When Lucy Jolis opened her Sunroom boutique in Austin three years ago, she realized a dream she had held since working at a clothing store in Laguna Beach, California, the summer after high school. “It was about creating that beachy atmosphere that I missed, what that store in Laguna felt like,” Jolis says of the boutique she designed herself on South Lamar Boulevard in 2013 after living in New York City for seven years. “And it was going well. I wasn’t looking to move up or move on.” But when the developers of the new South Congress Hotel approached the young entrepreneur about moving her store, she couldn’t say no. Since opening at the hip hotel in October, Sunroom has tripled its business, with customers that include hotel guests and young moms—not to mention Jolis’s original clientele, who followed her to the new space.
“The merchandise at Sunroom is reflective of my own style,” says Jolis. “The selection needs to be interesting and not found in a ton of other stores.” She refuses to carry “mall brands” and seeks to offer interesting gems—styles that shoppers will pull from the rack and excitedly show friends in a “look at this!” way. She adds, “It also comes down to working with designers who are cool and people I want to have lasting relationships with.”
One such designer is Sara Beltran, owner of Dezso, which features jewelry constructed in 18k gold and stunning stones and shells. “Her stuff will be so great for spring into summer,” says Jolis. Another favorite, Brooklyn-based designer Electric Feathers, produces raw silk garments in “crazy shapes” that are “wearable” and “very cool.”
Jolis also stocks Araks swimwear, dresses and swimwear from Lisa Marie Fernandez, gorgeous silk dresses in Indian batik and floral prints by Natalie Martin, and shoes from No. 6 and Brother Vellies, which produces footwear from springbok hides that are approved by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to ensure that there has been no illegal culling or poaching.
Six months after moving Sunroom, Jolis is feeling right at home—which wasn’t the case when she first arrived in Austin. “I felt out of place,” she admits, but she quickly adds, “I do love Austin. I’ve met amazing people. I’m inspired in a different way than in New York—it’s more subtle. It’s really different. But it’s fun; it’s easy.”
photography by Seth Olenick