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Alumna-Owned Boutique Recognized As Fashionably Historical

Dec. 2, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Meredith Mohr

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(Above) SHSU alumna Gina Garza and her partner Autumn Duback were recognized earlier this year for their preservation of the pressed tin ceiling in the Haute Boutique on the Huntsville courthouse square area. —Photos by Brian Blalock


Amidst the selections of clothes true to the latest styles, a restored pressed tin ceiling in the Haute Boutique stands out in business partners Autumn Dubcak and Sam Houston State University alumna Gina Garza’s store, nestled in a storefront with historical charm on Huntsville’s downtown square.

They say that the ceiling “has been refinished to it’s former glory,” reminiscent of Old Town Huntsville, a feature that earned them a Preservation Award from the Walker County Historical Commission for their work in February.

Autumn and Gina
Autumn Dubcak and Gina Garza

Garza and Dubcak told the Huntsville Item that the pressed tin ceiling dates to the early 1900s and can be seen in photos of previous businesses at 1107 12th St., including the Westmoreland Jewelry store.

The building was occupied by Mt. Vernon Gift shop until January 2010, when Garza and Dubcak, who already operated Audie’s Boutique next door, rented the space from owner Robert Ernst and began restoring it to fit their needs.

“We discovered through some fallen tiles in our back room that the original ceiling for the building was beautiful pressed tin and we immediately knew that we wanted to restore it,” Garza said. “It would provide an elegance and feel that we were looking for.”

The renovation required tearing down the suspended ceiling and refinishing the original tin ceiling with sanding, caulking and repainting. The pair hired Simply Blessed Construction of Huntsville to help with the remodel.

“Autumn and I acted as the overseeing foremen to some degree,” Garza said. “We directed Simply Blessed in every aspect of the construction, design and demolition. We knew exactly what we wanted done and just needed their construction skills to get the job completed.”

Garza and Dubcak added chandeliers, walls and moved the air conditioning duct during the renovation process. They also had friends and family members help with smaller jobs such as putting up wallpaper and ripping up floors.

“We kept having to run back and forth to Home Depot and Lowe’s for paint fixtures and other miscellaneous items,” Garza said. “The employees of Home Depot knew our faces well by the time the process ended. We can honestly say we put our blood, sweat and tears into the renovation.”

Garza and Dubcak both credited Simply Blessed Construction and the support and help of their friends and family throughout the remodeling process as part of their success in earning the Preservation Award.

“Receiving this award is truly an honor, and we are so grateful everyone appreciates the hard work and planning that went into our store,” Garza said. “We proudly display a piece of the ceiling before restoration next to our award in the store.”

Garza and Dubcak have been in business together since May 2007 when Garza, who earned a degree from SHSU in fashion merchandising, was an intern. She started working with Dubcak following graduation in August.

Since the beginning, the two friends said they kept their fashion dreams and goals for the store in mind throughout as the shops grew and became more established.

The original ceiling of Haute Boutique, located at 1107 12th St. in Huntsville.

“Autumn opened Audie’s Boutique in September 2006 with a focus on trendy styles and fashion,” Garza said. “She wanted to fill a void that has been missing from the Huntsville shopping market and bring brands from the big city to our area. “

Garza and Dubcak said their motivation for opening Haute Boutique in February 2010 was to provide a comparable fashion alternative to going to a shop in Conroe, The Woodlands or Houston.

“We wanted to positively impact our customer’s self-esteem by helping them express themselves through fashion,” Garza said. “We realize not everyone can participate in every trend, but our goal is to help women pull some trends into their current wardrobe.”

Garza said that her education at SHSU was instrumental to her success at the boutiques in her internship and her subsequent co-ownership. While a student, she took classes in management, marketing, accounting and finance, earning a minor in general business.

Though both boutiques order clothes from distributors of brands they carry, Garza said that she was required to take several sewing labs in her undergraduate degree, as well as classes that taught her about margins, mark-ups, discount, and visual merchandising for display making, all skills both Garza and Dubcak use on a daily basis.

“Studying fashion merchandising at SHSU with an emphasis on business definitely aided and prepared me for owning a clothing boutique,” Garza said. “On the other hand, my partner Autumn does not have a fashion or business degree but has God-given talent and natural instincts in creativity and business operations. Her determination and drive are what started the two businesses.”

Garza also noted that there have been some things she has learned from hands-on experience that she couldn’t have learned in a classroom.

“Being required to do an internship with my degree was a key part to my understanding of the functions of the business and also as a networking tool,” Garza said. “In my opinion, students should seek some type of position in the field they are studying while in school. What I’ve learned at the store on a day to day basis equals and possibly even surpasses what I learned in class about the subject.”

Audie’s and Haute Boutique sell dresses, tops, jeans and shoes and accessories and gifts, with a ‘baby boutique’ section. Garza said that she and Dubcak became fast friends and “gladly call the two boutiques our dreams come true.”

“We couldn’t have done any of this without each other or our faith in God,” Garza said. “We are self-proclaimed yin and yang friends and truly complement each other with our business smarts and trend savvy.”



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