02 Jan An Icon of Western Fashion: Meet Wild Bleu
There are some names who become synonymous with a style, a genre, a feeling or a moment in time. Well this Texas boutique has securely established itself as a leader and an icon among western fashion – Texas Femme, Southern Vogue.
We wanted to hear the story behind Wild Bleu and it’s undeniable attraction for so many. Wild Bleu was originally founded by Tierney and Leslie Wells-Hale, who is still an integral part of the company. We caught up with owner Tierney Perkins to get real about fears, good fortunes and the future of her brand.
TBH: There’s always a back story, tell us about life before Wild Bleu?
TP: Gosh, I was going through a lot of change when Wild Bleu came about! I was a newlywed with a newborn who had previously resigned from a job in PR/Marketing to move to my husband’s family’s ranch – so diapers, cattle and supper fails were what consumed me lol.
Any fun stories behind your name?
Naming came easily for Leslie and I since we already had the “Bleu” in common. I named my son after her youngest daughter – Berkleigh Bleu and Barron Bleu. I didn’t think it through because it gets confusing when they’re together…at first we said their whole names but my niece and nephew couldn’t say “Berkleigh Bleu” so they said “Sparkly Bleu” and that stuck! Its kinda perfect though 🙂 We usually just holler “Bleu” and roll with the 50% success rate.
Tell us about the woman who shops at your boutique?
She’s different, for sure. Conscious of trends but not led by them…she loves combining old pieces with new, creating a look all her own. Her appreciation for nostalgia inspires her own modern-day heirlooms. She’s versatile – a charming gumbo of classic femininity, nonconformity, Southern culture, timelessness, music, love & spirituality. Ever the lady, always the rebel.
What tips do you wish someone would have shared with you as an new entrepreneur?
I once heard that entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week for themselves, so they don’t have to work 40 for someone else. So true. Things like 5:00…vacation…Saturday & Sunday…lose their grandeur because there’s no such thing as completely disconnecting for an entrepreneur. Its easy to get caught up in your responsibilities but find a way to walk away and live life.
What has been the most fun or exciting part of owning a boutique for you? The most challenging?
Its always fun spotting someone in their Wild Bleu – that never gets old!
As far as experiences, having a local lifestyle magazine from back home, Heartland Living, do an editorial on us was really cool! So many special details – I grew up rodeoing with the editor’s daughter, so we shot it at Leslie’s parent’s home. Friends I grew up with and played sports with were hired for things like hair and makeup and my cousins brought an albino gator named Ivory because, as ya do! It was a really special moment for me because of everyone involved.
Another highlight was probably my Mom making a custom guitar strap for Kacey Musgraves. She performs with it and follows us on social media now so it can be a crazy day and we’ll randomly get a “like” from Kacey. Day made, every time!
So many big moments that I hate to leave out when I think about it….being featured in Cowboy’s & Indians’ Western Storefront…remodeling an old Hostess Twinkie/Wonderbread delivery truck into a mobile showroom – its been a fun ride!
Would you say Wild Bleu is a reflection of your personal style?
We don’t have to waste more real estate on my everyday style ( 😀 ) but when its time to shellac myself for an event, what you see on my model’s is some version of what I would wear myself. Personally, I tend to have a propensity for reckless fashion and that doesn’t resonate with the masses – I mix textures, colors and easily find alternatives to how a piece was meant to be worn. I’m quick to grab the scissors and do a little adjusting…wear a belt around my neck…I’ve learned that kind of stuff can freak a shopper out so I keep my mad tailor skills to myself or Elle (our nickname for Leslie). She’s always down for a last minute v neck too. In any capacity, you can expect my personal style to be saturated in the pieces we carry and how I style them. I used myself as my canvas all my life but customers are my canvas now, so, naturally I extend my aesthetic to the brand.
We would assume your personal closet is pretty sick. What’s in it?
Black. Custom leather. Pieces I think this Mama shouldn’t wear again but I can’t let go of lol. Boots. Heels. More black. Kolt’s (my husband) denim Wrangler shirts.
