Inspired by carefree vacations in Mexico, Conni Reed created a company to bring the feeling home.
A few years ago, Conni Reed, then communications manager for Hewlett-Packard, was sitting on her favorite beach in Cozumel, Mexico, sipping champagne and relaxing with her husband, Clay.
“I said, ‘What can I do to make myself have this feeling every day when I’m in the States?’” After 10 years of corporate life, she longed for something different but didn’t know what exactly. But something told her the answer had to do with Mexico.
Reed’s lifelong love of Mexico and all things Mexican was imprinted upon her as a girl, when she’d take road trips into the country’s interior with her father in an old Volkswagen Beetle—so much so that her friends and family nicknamed her “Consuela.”
In that Mexico moment on the beach, the answer came to her: Build a globally branded company that specializes in splashy home accessories and totes, and call it Consuela. “It was literally a vision,” she says. As soon as she unpacked, Reed, who is also a graphic designer, began designing the Consuela logo, a funky, playful anchor in turquoise, pink, yellow, and green. “The logo portrays our ‘Anchors aweigh!’ mentality,” she says. “Live life! Take a trip!” became the message behind the merchandise the self-admitted shopaholic would produce.
Within two months, Reed incorporated her business, and for the next year and a half she worked nights and weekends, developing her always-on-vacation-vibe brand. Her first product, the Consuela tote—a colorful, sturdy oilcloth and vinyl bag that easily holds a laptop and a handful of magazines—is still a bestseller today. Other items in her product line—grocery bags, tequila bags, frames, crosses, and wooden boxes—followed. She designed bright-colored oilcloth pillows, tablecloths, and blankets, including signature design elements such as oversize tassels and intricate embroidery.
The idea caught on fast—more than 600 retail stores nationwide carry Consuela—and there’s the Consuela flagship 20 miles west of Austin in Dripping Springs, Texas, where Reed does business out of a quirky stone cottage that also serves as her workshop.
“It’s fresh and it’s fun,’” Reed says. “I want to bring things to the world that bring joy, that blue-skies, top-down, and hair-blowing-through-the-wind feeling—every day.”
FYI: To shop online or to find retailers, visit www.consuelastyle.com.