The Here and Now
Story and Photos by Meda Kessler
This Fort Worth boutique moves into the next decade with clear eyes and a full heart for fashion
It’s an early midweek morning, and You Are Here owners Joanna Bennett and Anne Walker Miller are in the store early, fresh off a fall buying trip in New York City, their first in several seasons. Miller has one day to prepare her family for a trip to Mexico for a friend’s wedding. A new employee is getting a tour of the shop, including the back room where boxes of new arrivals await unpacking. A personal shopper pops in with a client to check out fresh looks.
Retail life is starting to feel a little more normal.
“New York was very inspiring,” says Bennett. “We had been going three times a year for the past eight years, so it was nice to go back.”
The women had been wholesale buying virtually during the pandemic, which is a challenge when you’re wanting to feel fabrics and see patterns up close. Miller, who admits she doesn’t love New York as much as Bennett, also felt recharged after this most recent trip, despite the reality of the current economy. “We saw some big price increases. And reordering will no longer be an option due to limited supplies,” says Miller.
The best friends and co-owners of the popular Fort Worth women’s boutique recently celebrated 10 years in business. They’re excited and cautiously optimistic about the coming season, as the shop racks are filled with colorful feel-good garments suggesting spring is around the corner.
You Are Here’s timeline takes them from selling to friends out of Miller’s Fort Worth home to opening a pop-up in a 1,000-square-foot space in a shopping center in 2011 to the spacious boutique they’ve called home since September 2016.
Their philosophy has always been the same: offer clothes and accessories that will last but that also make you feel and look good.
The partners each have a history in retail. Miller worked as a shop girl at Harold’s while in high school in Houston. She later moved to California and made jewelry. Bennett, a Fort Worth native, says she got her first retail experience at Henry’s Jean Scene and also worked in Austin, where she went to college. Later, she co-owned a store in Colorado. Both eventually sold children’s wear.
They credit kids for bringing them together early on — Miller has two girls, Bennett has two sons — although it was mutual friends who nudged them into becoming business partners. “After a happy hour with friends — sometimes the best ideas happen over a bottle of rosé — and some brainstorming, we opened up the pop-up at the Ridglea shopping center,” says Bennett. “We knew what we liked and what our friends liked. We felt like there was a void to fill.”
They scrambled to get inventory and relied on friends such as Jim Van Antwerp, owner of Simple Things Furniture, to help them put together a shop. With young children at home and only themselves as employees, they first opted for a 15-hour workweek. “We wanted to be there for our kids and didn’t want anyone else to run the store,” says Miller. “We know those hours didn’t fit everyone’s schedule, but we’ve always made efforts to be available by appointment, to allow customers to take products out on approval to give them time to try things on at home.”
After the move to the current location, they expanded their hours and continue to offer personal services to make shopping flexible. That includes creating curated boxes and using social media to alert customers to new arrivals, as well as adding a shoppable website.
Both women are walking endorsements for the store, with Bennett favoring a sophisticated bohemian look and Miller opting for a modern twist on the tailored look. You’ll find Bennett more often working with customers, which she missed during COVID. Miller considers herself a “back of the store” person. But they love sparkle, so you’ll find bold looks from The Woods and unique designs from Jo Latham’s line of fine jewelry. Latham, who lives in Fort Worth, approached them about being a stockist in 2019 just as they were tiptoeing into offering items with a higher price point. The stylish partnership has been a good fit for everyone.
Bennett and Miller have long featured locals in the store, including Noble 31, JAG Jewelry and Goods, Kori Green Jewelry and Casa Bungo’s locally made candles. They’ve also tried to push boundaries with unique brands such as Ulla Johnson and Mara Hoffman. This spring, look for flowy pieces from Spanish designer Psophia along with bold swimwear from Maygel Coronel, a Colombian designer. Traditionalists can choose from classic denim, Frank & Eileen button-ups and tailored dresses from Ann Mashburn.
They added more small items during the pandemic and will continue to offer giftables.
“We’re definitely spending thoughtfully,” says Miller. Bennett says it’s their mission to retain employees as well as keep the store running. They credit loyal customers for success in both arenas these past years.
“From day one, it’s been about the people that shop with us and continue to come back,” says Bennett. “We couldn’t do it without them.”