We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashlyn Shadden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashlyn, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Hands down the driving factor behind Panache (our storefront) is teamwork. Other than the hard work on & off “the clock”, we have continued to see success with our small business because we are a mother/daughter duo that actually works. We have our own areas of expertise, but we work together really well. It takes both of us, it truly does. Mom & I are very much yin & yang. I am the online face (instagram, instagram stories, facebook, website, etc…) & she is the storefront face (one-on-one, hugs, welcoming, etc…). Initially I thought we would each appeal to our own age groups (which was true at first), but as we continue to grow, we notice a crossover. For example: younger shoppers come into the store on their way to the wineries & they fall in love with how kind & welcoming mom is. They become loyal customers because of her kindness. Whereas older shoppers (regular customers or new) see me use something in my home on our IG stories & they buy it instantly. (I am not as good in person. You can ready my face & my expressions like a book. I am much more pleasant behind a computer /phone screen hahah.) We run everything by each other, we bring different things to the table & we are very different. You would think that working so close with your mother, there would be lots of tension, but there really isn’t. I’m sure a wiser person would advise us to “keep our personal business out of our business” and to remember that this “is just a job”, but that isn’t really the truth with us & Panache. Panache is not a job, it is sense of happiness to us both. Panache is a creative outlet for me & a place where I get to challenge myself every single day. Panache is a place where mom gets to meet new people of all kinds (vendors, delivery men/women, shoppers, etc.) & love on them, if even for just a fleeting moment. We are pretty transparent & we make sure to stick to our guns & what we believe in. We make sure every decision we make is on brand and in line with our vibe because Panache is reflection of the both of us & our family. ** I would never forgive myself if I didn’t mention that my dad is very much a part of Panache. We call ourselves The Tripod because it truly takes all three of us to keep Panache standing. Dad is the self-proclaimed maintenance man, but he is so much more than that. We are so unbelievably lucky to have such a devoted, hard-working & mostly willing partner to do all the insane and mundane tasks we ask of him.
What should our readers know about your business?
I went to The University of Texas at Austin for undergrad (Bachelors in Journalism) & grad school (Masters in Advertising). I really enjoyed advertising & learning all the tricks of the trade. While at school, I always assumed I would go work for a big ad firm. That’s just what you did. When I took a job at Sunny Paige in Dripping Springs, I learned that I only wanted to work with one client & make it the best I possibly could. (Side note: my best friend is Paige Harris. The store is named after her & her mom (Cynthia) owns the store. The store started in our hometown of Whitesboro, but while Paige was also at UT, her mom thought she would open a store down in Dripping Springs since it was an up & coming area & she could be close to Paige at school.) When I worked at Sunny Paige, I quickly learned that I really liked working retail. Not so much the customer service, but designing the store layouts, buying & merchandising, challenging myself to find new ways to create sales, etc. All things that I was learning from Cynthia (owner), but also able to pair with what I was learning in the advertising program at school. I had free reign pretty much at Sunny Paige–Cynthia trusted me & eventually handed the keys off to me. I will forever be grateful for the trust she had in me to take care of her store for her while she was 4 hours away. Being thrown into that store head first taught me more than I could have ever learned in some self-help book or classroom. Life moved on & I took a job as a flight attendant for an international charter company. I got to travel the world & see things most will never get to experience. It was magical. During this time, my parents up & moved to Saint Jo, Texas. Somehow my mom got the idea of opening a store on “the historic Saint Jo square”. I thought she was absolutely crazy for so many reasons. I did a case analysis of the area, just like I was taught in school, all signs pointed to it being a flop. Also, my mom had never had a desire for opening a boutique before, nor did she know the first thing about doing so. I see now, it was a ploy to get me to move close to them. It worked. I could only do so much from different time zones, so I left my job traveling to help her run the store. In the first 4 years of business, I wasn’t 100% working at Panache. I had a couple different (paying) jobs during that time, but as soon as I was off the clock I would try to be all 100% available to Panache. I learned that the only way Panache truly thrived & was the best it could be was when I was able to give it 100% of my attention. A lot of people are able to have employees to run their business for them & some only run their stores on the weekends or at markets, but that wasn’t Panache. Panache is it’s best when my mom & I get to work together & give it our all. We may only be physically open now three days a week, but we are working behind the scenes every single second of every day. We are now online, which makes us available to our shoppers 24/7, we are constantly working on content to stay relevant on social media, we search for one-of-a-kind vendors to carry special lines in our store (which occasionally requires 10 hour road trips) & we are always coming up with special events for our shoppers. Whether it is a small pop-up market with other small businesses, a