New retail shop focuses on empowering women

Elysia Collective Company offers space, opportunity to women entrepreneurs

SAN ANTONIO – “Hello gorgeous” lit up in pink neon is the first sign that the Elysia Collective Company runs on girl power.

It’s a business where owner Emily Howell will sell her own T-shirt, sweatshirt, and jewelry designs. It’s also where she leases space to about a dozen other women who peddle everything from stationery to scrunchies.

“My primary goal in setting up this store was to give the female business owners a home and a place for them to be able to step their foot into retail,” Howell said.

She and the others are busy preparing for their grand opening at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at 11858 Wurzbach Road.

Among the entrepreneurs leasing space in the collaborative is Leah Nanez, co-owner of Sisters from Texas. She and her sister bake earrings made of polymer clay in their kitchen ovens.

“It’s like I’m baking cookies all day, but instead of cookies, it’s earrings,” she said.

Gabrielle Richter launched her fashion boutique online and at pop-up tents just as the pandemic hit.

“We had done one pop-up, and then everything shut down, which was nerve-wracking,” she said.

Now, instead of traveling and setting up for temporary events, she has a dedicated brick-and-mortar space for her apparel.

Other businesses sell planters crafted from concrete, candles made from soy, and even shampoo bars that eliminate plastic bottle waste.

The business model is a bold step for Howell who started making stickers as a high school hobby.

“It all started with a sticker,” she said. “It was a UTSA sticker, actually.”

That’s where she attends college and studies public health, which is reflected in her products.

“We have, “Invest in Your Mental Health” t-shirts,” she said. “We have a lot of different self-care type of designs.”

Howell is only 20 years old. She first started her personal business, Emily Grace Designs, right out of high school.

“So whenever I first started my business, I invested in a Cricut and an iPad, that’s it,” she said. “I did made-to-order shirts in the beginning, did not have inventory. I just kept saving my profits and investing and saving my profits and investing.”

She’s still investing, not just in herself, but in a sisterhood.

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About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.