Editor's Note: This story appeared in the December 2015 ORANGE Issue IV.
Next to a taco truck in South Austin Brewery’s parking lot awaits a bohemian paradise in a gigantic green trailer. Customers move in and out of the brewery, poking their heads past the deep maroon curtains that accent the entrance of Gypsetter Traveling Boutique.
Story by Nikki LaSalla
Photos by Paula Hortsman
Owner Erica Laley welcomes passersby into her store with a bright smile. Inside, shoppers browse faux-suede and fringe jackets and paisley jumpers. Tomorrow, the green truck will be in another parking lot or inside another festival’s grounds, a new set of cus- tomers poking their heads through the doorway with curiousity. Run by Oklahoma-native Laley, Gypsetter Traveling Boutique ties ‘70s inspired bohemian style with rocker chic.
The idea for Gypsetter came to Laley while visiting her mom in Denver. After having dinner at her favorite restaurant, they walked outside to see none other than a traveling boutique. Her mother instantly suggested that Laley would be great at running a small boutique, thanks to her short-lived retail experience at Urban Outfitters. Laley jumped from job to job, doing everything except thinking of starting her own store. However, with great support from her parents, Laley decided to open Gypsetter Traveling Bou- tique here in Austin. The truck opened in February of last year, putting a retail spin on the city’s food-truck culture.
Laley parks her truck and sets up shop at popular Austin events, constantly keeping tabs on happenings around the city.
In the past year she has parked at South by Southwest and the Bandit Town Texas Bound music festival, as well as the Long Center’s Fourth of July celebration. “I want my clothes to cater to the music scene and the festival goer,” Laley says. She is currently in search of a more permanent location for her boutique and says she has plans to start a brick and mortar in the future.
The truck itself started out as a family affair. Her dad, Greg, installed all of the shelves, the dressing room and wallpaper.“Igotlotsofinputherfrom her, especially once she chose merchandise,” he says. “[The store] fits her great, and it was perfect for her personality. It was definitely a challenge to build because it was so different than any regular retail store.”
Layley has created a cozy, vintage-inspired space by using picture frames found at Uncommon Objects, dark wood floors and a ceiling wallpapered in a paisley print. A cousin gave her an old picture of Willie Nelson to hang above the check-out stand, which draws customers’ attention and has become an icon of the store.
Laley has the unique ability to pick items for the store that make it a part of Austin’s cultural landscape. From simple wool turtleneck sweaters to vibrant, floral rompers, Laley knows how to find items customers can only buy at her shop. Brands like Cotton Candy and Bandit Brand are staples in her store, which is peppered with lace-up tops and t-shirts with funky quotes like “I give good headache.” Laley has also embraced the country twist in Austin’s culture. She found pieces from other locations in Austin, including fringe earrings and colorful wallets. “Clothing was hard to find locally,” she says. “But a lot of the accessories and jewelry are handmade and came from local places.” Laley also makes sure that the clothes in her shop tell a story. “I definitely think there’s a new take on how we style the ‘70s look, like on ‘American Horror Story’ with Lady Gaga,” Laley says. By figuring out what’s popular through her Facebook and Instagram presence, she restocks fan favorites like denim bellbottoms and Bandit Brand tank tops. “Instagram has been huge,” Laley says. “A lot of times when I have people that come to events, they’ve found out through Instagram.” Laley says she wants her customers to feel like they were stepping into a friend or family member’s home to sort through a closet-full of treasures. Her friends often stop by Gypsetter to offer support, and she even considers some as part of the Gypsetter team. Andrea Cascos, a close friend, says there have been times she’s helped Laley make a sale because she’s told a customer how great they look.
More than the interiors, however, it’s Laley’s own charm that gives the truck its homey vibes. “I’ve been with her since the beginning, and I saw her build the shop with her father,” Cascos says. “She’s just so welcoming.”
The shop is constantly moving locations but the overall theme remains the same, allowing for clientele to know what to expect. Laley, in turn, has found her passion. “This is my dream job,” she says. “Owning your own business is difficult, but worth it. I’m living the life I want.”
Follow Laley’s traveling shop on Instagram @gypsettertravelling.