallas during the holidays, but an open space along Henderson Avenue caught their eyes.
“We pulled up and were like ‘Oh my gosh! This is what we always dreamed it would look like,’” Johnson said, “just a little white stand-alone building. So we just saw it and had to have it.”
Johnson and Cargile said they mainly chose Dallas as the location for their second store because of its proximity to Fort Worth. It is a good place for the two to go back and forth and be in both places while continuing to expand.
“I think another reason we were drawn to Dallas was so we could still work together,” Cargile said. “That’s kind of why we did this in the first place because we are best friends and want to work together as much as we can. That’s why it’s fun.”
Like with their store in Fort Worth, Johnson and Cargile plan to put their relationship with Dallas customers as a top priority.
“In Fort Worth, our customers are our friends. We have gotten to know these people and their kids and their cousins and when they got married. And, we are here for them for all of these events in their lives because we have been open two years and have a regular customer base,” Cargile said. “And in Dallas, we are still working on that. We are working on finally getting repeat customers, which is awesome, and learning more about them and what they like.”
The two said that one difference of being a business owner in Dallas now is how much more competitive it is. And, while competition is good, it is also hard trying to figure out where their store fits in.
“The market is pretty saturated right now,” Cargile said. “I feel like there are stores opening up every day and, you know, how do you stay fresh? How do you stay cool? What are you offering that is different? So it’s hard and it’s a constant process.”
One thing that remains the same between the locations is how supportive other local businesses have been.
“In Fort Worth, other small businesses really rallied behind us when we opened…” Cargile said. “[And] I mean, the people on Henderson have been so nice to us, the other stores and their customers down here, because we are different and we offer different things. So we have had a lot of support.”
Cargile, far left, is wearing a Finders Keepers pencil skirt with metal grommets ($132) and a Rolla's plain white tee shirt ($55).Johnson is wearing an olive green midi dress ($58), no longer in store.
By: Hal A. Brown