My go-to style may be channeling Johnny Cash? I think people would be surprised to know that I usually wear the same thing unless its a special occasion – black on black with brown boots and alternating jeans or the hub’s denim shirts. I started wearing my husband’s faded denim Wrangler shirts when I was pregnant and I haven’t stopped! I started wearing all black after college when I did a work abroad program in Australia and lived in Melbourne, which is like their New York City. I wore black a LOT. I was broke, had to look polished for work and my coworkers were super posh so black was a life saver. It stuck, needless to say, but I definitely have this everyday uniform that is “me”.
You also have to take into account my lifestyle – we live on a ranch in Timbuktu and I style looks constantly so having a basic palette on myself actually works for me. I hate that it may be a disappointing insight though…feel free to picture me perfectly coiffed in 6 inch heels and full hair and makeup. Incognito uniform sighting below!
Who’s been your role models – both in business and in style?
In business it would be Lynn Wittenberg. I worked under her at PBR and I have so much respect for her personally and professionally. She’s the type of lady boss all young women professionals need to work for at some point. For style we would be here all day but my style icon is and always will be Mista Ralph Lauren. Not only is it the one label that I’ll still be wearing when I’m 60, but I can think of at least 10 items, right now, that I’ve worn regularly for over a decade. RL is glamorous in a very natural way. Of course, his affection for the West plays out in his brand so I’m smitten by default.
What scares you the most in life or business?
That I may never find the balance between the two, for sure. I’m humbled and so grateful for Wild Bleu but some nights it means cereal for dinner. My husband works very hard and our son is moving mountains in his own right so not being the wife or Mama that one of them needs on some days, wears on my conscience. I think, as women, its our inherent nature to do it all and do it all well. At the end of the day, we could all probably use a good dose of self compassion. Just gonna leave this dandy visual of those guys right here <3 …..
Owning a business is hectic, how do you unwind?
Unwinding?? Is that a thing? haha. I’m working on that. Building the brand these past years, while starting a family, have left me with little time to unwind but I plan to get back to it in whatever capacity I can. Kolt raises our horses here on the ranch and its been a long time since I’ve hit the saddle on a regular basis so that’s actually first on my “woosah” wish list. Its the best therapy. Hopefully my next interview I’ll have all these interesting places I’ve been traveling to, to report, and how much help I’ve been starting colts with the hubs but this year I would just settle for a nap or hair appointment! Lame, I know.
Is there anything big goals for you as a boutique owner that you are excited about reaching?
Im actually finally feeing like I’ll have my ideal team and facilities in place so thats huge but there are a few things I’ll be switching up in 2017. Our new building is the last piece of the puzzle to get in place. Its the center building of our downtown square and apparently was once the town mercantile back in the day. It has a garage in the back for our truck where we can load in and out without stepping outdoors with inventory so that will be sooooo nice. Here’s a sneaky peek of the front (tisk tisk disclaimer: please pardon our neglected columns and trim when this was taken 🙂
If you could give advice to a young person, interested in fashion, and maybe one day hoping to start their own boutique – what would you tell them?
If your motivation is getting clothes at a discount or modeling, you might consider something like blogging.
As with any business, your motivation should be to turn a profit so I would really encourage them to do a gut check about what it is they’re looking to fulfill with this venture. A propensity for fashion is not the only prerequisite for going into the field. For example, most of us like to eat and dine out several times a week but it doesn’t mean we should run a restaurant, right? On the backend of fashion is any other business and all of the responsibilities therein. Legalities, taxes, employment agreements, long work days, sacrifices, etc. They’ll be going into a saturated market with a spectrum of standard so its important to identify what they would bring to the table that is unique or unprecedented.
I would say, figure out what roles you will take on yourself and what you need to outsource. For example, if writing is not your thing, you’ll need to hire someone to write your brand copy. Do what you can and outsource the rest, whether it be photography, accounting, branding, etc. Under no circumstances should you like what you see in another brand and help yourself to their work though. Its not fair and if their work is under copyright or trademark – its illegal and you could find yourself in a lawsuit. I would encourage someone to truly approach it like a profession by getting to know parameters and legalities – especially intellectual property.
