Fort Worth businesses owners Amanda Galati and Paige Casey know a thing or two about the art of multitasking.
When they’re not busy holding down the fort at home in their roles as wives and mothers, the hardworking entrepreneurs are running Lila + Hayes, the children’s clothing line they started in 2012. This month, the duo will embark on their biggest business endeavor yet with the opening of a brick-and-mortar location in Fort Worth.
LOCAL Design Studios + Gallery, at 3610 W. Vickery Blvd., is a new collaborative space that will act as the headquarters for Lila + Hayes, plus four other local women-owned businesses.
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Although the 2,280-square-foot space is designed to be used primarily as an office and warehouse for the five businesses, the shop features a retail area that is open to the public every Wednesday and by appointment. Starting in November, LOCAL will host a monthly gallery night every first Wednesday of the month that will include trunk shows and will highlight up-and-coming designers and artists.
For Galati and Casey, who spearheaded the project, LOCAL is a major milestone in a five-year history that has seen Lila + Hayes grow from humble beginnings in their homes to being sold in 80 stores across the country and a showroom in Atlanta.
“I don’t think we ever wanted it to just be a hobby,” Casey says. “I think we probably both had the ambition that this would be something that we would hope would get big and be able to share with other moms and families.”
Over the years, as the business grew, the duo went from working at home to renting out small office spaces. Still, Casey says, they were bursting at the seams and in need of a larger space that could be utilized as an office and a warehouse for their online inventory.
While on a trip to California, Casey and Galati began discussing what would become the early concept for LOCAL, a space where they could join with other women-owned businesses under one roof (like a co-op) and share expenses and rent.
“We just felt this need, that we really needed an official office space and a place to call home,” Galati says.
For over a year and a half, the duo worked hard on bringing the project to fruition. In April, the stars finally aligned when the perfect space on West Vickery became available. Things moved quickly after that. Within two weeks of signing the lease, four other businesses had joined in on the venture.
In addition to being business owners, the women behind LOCAL are all wives and mothers. Together they form a sisterhood of women who are trying to strike an even balance between their home lives and careers. Emily Lee, who started The Bow Next Door out of her home after the birth of her second child, says working in a creative space with other women entrepreneurs has been an empowering experience.
“We’re all just wanting to succeed and work all in the same boat,” Lee says. “It’s been a great opportunity to hear that you are not the only one working at night after the kids go to bed.”
It also has provided an opportunity for the women to act as a sounding board for each other, whether it be in regards to business decisions or home life happenings.
“We all work really well together,” Casey says. “Being a mom and running a business and growing a business, we all have similar challenges. It’s been fun to compare notes and bounce ideas off each other.”
As they step forward into this next big phase of their careers, Galati and Casey show no signs of slowing down. However, an earlier comment by Casey suggests that what some might see as work, these women consider to be more a labor of love.
“It’s been really fun and will continue to be really fun to be able to share and have kind of a dynamic, creative place to go and work and encourage each other and learn from each other,” Casey says.