Photo by Madison Miller.
Business Sootlight: Lulie's on Cahaba
Lauren Stewart, owner of Lulie’s on Cahaba, stands with some pieces in her summer collection.
Although Lauren Stewart never studied fashion in school, she always knew that she wanted to own a clothing store.
“In a high school video, they asked us what we wanted to do in the future. For some reason, I said, ‘Own a women’s dress boutique!’” she said.
With the help of her parents, Lissie and Everett Stewart, Stewart opened Lulie’s on Cahaba in July of 2009 after graduating from Auburn University.
Stewart attended high school in Louisiana, but her mother grew up in Mountain Brook and still had family in the area. Stewart chose to go to Auburn to
study business. While she was in school, her parents moved back to Birmingham after 25 years in Louisiana.
When picking the pieces to sell, Stewart looks for variety. She wants to dress women of every age and body type.
“My age is a big challenge,” Stewart said. “Sometimes there’s a generational gap. A lot of women don’t believe that I can style them because I’m young, but I know that every woman needs different things.”
Stewart has always loved clothing but knew that for some women, shopping is not a fun experience. At Lulie’s, she carries sizes 0 through 14, not an easy task for a small boutique. However, Stewart knows that every woman is different.
“It’s hard for a lot of women to shop,” she said. “I was five foot, nine by the eighth grade, so I had trouble.”
When the pieces are picked, Stewart usually does not order each size in every Lulie’s on Cahaba piece. She doesn’t want customers to see someone else around town in their outfit.
Along with originality, Stewart said she and her employees try to make sure that the customers feel good about the way that they look: “I’m super honest. A lot
of people really appreciate that. We don’t want them to go home and say, ‘Why did they say this looked good on me?’”
With school quickly approaching in the fall, Stewart plans to have several sales. As they approach their three-year anniversary, Stewart is happy with how the business is evolving and how they have become a dress destination.
“I love dresses,” she said. “Of course, we sell separates, but our dresses range from casual to semi-formal to formals and cocktails. They’re easy to throw on.”
Stewart enjoys the location of Mountain Brook Village. As a locally owned business, she appreciates the sense of community.
“I appreciate the support. The businesses around me have been very welcoming the past few years. People will come in and say someone recommended me. It really makes me feel like I am doing my job,” she said.
Stewart’s favorite part of the business is knowing that she’s helped someone: “When they try on something and say, ‘That’s it, I look good,’ it’s rewarding.”