womens workshop, trunk shows or open houses, we are always looking for something to make us stand out. Most importantly, we want to be the best for our shoppers & provide them with not just quality goods, but with an unforgettable experience as well. That is what makes us stand out. Yes, we are a mother/daughter duo that offer timeless options & a different twist, but our motivation to impress our shoppers has helped us become the Panache we are 5 years later. I want the world to know that my mom & I love this little store. It truly is a labor of love & a passion project. Mom & I both could be doing anything else, actually making a paycheck, but we choose to be at Panache with each other & our shoppers. We love what we do & we love the people we attract to our little shop. Working with my mom truly is a dream come true & I hope I have many many more years by her side. I hope people see the love we put into each piece of inventory, each online order we ship out, each event we host & I hope that people feel welcome & safe when they are inside our 4 walls.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I would have my friends stay at the new bed & breakfast in town called High Cotton Cottage. The couple that own the place are the most talented people I have ever met. Carolyn & Brian Beddow worked so hard turning the place into the most magical little escape you will ever experience. The two have a love & passion for travel & cooking — all things you get to benefit from while you stay. They welcome you with drinks & chocolates! What?! And homemade quiche in the morning, or whatever they are testing out & whipping up at the time. They are the most amazing people & I wouldn’t let my friends stay anywhere else. In fact, I will be staying in one of the rooms with them! If there is no room, I will sleep under the stars in their lavish gardens or under the new deck where they are always sipping champagne. Absolute heaven. The most amazing escape. Even though the Beddows would wine & dine you the entire time, I suggest hopping over to the hole in the wall burger joint, Windmill Grill right across the courtyard from Panache. This dive is the cutest little spot you’ve seen & it takes you back. Back to simpler times. Cash only & BYOB. The greasiest burgers you have had & burgers you will be dreaming about for weeks after you leave. You will never drive through Saint Jo without stopping at The Windmill Grill. After lunch, I would suggest my friends head out to the wineries for the day. There are 3 wineries nearby & they each offer a different vibe–so check them all out. Blue Ostrich Winery is always having great entertainment & festivities, Arche Winery is a great, laid back winery to chill out & 4R Ranch Winery has the most amazing tasting room & gorgeous views. After a day at the wineries, checkout whoever is playing at Red River Station BBQ just a couple doors down from Panache. It doesn’t matter if it is a well-known Texas country singer or the local good ole boy, you won’t regret a night at RRS. They have great BBQ & cold beer too. You really only need one night in Saint Jo, that is all. But, on your way out of town stop at Fischer’s Meat Market just down the road in Muenster. Load up on any kind of cheese you can imagine & summer sausage. Really, just load up on all the things because they make it all in house. Load up for the week or so, but make sure to come back when you’re out. Muenster has some cute little shops on their main street too!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have lots of small business owners in my life that continue to encourage and inspire me. I am thankful for Paige Davidson, artist & owner of Cahoots Handbags, for venting with me about small business struggles at the end of each day. I am thankful for Brittany Cobb with Flea Style for hosting Flea Style Summit 4 years ago. That creative workshop/summit lit a fire within in me that I had no idea I had. She & many other amazingly talented & driven women speaking on a variety of panels that day encouraged me to go for it. That “it” soon became Boho Saint Jo, a maker’s marketplace, that I would curate once a year for 4 years. Even though I do not do shows on that level anymore, I am constantly using what I learned at that summit to create new ideas & events for Panache. I learned to be proud of who I am & to know my worth. I no longer do anything for free, because I am a catch baby! I also learned from Brittany how important it is to shop small & support each other through thick & thin. I am thankful for Cynthia Harris with Sunny Paige Design for giving me my very first retail job during grad school. At the time it was just a way to pay for grad school at The University of Texas, but Cynthia took me under her wing & taught me everything I know about running a retail store. She saw the spark within me & basically handed me the keys & let me go. She took me to market & taught me all about the buying process. She taught me how to design a storefront & to constantly change things up to keep interest. She truly taught me every single thing I know. I was so lucky to be going to grad school for advertising at the same time as working here because I got to pair what I was learning in the masters program with hands on/real world experience. I have learned so much along the way, but I would have never gotten this far along without Cynthia & Sunny Paige. I would have never ever ever known that I had that passion for small business within me had I not gone to work for her.
Other: I didn’t mention my mom & dad’s full names. My mom is Lynne Shadden & she is co-owner of Panache. My dad is Brian Shadden & he is a the self-proclaimed Panache maintenance man, but also named Texoma’s Quality Builder & owner of Shadden Custom Homes. (Now, HE is the person you need to write an article on. HE is one unbelievably talented man & builds the most beautiful homes.)
Alec Hilliard Photography
Nominate someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.