Lora Pelto’s childhood, as the daughter of an oil and gas businessman, meant moving between Texas and Oklahoma with her fabulously fun family of seven kids. As a young adult she had the opportunity to move to Austin and, like most people given this opportunity, she has never looked back. She has proudly called Austin home for more than 30 years. Pelto’s personal and business roots, as the owner of Anna Gray Jewelry & Gift Boutique, have been firmly set in the Westlake area. She is pleased to say both have flourished and been supported by the Westlake community and the greater Austin area.
When choosing her career path, Pelto required more flexible time to be with her three children. After securing a small business loan and getting her retail feet wet with Beadz, she began learning more about gemstones, precious and semi-precious stones, and materials. Jewelry quickly became a fascination as she began to recognize the potential and success of her business and noticed a gap in the market for a “jewelry boutique.”
“I knew creating relationships with smaller more boutique jewelry lines and designers would be my niche,” Pelto says. She began by offering a few select designer labels— jewelry that previously had only been offered at select stores in Dallas, Houston and larger cities—exclusively in her store in Austin.
Chasing her dream, Pelto rebranded and opened Anna Gray Gift & Jewelry Boutique, naming the shop Anna Gray in honor of her late mother, a gesture she believes would have deeply moved her mother and made her very proud.
Great customer service and a uniquely curated inventory help to create Anna Gray’s warm and inviting ambience. Pelto believes maintaining close relationships with her customers and knowing their tastes is very important. Many customers like to spend time just browsing, while indulging themselves with the various chocolates or seasonal sweet treats on offer and making a “wish list” for future gifts and purchases. “I enjoy welcoming my regular customers as well as those visiting from out of town,” says Pelto. Many out-of-towners consider Anna Gray a “must stop” while in Austin, whether it’s during football season or for music events, business travels or pleasure trips.
Anna Gray carries unique jewelry and gift product lines starting at under $100. Pelto works with five local designers as well as nationally recognized designers, including these favorites: Shaesby, Anne Sportun, Sethi Couture, Mizuki, Lika Behar, Vale, Zoe Chicco, Suzanne Kalan, Suzy Landa, Lauren K, KC Designs, H. Weiss, Nancy Norton, Ayala Bar and Heather Moore, with a few new arrivals expected in 2016. She also personally designs a small fine jewelry line and her own Texas jewelry line of rings, necklaces and bracelets—with diamonds— all shaped like the state.
Pelto insists it is critical to build personal relationships with designers who capture the spirit of her store and her clients. She regularly hosts designers and designer lines at in-store trunk shows, which is always a great opportunity to see a complete line. Pelto believes it teaches you so much more about the designer and their origins, too.
For men, the boutique carries watches and beautiful Heather Moore customized rings, cuff links, money clips and classic pen and pencil sets. Men can also take comfort knowing that if the woman in their life has filled out a “wish list” they will receive help selecting the perfect gift, complete with wrapping.
Anna Gray carries special “feel good” art products from Sugarboo Designs of Georgia, and Pelto enjoys the response she receives from this inspirational line.
Pelto is a strong advocate for local community. Anna Gray is the only Texas retail store to carry Glassy Baby tea light votives. The Seattle-based company contributes 10 percent of its sales to charity. Each unique piece is handcrafted in beautiful colors. Locally, Pelto supports The Gathering, a day program for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Pelto has set roots in Austin and created a serene shopping experience for her customers, but rest assured, if you cannot travel to Austin, the store ships throughout the continental United States.
Sharon Harris-Zlotnick is a freelance writer based in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.