By Bradi Murphy, Arts & Life Editor
Cousins Leben Riebe and Brittany Barker are moving up the ladder one step at a time with their successful business, Grae Apparel.
Riebe and Barker envisioned owning a business from a young age. The two were always close growing up and would pretend to have a business of their own while at their grandma’s house.
Originally they began Grae as a hobby. Both were still in school pursuing their majors and had their own jobs. In 2007, when they first walked up the stairs of Spice Village, they were amazed at how unique it was. They loved the idea of opening a shop of their own and the fun challenges it would bring.
“It was fairly easy for us because we really put in a lot of effort and personal time. Every dollar that we made, we reinvested into the business and that allowed us to grow,” Riebe said.
They began selling western home décor in 2008 at Spice Village, which was the only thing available. Western home décor wasn’t exactly their niche but they enjoyed it as a starting point. In 2010, one of the clothing venders moved out, and Grae Apparel was able to take over. Little did they know, they were beginning a business that would have continual growth and popularity.
“I get a lot of my clothes from Grae, because the items really stand and are always in style. They have a lot of iconic pieces; for example, when stripes came back in, they had a big variety of it. I also love that they’re such a good price,” Nacogdoches junior Allison Epps said.
Riebe emphasized that he just wanted people to feel good when they put on clothes, or buy any of the items.
Today, Grae is continuing to bring in revenue with their trendy apparel and accessories. In the future, Riebe and Barker plan on adding more home décor and creating a website again. The store was available online in the past, but it didn’t get much attention as they hoped. They decided to shut down the website temporarily until they could devote the time needed to make it successful.
The location of Grae has also helped their success. From the beginning there was a steady flow of customers shopping at Spice Village. However, the unique environment of Spice also brought on a few obstacles.
“One of the things that’s difficult about being in Spice is not just being labeled Spice, but becoming your own store,” Barker said. “But I do think we are overcoming some of that.”
Riebe and Barker emphasized that they truly love spice and the unique atmosphere that it brings. They also emphasized that they love coming to work each day and figuring out what sells. They look forward to seeing what the new school year and football season will bring.
“I miss the atmosphere of Baylor being here [during the summer],” Barker said. “Fall is my favorite and back to school is the best, because everybody comes back to town. I love how busy the store gets, and it’s just a fun thing.”
Grae Apparel is located inside Spice Village on 213 Mary Ave.