“Lingerie is where a woman starts and ends her day. It is the foundation for being sexy, sweet, powerful: her true self.”
Ashley Kelsch, owner and creative mind behind downtown’s Teddies for Bettys, exudes confidence. Her presence is commanding, and empowering. Mother, runner, boutique owner and community icon – she has a firm grip on her “true self” and meets her day-to-day with enthusiasm and an infectious drive for success. But success, for her, is more than gaining achievement and recognition. Success is measured by her impact on the women she connects with.
“I want women to feel empowered the moment they slip that sexy little set on…we all have a little something extra in us and it is my goal to help them find it.”
I approached Ashley in early June; I had conjured a somewhat grandiose pitch for a full-editorial feature on her boutique. My idea was seemingly simple: a photo shoot centered on fashion pieces a consumer would find inside of TfB. I have a talented crew of photographers, makeup artists and models within my creative net and I was looking for an avenue to employ them. What I hadn’t anticipated, was an experience that educated me beyond what any standard Q and A could. Through the process of this highly anticipated shoot, I discovered who Ashley Kelsch is as a person, as a business owner, and as a brand. Her hand helped puppeteer every step of the creative process; from wardrobe selection to venue influence, Teddies for Bettys bears its insignia, and its philosophy.
TfB started in the basement of Kelsch’s home in Hawaii. When she made her move to Austin, she set up shop on S. 1st street – establishing her first brick and mortar location. The cozy bungalow housed brands such as Aubade, Cosabella and Andres Sarda; this home-away-from-her-home quickly became a destination for ladies – and men – searching for a better product, and a finer shopping experience.
“I can’t help but laugh when I think about the progression. I literally started in my basement…The major growth for me is not just in the location, but in my team. Some key people have been with me and some have come on and made the growth all the more possible.”
In April of 2011, TfB moved from south of the river to its current home in the 2nd Street District. The relocation was monumental. This coveted South 1st boutique entered a community of like-minded retailers and immediately became the belle of the ball. As the store made its transition, Ashley documented every step of the process on her blog. Photos, sneak peeks, and musings filled the world wide space (and still do), engaging readers and customers with Kelsch’s, and Teddies’, way of thinking.
“Moving to the 2nd Street District has completely changed Teddies for Bettys, and for the better. There has definitely been a transition with our regular, loyal customers getting used to coming to the district – but they still come. (And we love them for it!) However, we now have a whole new customer base…not to mention the amazing crossover with all of the other fabulous boutiques in the district. We are surrounded by awesome.”
2nd Street is known for its events, its dining, and its community. It really is a special patch of the downtown network, and it is here that TfB makes its biggest impact. My personal affinity for this area of Austin is no secret; I am a frequent flyer in Cru, Coal Vines, and Langford Market. Prior to my first Teddies experience, I had often walked by the shop and admired the elaborate, and witty window displays. Like many women, I didn’t fully understand the allure of couture lingerie – but mostly because I wasn’t educated, and I was wearing the wrong sized bra. It wasn’t long before word of mouth and curiosity coaxed me inside the romantically swanky interior and at the first swipe of my credit card, I was hooked. Fine lingerie, and finer things, have an astronomical impact on a woman’s overall well-being. Feeling sexy on the inside is the first step to finding confidence; Teddies for Bettys is an extraordinary vessel for this progression of thinking. It is one place in Austin where women can find their fit, some fun, and their Inner Betty.
Beyond managing the logistics of a small business, and marketing her brand and herself, Ashley is a woman empowering other women. Her strive to be her best self is mirrored in her business ethics and practice – Teddies for Bettys has become a household name for lingerie in Austin. Ashley Kelsch has broached the sensitive, and sometimes taboo, subject of lingerie and “unmentionables” with class and an unshakable stance of confidence.
“There is a fine line and I tread it carefully. I’m the face of a lingerie store as well as a mother. The material I get to work with is absolutely hot and I will push the envelope when and [wherever] I can. I try to have fun with it! Make people think twice and not take things too seriously, all the while remaining a lady.”
Her mantra has become an epidemic. From ground zero downtown, to Austin’s city limits, TfB is dressing butts and taking credit. And with the eCommerce site that launched last month, customers can now log in to their Macs to shop the sexiest European styles, and have them bow-tied and delivered to their front door.
“Launching the website has been much like opening another location. While quite demanding, it’s beyond rewarding. It [has] made us available nationally, and we are thrilled to be available to so many customers….it’s a great feeling.”
So what is next? From lingerie slingin’ and stylin’, to a national platform – where will this small city “‘bou” take her following? What can women (and men) expect to see in the coming years? Ashley is humble, but optimistic:
“Luxury is an everyday experience. Not a special occasion.”
221 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701
© Lindsay Watson
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Credits for Slideshow and Photography:
Executive Producer: Lindsay Watson
Set Manager: Jose Hernandez
Photography: Darrin Cherry
Wardrobe: Ashley Kelsch, Teddies for Bettys
Stylist: Ari Guerrero
Hair and Makeup: Tiffany Lee
Models: Callisto Griffith, Margaret Crow, Valerie Dee Hancock and Cassandra Le Blanc
A big thank you to the folks at Volstead for loaning their venue to the shoot.