Apparel retailer celebrates Park Cities roots, increasing online success
Business is booming for Emily Wickard, considering the Park Cities mom’s humble 2016 beginnings selling her kids’ used clothes on the Park Cities Yard Sale Group on Facebook.
But the owner of the bustling clothing company always had a passion for fashion.
“I was a mom, and I loved fashion,” she said. “But I found as I had work, and I had kids, I had no time for it. I felt like I had lost my sense of style.”
From the growing pop-up sales at her home, Wickard Googled how to start an online boutique, followed the steps she found, and expanded to buying new product online and selling it, even modeling the items herself.
Quickly garnering an online following, people often asked whether she had a brick-and-mortar store. COVID ended pop-up events at her home, so she started selling solely online via Facebook, Instagram, and her new website.
“That was really a pivot point for us because the business actually grew,” Wickard explained. “Our market is basically women from their mid-30s to mid-50s. We call ourselves ‘the brand for all ages.’ Our prices are very affordable, so we have 20-somethings who shop for work or for meeting the parents.”
In 2020, as online sales continued to increase and COVID restrictions relaxed, Avara opened a brick-and-mortar store on West Lovers Lane.
“My philosophy was to have one store and then continue to expand online,” she said. “The little house is almost a destination shop. People have lunch in Inwood Village, then come to Avara to shop. On weekends it’s full of mothers and families and friends.”
Her digital strategy included a robust influencer program and grew to the point that now, most sales are outside the state of Texas.
“There are women like me, who have had careers or are still working — who have kids, but they still want to be the cutest mom at the Highland Park Scots football game,” Wickard said. “There’s just something so colorful and fun and fresh about our product.”
Since 2020, Avara has grown exponentially. Wickard estimates sales are more than 10 times what they were just two years ago. Inc. magazine recently rated Avara No. 406 in the top 5000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the nation, No. 24 in retail, and No. 3 in women’s retail.
The brand now has 42 employees, with around 16 full-time, and aims to be flexible with the company’s working moms.
“I found my dream job, and we have such a fantastic team of women all tied to Avara’s performance,” she said. “If Avara does well, they do well.”
And Wickard expects to remain in growth mode.
“I don’t see us getting stores all over the country. Our growth is online. Our heart and soul is here in Dallas and in the Park Cities,” Wickard said. “It’s where we got our start.”