Getting into style locally
A Gonzales native has used the notion of a passing fancy and now has hopes of transforming it into a thriving business.
Liz Blackwell is the owner of Indie’s Southern Style, a clothing retail outlet located at 219 St. Lawrence in Gonzales.
“The name of the store came from my youngest daughter,” Blackwell explained. “Her name is Lyndie and when she was born my oldest daughter Maddie was only two, but she couldn’t say her L’s so she called her Indie. That’s why the name is special.”
The idea behind Indie’s Southern Style is to serve as the premier place in town to acquire quality merchandise at affordable prices.
“This is what I consider a middle market store,” said Blackwell. “Our prices range from $10 to $80 and I have a pretty wide range of women’s clothing.”
“I work in an office here in town so I know how challenging it is to find work-appropriate clothing that’s affordable. That was my main mission, I wanted to be able to offer versatile and affordable clothing to the women of Gonzales. Something that can be worn from the office to the football game.”
However, the store’s inventory doesn’t just cater to women. Indie’s also offers industrial-style clothing.
“We have a bunch of farmers and ranchers in the area, so I have a variety of Wrangler jeans and work shirts,” Blackwell said. “Wrangler is a high-quality brand that’s known nationwide and we can get any kind of jeans that they make.”
Blackwell said she also carries children’s jeans beginning at size 1T, plus sizes for women, and she has full line of FR (fire-resistant) shirts and jeans.
“We’re trying to be able to tap into the oilfield boom that’s going on,” she said. “There hasn’t been a place in town for those guys to get the flame resistant clothing that they are required to wear to go on the job sites.”
Blackwell, who works full time at DuBose Insurance, said she didn’t initially set out to become a full-blown entrepreneur. The seeds for her store were first planted last summer when she got a booth at the Main Street Summer Concert Series.
“I just started with some wholesale dresses that I customized in ladies and children,” Blackwell said. “I was very successful with my vision. I really enjoyed it and I got so many compliments on the things I produced. I decided to go a little more mainstream, tap into some markets that hadn’t been hit and in April I started to put my idea in action.”
The idea came as a surprise to Blackwell herself, who had never before had any interest in fashion design.
“I was pregnant with my youngest and our house was under construction so since I couldn’t nest I learned how to sew,” she said. “My mom has sewn my entire life and she used to let me pick patterns for dresses that I wanted her to make. That’s how the whole fashion thing got started for me. It spawned from sewing baby blankets and burp rags to customizing clothes then on to opening a store.”
When it came time to find a location, Blackwell didn’t have to look very hard. Indie’s Southern Style is housed in the building that includes the popular T-shirt shop Hoopla and Merle Norman Cosmetics, businesses run by her mother.
“My mother was very, very generous in letting me join her,” Blackwell said. “She opened her beauty salon 41 years ago in this building so it has a lot of meaning to me. Mom started her salon from scratch in this very spot and now I get to pursue my dream of having my own store in the same place.”
Blackwell’s mother, Dardenella Davis, said the location has always been a family-oriented business spot.
“It’s evolved from the little beauty shop that it once was to what you see today,” said Davis.
Blackwell, who is married to Dakota Blackwell, said because of the close proximity and related nature of all of the businesses on the premises, the location effectively serves as a one-stop shop spot.
“That’s the nice thing about us being here together,” she said. “If an oilfield worker is dropping off cleaning at Victory Cleaners they can purchase an FR shirt from me and Mom can put the company logo on it for him. By having a cleaners next door, it’s really helps because we all can feed off of each other.”
Although Blackwell has no plans to leave her day job, she is just wanting to see that the business gets off the ground with a solid start.
“I have some intelligent and hard working employees that I can trust,” she said. “Opening a business that I am not able to be at all day, I really had to have a good team on board. I couldn’t be happier with my choice.”
“Eventually I would love to see us outgrow this building and have to move to a larger location. I’m willing to take this wherever God leads me. All of the bankers have told us that we’ll be lucky to break even in our first year, so that’s our first goal. I’m really trying to stay focused and not get in over my head.”
Indie’s Southern Style is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Store employees include Carli Weber, Angie Boothe and Mona Lassig.