Today we’d like to introduce you to Elyse McClintock.
Elyse, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started Texas Wanderer when I was working 90 hours a week as a full-time Certified Public Accountant…I do not know what I was thinking. I knew I needed a creative outlet from the endless hours of staring at an excel spreadsheet. This opportunity was presented to me in 2016 when 10 of my BEST Friends decided to all get married in the same year💍💍….AHH. I knew if I did not find a way to make some side cash, I would go broke. In that year, I made shirts, veils, sashes, cups, and everything that you would ever want for a wedding or bachelorette party. All my friends loved their custom-made items and encouraged me to put my designs on Etsy.
At first, I stuck to just bachelorette items, then I moved into children’s clothing. Soon I was adding other skills like etching, laser engraving, epoxy cups and hand-painted items. Everything was custom and made for each person and we were doing very well online. About a year later, Etsy shut down my site for the first out of three times. That is when I realized that I did not own my Etsy customers and website, and I needed to start generating sales in other ways.
With this realization, I created a website and started going to craft shows, local vendor markets, and my personal favorite wine and beer festivals. It was tough pivot going from keeping minimum inventory and custom making everything to coming up with fun designs and mass producing them in the hopes people would like them. That is when it became more of a side hobby to something I fell in love with.
Once I realized that designing the clothing was what I loved, I decided to focus my creativity on the designs rather than on custom items. I tried to design things that I love, find fun, and that other people in my generation could connect with. When you look at Texans, we are so proud of our state and everything that it represents. When I travel, I have realized that people love Texas and I want people to know that I am proud of it too from my boots to my Texas Tees. Overall, I am a fun outgoing person that loves Texas and sitting down with a glass of wine or beer at night. So I started designing shirts around Texas, beer, wine and funny quotes/designs that we all can connect with.
In 2018, Texas Wanderer was going to events and selling more online we were contacted by some wineries and brands to do some wholesale. In February 2019, I was blessed with my company selling and it gave me the opportunity to go full time with Texas Wanderer. Knowing that I did not want to always be doing events in the summer heat, in 2019 we partnered with POP UP SHOP and we are in a store in the Galleria and a store in CityCentre with more to come by the end of the year.
I came up with the name Texas Wanderer because I am someone that loves being from Texas and I work so I can travel the world and see other cultures. Although the Tagline has changes from “Custom handmade gifts” to “Spirited Texas Tees and Accessories”, Texas Wanderer still has the same vibe.
Has it been a smooth road?
The real question is when has there not been struggles? Entrepreneurship itself is a struggle from having inventory to dealing with customer’s issues to finding space to sell your items to finding time to run a business. Having one or two people being the accountant, marketing, social media expert, the designer, the person at the events and the maker is a lot and it takes that type of hustle to make a brand.
My first major struggle was when my Etsy store was shut down. It was my only source of income at the time and I was making a decent salary although it was a side business that I was relying on. I had so many blank cups, onesies and shirts that I no longer had an outlet to sell. I emailed 20 times to find out why my store was closed (they just send you a here are the rules and you broke one…it was not specific). Eventually, I was at an event in my apartment complex and I realized that another girl was making shirts and we were sharing an apartment wide IP address. It took over a month to get my store back online and I loss all the traffic, reviews, and sales that I once had…It was heartbreaking.
The second and third time were similar. I had no idea why until I started digging. Shut down due to a payment mishap on their end, redirecting traffic to other websites, and unfounded trademark issues from designs purchased. By the time I was going to recreate my 300 listings for the 3rd time…I couldn’t anymore. I thought about giving up and putting all my blanks on Amazon, but I didn’t. I spent a few weeks deciding what was the best choice. Instead of giving up I did the exact opposite, I pressed the gas and gave it 100%. I realized focusing on Etsy and not my website was not creating a brand. So I got off Etsy, I focused on my website, social media, and events and I focused on Texas Wanderer and creating returning customers. Once I started focusing on my designs and the people that were buying my products instead of Custom orders my brand started growing.
