DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In the early 1990s, when most kids were playing school or restaurant, Hannah Caillier says she was hanging out of a doggie door playing store.
“It’s all I ever wanted to do. I would style all the neighbors and go crazy with that doggie door. I love putting outfits together. I would go through magazines my entire life. I would make vision boards. paper dolls, …”
Caillier says she was born to own a boutique.
She graduated from the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
Caillier made her way to New York in 2012 opening her first dear Hannah store a year later in Hoboken, New Jersey.
“I was so fortunate it was literally an overnight success,” she said.
Caillier says she spent a lot of time on planes between California and New York, until, ironically, a weather-delayed flight from the West back to the East landed her in the South, permanently.
“I asked the gate agent where can you take me? She said, ‘I have a flight departing in 10 minutes to Love Field if you can make it.’ I had never been to Dallas in my life. So I said, ‘Perfect’.”
While exploring Texas that weekend, Caillier found her new home.
“I [had] completely fallen in love with Texans and the hospitality over the weekend. And my now landlord was hanging a for lease sign in what is dear hannah now.”
She relocated. The Dallas store opened in 2014. And two years later, the Fort Worth store opened.
“We are truly a brick and mortar store. We never thrived on line.”
But on March 18, that entire business model changed as the world changed.
ONLINE AND INTO HER CAR
Vowing to keep her 13 employees safe, Caillier closed both her stores days before Governor Greg Abbott forced non-essential small businesses to shut down.
Caillier went online and into her car delivering orders door to door.
“I’m our delivery driver, our UPS girl, your sales associate. I”m wearing all the hats right now.”
Despite being denied government aid twice, Caillier continued paying her employees.
On April 2, CBS 11 found her back at her Fort Worth store when Texas opened retail-to-go.
“People are starting to come back out and shop small businesses and local so it’s hopeful,” a very busy Caillier said standing behind the counter looking at orders on her computer.
“I have tried so hard to remain positive throughout the whole thing but as the days have gone on, March has turned to April and April has turned to May, it has kinda gotten hard to remain positive.”
But somehow she did!
On May 1, Caillier returned to her stores, opening once again to customers.
Unlocking her Dallas store, she walked in saying, “It’s been a long seven weeks.”
And then she smiled big preparing to welcome back familiar faces with the same positive vibes and cheer that fill her boutiques.
“I just truly hope people realize how important it is to shop local and not just us, but all small businesses.”
The little girl who found a way to operate through those unusual doors early on also found a way decades later when her doors were closed.
“We are very excited to be back in dear hannah and have the music on and our doors open.”