On a hazy Sunday afternoon in Houston Heights’ MKT shopping center, the Chloe Dao boutique is buzzing with shoppers. Dao is the only one working at the store during a busy day, but she doesn’t make you feel stressed. She greets her customers, asks if the sorority rushes her dress has color requirements, and jokes about the latest dress. real housewife Drama, label your shopping bag with the same name. Those straps can be awkward. A young woman who was probably in elementary school when Dao competed project runway, a reality series where designers compete for a chance to showcase their collections at New York Fashion Week. Dao epitomizes his Texas casual elegance with skinny jeans, an airy top with black stitching, and strappy heels. Her ponytail bounced back with force as she walked into her fitting room, and within seconds her customer’s frustration turned to lull.It’s no wonder Dao won Season 2. project runway 16 years ago. She’s good at making it work.
By the time Dao appeared on Bravo, he had already made a name for himself in the fashion industry. She worked with brands such as Sax Her Fifth Her Avenue, Neiman Her Marcus, Bergdorf Her Goodman, Carolina Herrera, Marc She Jacobs and sold and fulfilled special orders. Her fashion line Simply Chloe has been featured repeatedly on QVC, and her boutique in Houston, Lot 8, has been open for her four years.rear project runway, The opportunities are even greater. “I collaborated with Dove Deodorant and showed [a collection] At the Smithsonian Institution, I was the keynote speaker for the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts,” she recalls over the phone.
“I still think I had to win the lingerie challenge,” says Dao. project runway A group challenge in which her design did not go well with the judges. I thought of the black lace underwear from that challenge and wondered how much of a similar look it’s been since she successfully designed and sold it here in Houston. Rice Village e-commerce site and flagship stores, DAO will open its second outpost in early 2021 at MKT, a trendy mixed-use shopping center. More than the fashion scene, the medical and oil industries. Despite the opportunities flowing in New York, where the Fashion District provided all the energy and resources ( project runway The fan-favorite shop Mood Fabrics is necessary for a successful career, and Dao decides to go home.
“I’ve been covering fashion in Houston for nearly 20 years and have interviewed many designers here,” says Joy Sewing, a former fashion editor and longtime friend of Dao’s. “Most of them have gone out of business, moved to another job, or moved to another city. [Dao] One of the few who stayed here and had a successful career here. ”
Dao was born in Laos and when he was just eight years old, his family (including eight daughters) came to America, first arriving in Dallas and then settling north of Houston. Coming of age in the 80’s and his 90’s, Dao was a well-rounded student at Al-Din Middle School and Al-Din High School and found success in a diverse environment. “Everyone was smart, talented, popular, and of so many different races,” she said. It was like utopia.”
Her mother planted the initial seeds for Dao’s talent in the fashion industry. “She’s a hell of a woman,” says Dao. “She came to America without speaking English and she had three jobs, one of which she was sewing for Macy’s and Nordstrom. [worked] As a repair lady at a men’s tailor shop. Dao daydreamed, adding in perfect comical timing, “Then he went to KFC to eat his fried chicken.” Eventually, Dao’s mother began making clothes to sell at the weekend flea market.
Over time, Dao developed his own style. “I am drawn to clean lines and curves in nature, architecture and product design,” she says. “Inspired by good old American costume designers like the great Balenciaga, Givenchy, Vionette, Jeffrey Bean, and Edith Head.” Her innate understanding of body diversity was born. Today, her awareness of that has inspired her to offer her a sample of all her body types and her size. “I’m working on this collection and sample a lot of the gowns. Her sizes are 12, 14 and 16. It’s a place where real women can try on. Because real women aren’t just sizes 0 and 2. .”
Dao fondly recalls his days in New York, but remembers seeing how exhausting the fashion industry can be. She remembers working for her boss in New York. “I didn’t want to live like that,” says Dao. “My goal in moving back to Houston was to get closer to my family and live with fashion, friends and family. Whatof, not just one.
In 2000, Dao moved back to Houston and quickly created a life that included all three priorities. “I go over to my mom’s house to sleep over, hang out, spend time with my family, spend time with my husband and friends, but I always try my best.” While she was able to achieve a difficult work-life balance, she was also able to achieve her dreams financially. She first lived with her parents and drove her car to save money. “I didn’t come from money,” Dao explains. “[I] I needed family support and financial support to open a boutique. ”
Today, Dao’s MKT boutique is a testament to everything she’s accomplished over the last 20 years. The store is the physical embodiment of friendly charm. There are tables of geometric earrings, delicate necklaces and statement rings. A row of hot pink and parrot green skirts and pants with floral and firefly print tops. You can find a meticulously crafted dress for every occasion in almost every direction.Dao’s design studio is visible from all corners of the boutique, allowing customers to see the change and change moods. You can browse the board and follow the design process. She was inspired by the ‘open kitchen’ concept that was popular during her time. project runway Run. “Food has become everything and chefs have become rock stars because you can see the process of cooking and why it takes so long to cook,” explains Dao. . “I think you can appreciate it more when you see how things are made. I personally love to see things made. is.”
It’s an advantage that Dao values the journey as much as the destination. Because she’s always been a fashion designer, a businesswoman, and everything in between. “I talk to staff, sell to clients, come up with custom her designs, and strategize about the business. Then maybe I clean and organize between the design studio, Rice Her Village stores, or MKT locations. will do,” she says. “So I’m kind of like a cleaning lady and a CEO.” Natalie Besnard is her Chloe Dao store manager, and she’s known Dao since she started retailing in 1999. She believes Dao’s personality is the key to her lasting success. “Being with Chloe is like being with your closest, funniest, most creative friend. She will make you feel very welcome.”
No matter how much you like sexy people, it’s much easier to run a clothing business in a city like New York. I think,” Dao says. “I miss just walking around Manhattan. I miss the fashion district ecosystem.” Ultimately, though, she’s happy with her decision to design and run her business in Houston. Especially since she’s seen Houston invest in the arts and culture scene. “I think we’re trying. Now there are more fashion her boutiques and more support for local designers,” she says. “Literally next door to me in MKT is a shop called Pop-Up Co-Op. They are local designers and artists and are owned by women.”
In 2006, when Tim Gunn visited Dao before a show in Bryant Park, he was puzzled by the lack of sketches and declared collection themes. Dao said calmly. He likes to think about his customers and what they need this season. ” Dao is just as adaptable to the changing needs of its customers today as it was 16 years ago.