From that point on, the biggest struggle is and always is TIME!! The struggle is knowing when to work on something yourself and knowing when to give it over to the experts. When I was working for Deloitte as a CPA I was working 90 hours a week and coming home to working till 2 am on my business. At that time, I barely had time to keep up with orders let alone decide if my social media profiles were sending the right message. Now that I am running Texas Wanderer full-time I am ramping up social media and website marketing and having the time to do it all is the hardest struggle. I’m involved in all parts of the business from events, our stores, social media, website design, clothing designs, making and curating the products, and whatever else is on the to-do list. I am a highly motivated individual that wakes up at 5am to make sure everything that needs to be done fits in the schedule, but time is still my biggest struggle.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Texas Wanderer – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are Texas Wanderer and our Spirited Texas Tees! We make unique designs that can be worn by all Texans. We work in the mode of sublimation, screen printing, and vinyl in order to get the best colors and designs on the softest shirts. We work with t-shirt makers to have the softest tees and the best cuts. Everything is designed and screened in Houston, Texas. I do not use shirts that I would not personally wear and we pay for high quality soft fitting shirts.
This year, we began adding some fun Texas based accessories from avocado statement earrings to wine purses to metal wine tumblers and hats. All the items are either made, designed, or curated by me. The accessories came part of the brand after customers loved our designs and wanted them on more things. A customer once asked what was the one thing I always had to wear…without hesitation I said fun earrings and that night I went home and designed the avocado earrings. From then on, I tried to add things that go along with our Spirited Texas Tees brand.
I am most proud of how we are always coming out with new designs and how all of our influencers/brand ambassadors are natural customers. We try to drop new designs and collections at least two times a month. We are always designing and searching for ideas that sets our brand apart. Also, we are in the process of adding skirts, bottoms, jackets, and other items that will go with our shirts and accessories. Our brand is based around the wine and beer enthusiasts and we keep them in mind when we are designing and curating extra items. I also am proud that all of our shirts are being modeled and displayed by customers. We make choices on our brand ambassadors based on their passion for the brand. Everyone that we have chosen to rep our brand has bought our shirts or tagged us in pictures and that started the conversation. This shows the different types of people who can wear our Spirited Texas Tees!
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love how diverse Houston is with all the different types of food, economy, and cultures. Houston is known for rappers/artists, oil and gas, the rodeo, food, breweries, and so many other things that create a unique and diverse culture. That is all mixed with the Texas loving friendly culture surrounding a big city. Because the size of Houston and its culture, it allows the opportunity to create and design and gives everyone an opportunity to sell and be part of the market. There are so many great artists and designers in Houston and I want Texas Wanderer to be part of the market. Houston is also centrally located with Galveston an hour away, Texas A&M 1.5 hours away (Gig’em), and a winery in every suburb of Houston!! I always enjoy always being 20 minutes from a brewery or winery.
I hate the traffic and sometimes and the fact that Houston is so big. Most people do not know their neighbors or the events happening in their community. Houston is so big with allows for fun events and concerts etc., but I love the small-town feel and Houston doesn’t have that. We have recently moved out to Richmond and although I wouldn’t call Richmond a small town it is definitely a small community. We take mopeds to church and see a movie, which I never thought about doing in the Heights. But moving to the suburbs come with traffic.
- Shirts $29
- Tank Tops $29
- Hats – $26
- Wine Tumblers $18
- Earrings $25
- Can Coolers – $5
- Purses $35
- Address: 5175 Westheimer Rd. Houston, Texas 77056 (2nd floor near Saks 5th Avenue in between True Religion and B8ta)
799 Town & Country Way Ste 143 Houston, Texas
- Website: www.texaswander.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tx.wanderer/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TX.wanderer/
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/tx_wanderer/
Chelsey Eckhoff (@chelseykay2), George Perrett (@capt_trey), Tiarose Pexxani (@jhemp_rbj)