Some people create physical things, like furniture or machines, and some people produce their work through writing but its their trade and their livelihood just like anything else but its name is Intellectual Property. I’ve seen companies copy and paste our Policies and as menial sit may sound, they took me a lot of time to write! I cultivate everything to fit the brand and make sacrifices, whether it be my time or money so for someone to just help themselves to our content with a copy/paste or switching out wording, is not right for many reasons. 99% of the time an owner’s response to any infringement is that they’re new to the industry and had no idea they were doing anything wrong. Fair enough if you’re an intern but when you step out into an industry and ask people to take you seriously and hold you to the professional standard, you really have a responsibility to know your professional parameters.
Even with a storefront, intellectual property will be a central facet since you will likely have social media accounts with photos and or graphic work. You cant use someone else’s work on a professional platform and sit back and collect compliments. If you do, you’re putting yourself and your business at legal risk but its also completely unprofessional. Even if you cite the source of your content, its still technically illegal to use it without permission. Probably surprising? Intellectual property is a thing – you want to know it implicitly before you embark on a career driven by creativity.
A big one in terms of photos is that people say, “I got it from Pinterest” but Pinterest is not a free market for photos and Pinterest will not be the platform held accountable if you’re hosting illegally sourced content. It doesn’t matter if its a random picture of a flower – someone, somewhere snapped it with their camera and if it wasn’t you, let that be your deciding factor. If you really love someone’s work and it speaks to you to the extent that you simply cannot live without it, consider reaching out to them and hiring them as a consultant to do yours! Or maybe licensing their work to you for use. Even if its just Policies. Yes it costs money but the payoff is getting what you want, keeping your integrity intact and gaining the respect of the peer you obviously admire. Its a win, win. Do the right thing.
Do you use outside models and photographers or do you keep those things in house?
I use models who are friends or family. Ironically, none of the models I use are actually aspiring to model – they do it because I asked them to, which I love. I like looks that are slightly left field of the expected and there’s no better version of that than non models.
Camelia is the one you’ll see most and she’s modeled for us since Day 1. Our husbands are buds and ranch rodeo together. I guilted her into letting me vamp her up one day and the rest is history. Some days its just her and I with a rack of new inventory and a camera but that’s how we’re comfortable. We could shoot all day without speaking if we had to lol. Its funny because she’s so incredibly photogenic but she’s a horse trainer and shows up in a cap and mud boots some days to go into hair and makeup so you probably wouldn’t even recognize her on the day to day. I love that girl. She’s also who I call if we’re in a pinch and need extra hands. She knows the operation well enough to fall in with us at the drop of a hat for anything from shipping to the website. Camelia always has my back. Fun fact: my manager, Donna, is married to her brother! Her cousin Haley also helps when we’re busy so its a family affair lol.
My other models are Sparkly Bleu (namesake and Leslie’s daughter) and Summer Andrews (my husband’s cousin).
Ok Tierney, Lightning Round time!
Year your boutique was founded?
Your boutique’s brand in three words…go!
Can I cheat since our tag line is 4? Southern Vogue | Texas Femme
What is your favorite social network and why?
Instagram, which I initially loved for its classiness, being photo-oriented, but it gets more nutters errr day too!
More importantly, dark or milk chocolate?
Ghirardelli 60% is my jam! But lets be honest, I will snatch a vintage Snickers off the bottom of the feed truck if the opportunity presents itself.
What’s your favorite retail season?
What’s the best marketing strategy you’ve discovered?
There’s no better testament to a brand than happy customers.
We’ve got to show off the goods right? We drool every time we come to your website, so show us some of your current favorites!
Tierney, thank you for sharing your story with us, you’ve build such a captivating brand and it’s so much fun to get to know the woman behind it!
If you would like to visit Wild Bleu for yourself, stop by online at www.shopwildbleu.com
or visit their Clarksville Showroom –
113 W Broadway, Clarksville, Texas
Follow on Instagram: @WildBleu
Follow on Facebook: @WildBleu
Follow on Pinterest: @WildBleu
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