Boots & Pine

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Laura Uhlir in Austin TX

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Where did you grow up?

I grew up just outside of a small town in east Texas called Longview. It was pretty darn idyllic. My dad built our house, along with a few friends, when I was about 5. I remember spending evenings holding a flashlight so he could put final touches here and there. We had a brood of cats, two sweet farm dogs, Corky and Zoe, chickens, a few goats and two Jersey cows. We had our own mini-farm of sorts and I got to spend my afternoons romping around in the woods, exploring the ponds that backed up to our house and herding cats. I really loved it as a kid.

What brought you to Austin? 

I was actually born in Austin, but my parents moved away when I was very little. Austin always had a sort of family lore. My parents both went to college, at UT, here in Austin and waxed about their glory days here in this (formerly) sleepy city and it sounded just perfect to me. Rivers and music and sunshine and good food and ease. As soon as I graduated high school I packed by bags and headed this way.

What do you do for a living?

I own a shop in east Austin called Olive. We sell women’s clothing and accessories with a focus on independent designers & timeless vintage. I like clothes with an artful slant and a certain ease to them, so that’s what I try hone in on at Olive.

How did you get started?

My path to the shop was a bit of a weird one. After graduating college with a BFA in Visual Art Studies I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I worked in shops off and on. I went to beauty school for a bit (and dropped out of beauty school – real life beauty school dropout). I worked in art galleries. I was an event coordinator at a museum here in Austin. But it wasn’t until some friends in Houston asked me to help them open their store that I realize that’s what I wanted – and needed – to be doing. After helping them launch I officially had the bug and started planning my own shop. I was lucky enough to get to open Olive inside a much loved bookshop Domy to test the waters. Turns out the water was just fine, so I set off on my own and the rest is history.

What’s your favourite thing about your city?

Breakfast tacos. A day rarely passes without one.

What’s the last treasure you found?

Wendell. I am a bit of a treasure hunter – or, depending on how your look at it – a hoarder. It’s always been my tendency. My high school bedroom was studded with magazine clippings, weird little toys, records, vintage clothing strewn all over the place, stickers, you name it. Now that I’m a bit older I like to think that I’m a little more refined, but I still can’t resist a treasure. Twice a year I head out to a little town in central Texas called Round Top and it is treasure heaven. They have this giant antique sale. Vendors come from all over the world! I’ve come home with beat up rugs from turkey, ceramics from all over the place, little opal earrings, funny ash trays, a bottle opener shaped like a lion, but my favorite find, by far, was a taxidermied alligator head. He’s named Wendell, after the guys who sold it to me.

If you were going to eat your last meal in Austin, where and what would you eat?

I might spend the night being fancy and eating sushi at Uchiko — I’m crazy about sushi. But I suppose if I wanted a true Austin-y evening I would go to Contigo, just down the block from my house, sit outside, sip on an old fashioned and have a big juicy burger. You really can’t beat them.

If you could have a sleepover with anyone who has ever existed, who would it be?

I’d like to spend a wild night at the Factory in the mid 60s sitting in a corner pretending to be bored with Warhol. Then I’d like to sneak back home and curl up in bed with my doggies and hubby.

If your life was a TV show, what would be the theme song?

Paul McCartney – Coming Up.

What does Austin need that it doesn’t have now?

I feel like this is a bit of a hot button issue at the moment, but better public transportation! We’re going through a seriously painful growth spurt and traffic is getting to be such a serious problem. That and better Chinese food.

Shop Olive online and follow on Instagram and Twitter @olive_austin. Also check out Laura’s project Rad Lady.

© 2012 Arden Wray