During my short time working for Apple in Austin, I had a very cool customer come in to buy an extra charger. After chatting for a few minutes, and complementing her blue Clare Vivier clutch, I discovered that Laura is a shop-owner in East Austin. On my next day off work, I visited her shop Olive and purchase a thin gold knuckle ring, which I now wear daily. I’ve been in love with Olive ever since. Last Saturday I was able to sit down with Laura in her new shop location and ask her a few questions about her style, her love of vintage and new designers, and her lovely shop.
Laura Uhlir is originally from a small town in east Texas, Longview, where she lived on a farm with a couple of cows, goats, chickens, rabbits. While she loved playing on the farm as a girl, Laura always wanted to be in the city.
(Living in a small town) pushed me towards being a little outside of the box. Everyone kind of had a similar aesthetic, and a similar state of mind, so it really pushed me in the opposite direct, which I think is good. I feel like if you grow up in small town, you maybe have to work a little harder. When you grow up in the city you have all of these great cultural things at your finger tips, and when you’re in a small town you have to go out of your way to find it. So I went out of my way.
“I thrifted; That’s how I survived middle school and high school. I was a thrift store junkie, and still am. It was where you could get cool stuff.” She enjoyed finding the things the old ladies in town would bring in, like their old cowboy jeans and polyester, but her “holy grail” was the little boy tee-shirts for a quarter each.
The thrift store jam was finding perfect, old, holy, beat-up teeshirts. I would find them left and right. I still have a bag of them, I never wear them but I cannot get rid of them it makes me too sad so I have a bag in my closet.
Laura would wear mostly vintage, never altering it, and it was her way of trying to be different, along with dying her hair fushia-pink. Though she admits she wasn’t, she fancied herself as “a little bad-ass.” She spent a lot of time hanging out with her friends in the high school darkroom or art studio. After high school Laura moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas and get a degree in Visual Art and Art Education Studies. With a history in art and a family full of teachers, she thought the logical thing was to be an art teacher, but kept her passion for thrifting too.
After graduating, Laura and her husband moved to LA and her thrift-store finds were even greater. She started selling her vintage on Etsy under the name Olive Vintage. Olive was the name of her “sweet, fat, amazing” Boston terrier, who was her spirit animal. When they moved back to Austin a few years later, Laura was able to sell at a few pop-up shops and work as a buyer for friends of hers in Houston who were opening a shop. After their shop had opened, Laura decided it was time to open her own. In 2012, Olive’s brick and mortar sold only vintage clothing, because it was an easy small investment for her, but carried new jewelry and accessories. Then she grew with new design as her business grew, just slowly and carefully. When Olive opened Laura says it was probably 20% vintage and 80% new designers but now it has flipped.
I will always carry vintage, because its illogical to cut it out. Almost everyone I know wears vintage clothes in some way or another, so it makes sense to have them in to round out your new wardrobe too. It’s more unique and affordable. I’ve been saying Olive’s aesthetic now is ‘artful design with everyday dressing in mind’. So to me, that means clothes with an artist approach…something that’s a little different than your everyday piece of clothing. Maybe it’s the fabric, the print, some detailing like a fringe, but something that sets apart from your basics but still wearable everyday clothes.
While I was there, Laura also picked out a few dresses for me to try on. This Just Female navy ‘coffee’ dress was unbelievably soft and comfortable. I ended up wearing it around the shop for the rest of the interview and buying it too.
Next, I asked Laura some quick questions:
Who is your biggest business inspiration and resource?
My friend Whitney, of Myrtle, in LA. She is the feminine sister to my tomboy store. She has a similar approach to her shop, we’re both a one woman show, so talking with her everyday is inspirational because we don’t have co-workers everyday. We can shoot ideas of each other, talk about what we’re buying, seeing, sales, and everything. She’s indispensable.
When do you usually buy for your shop and where do you do to find the designers new lines?
We (Laura and Whitney) go to New York twice a year, in February and September. Laura also gets to visit her brothers and friends, while she’s there for her long weekend.
When shopping for vintage do you bring everything to the shop first, or keep a few favorites for yourself?
During my last trip, I found a cream jean jacket navy and royal blue beaded detailing on the shoulders. I just used it in my most recent look-book for the shop. I was fully intending to bring this to the shop, but I think it may come home with me.
Current favorite designer?
DusenDusen (which was also her first designer in the shop) always lands in my favorites just because her work like none else. Her pattern, print making, is just incredible. Her spring delivery will be in the shop in a few weeks. I’ve also been admiring this line, Kaarem. I don’t actually have any of their stuff in the store, but they have these really beautiful, angular pieces. Super minimal and slick but wearable and nice.
Favorite piece currently in the shop?
Tie between the the marbley print Just Female dress, and this high-collar pink Nanushka, a Hungarian line she’s now carrying, dress but its the prettiest shade of pink. (In the photo above.)
What are you looking forward to this Spring?
Looking forward toward a weekend trip with my husband to Tulum in May, but other than that, swimming and being outside. Looking forward to not wearing socks with everything. (Ready for) sandals and not layering all of the time.
Favorite Instagram accounts?
@wideeyedlegless and @ardenwray
Most recent inspiration?
Decorating with Plants book, and always art galleries and movies.
Finish the sentence, I couldn’t live without… coffee. (Her current go-to order is a cortado.)
It was fantastic to talk more with Laura about her style and Olive. After living here for nine months, I can still confidently say this is one of my favorite shops in Austin and I can’t wait to slowly own more of these beautiful new and old pieces Laura’s finds.
Oh, and before I forget, she also suggested we try a nearby taco-truck, Veracruz All Natural, and get the migas taco. It was delicious! I’ll highly recommend it now too.