A pastel blast from the past – shades of bright pink, light yellow, turquoise, pale green, lavender and baby blue saturated the walls of vintage fashion boutique Hello Tallulah and music from the 50s and 60s filled the airwaves. Dresses from the era hung on the walls, on the racks and sat on tables along with pillbox, fedora and other styles of hats, bags, brooches, necklaces and other accessories. Shoes lined sections of floor, some so artful they were prominently displayed, such as pilgrim-buckled navy and dark red dress shoes with wooden heels. Monroe, Hepburn, Bogart and Bacall’s movie posters covered the walls, alongside colorful local art and photography.
The shop’s owner, Kristina Uriegas-Reyes, a San Antonio native, graduated from Incarnate Word High School and the University of Texas at Austin (where she studied writing), is as colorful as any item in her shop. A likeness of her emboldened with bright fuchsia hair, carrying Tallulah the pup (the store’s namesake), graces stickers, pillows and other advertising, demonstrating the importance and outright acceptance of self-branding. The seven years she spent in Brooklyn, New York writing for NPR, Conde Nast, BUST magazine (“Fierce. Funny. Feminist. News”) and other online publications delivering fashion, beauty and lifestyle content regularly helped inform the changing goods and services referenced in Hello Tallulah’s adjoining blog, “Twee Valley High,” which gives prospective buyers clothing, cosmetic, fashion and lifestyle content routinely.
Her work as a plus-size model for Gwynnie Bee, the online clothing subscription service whose aim is to help customers rediscover the fun of fashion, ensures that Kristina is an expert at helping customers to find flattering, stand-out styles for everyday wear or special occasions that are concurrently retro and cutting-edge. She “wants people to feel comfortable expressing themselves through fashion.” Her own influences include sixties icons Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes and That Girl Marlo Thomas. When I met her, she was wearing a 1950s-themed poodle skirt decorated with carousel horses, a fuchsia ruffled blouse with rose pin and saddle shoes. The boutique sells everything from dresses, coats, shoes, brooches (I bought a crocodile that I found on one of my heroes’ birthdays – “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin), pendants, necklaces, accessories like a gold butterfly belt buckle and even risqué Betty Page-ish fabric appliques. Every item is unique, mostly procured at estate sales or provided by customers who reach out. Some are new, like hair pomade, lipsticks, lip scrubs, highlighters, nail polish, soaps and face masks. Special events throughout the year include “sleep-overs” where you can get retro hair and makeup makeovers featuring the work of local hairdressers and makeup artists while enjoying the cupcakes of local bakers who provide artisan cupcakes for you to sample while you are transformed into an another-era version of yourself.
The vintage boutique arena is a relatively small one, Uriegas-Reyes tells me, so it’s important to stay engaged with peers and the business community at large. As a Latina business owner, she is particularly engaged in San Antonio’s “Girl Power Hour” networking events. The social media presence, networking, customer events and unique nature of Hello Tallulah has paid off. The boutique was recently included in the local “Best of City” publication and Kristina is a frequently featured guest on the morning “SA Live” show where she has provided fun segments such as dressing to “Celebrate the Royal Wedding” and “Step Into a Time Machine to any Decade to Find a Halloween Costume” which advertise Hello Tallulah, which recently celebrated its first year in business.
The shop is decorated with comfortable teal sofas and chairs, where customers can relax to views of moving street traffic on Fredericksburg Rd. and see carefully displayed ceramic teacups in cabinets, record-shaped cup coasters and a red ice bucket (also for sale) that sit on an end table. The dressing room has a lavender sheath, soft ceiling fan light and a shag rug for your standing comfort. There’s a feminist-motif bag hanging on the wall prominently, which I love seeing as a feminist with a fondness for fashion and makeup. We discuss that style and feminism aren’t exclusive of each other, agreeing that they are methods of self-expression for everyone, men and women alike. Kristina told me that the store looks and feels like her home and that she hopes that “people find joy when they come into her boutique,” which I truly did. And the music that provides the backdrop to the pastel paradise? It wasn’t the 103.7 AM adult standards and easy listening I guessed it was – it’s her one of a kind mix of distinctive era 50s, 60s and 70s, which is the style every customer can expect to leave with after visiting Hello Tallulah.
1912 Fredericksburg Rd. San Antonio, Texas 78201 https://www.hellotallulah.com/