When Stephanie Coultress O’Neill graduated from UT, she had two options: continue on her psychology career path or follow her fashion dreams. In the end, she chose both.
“I was more drawn to the creative industry,” O’Neill said. “I was like, ‘If I could do anything, what would it be?’ and it was something in fashion.”
Today, O’Neill’s Tarrytown boutique, Estilo, helps customers feel confident through finding an image. Since opening downtown in 2005, the store has won several local fashion awards and has been featured in Austin’s Tribeza Style Week fashion show, where Estilo will once again showcase its apparel Thursday.
At first, O’Neill began working at a local boutique to learn about the business and quickly rose to a management position. By her mid twenties, she felt prepared to take a leap and start her own business in Austin’s budding 2nd Street district.
“It was one of those moments where I was like ‘Okay, I am going to take a risk and do this on my own because it is what I really love to do,’” O’Neill said.
O’Neill then began creating an image for her boutique. She named it after the Spanish word for style because she wanted a strong title that was relatable to all. She also made it a key element to maintain close relationships with customers, using psychology and people skills to make customers feel understood and guide them through their decisions.
“Having been in this business so long, I think the number (one) reason I am still around is because I love people,” O’Neill said. “You have to love people more than you love your product. People (are) what keeps us going.”
Longtime customer Malavika Vinta said the first time she walked into Estilo she had an unusual request: the perfect outfit for a date. Feeling unsure, she asked O’Neill for help and left the boutique feeling both confident and excited about what would become a long-lasting friendship.
Since then, Vinta said Estilo has become a place where she can relax with an old friend while also talking about fashion and shopping for trends.
“You know that coffee shop that the people in “Friends” used to go to?” Vinta said. “(Like there), you (don’t) have to buy anything, you (can) go to the store and she (will) be there and you (can) say hello and chit chat.”
Customer Amy Lutz said she met O’Neill through a charity event and eventually began visiting Estilo, where she worked for some time. She said the family atmosphere made her feel welcome, and O’Neill’s advice helped her both deal with and dress for life.
“Everyone wants to feel good about themselves, and she has like therapy shopping. She knows what is going in everyone’s personal lives and her staff is family there,” Lutz said.
Since moving to her shop in Tarrytown in late 2015, O’Neill has continued using her advising skills to help customers feel more confident and content.
“If you feel confident in what you are wearing and how you look, you will have a different mindset for that day, event, appointment or interview,” O’Neill said.