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Holiday Gift Guide

DFW Startup Finds: D CEO’s Last-Minute Christmas Gift Guide

Buy local with products from Parker & Hyde, FatBoy USA, Bell'Invito, Tim Love's clothing brand, and more.
| |All photography courtesy of companies.
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Love Collection: Denim Shirt, Mens Dark Boot Cut Jean, Canvas Trucker Jacket, Weekender Bag, Red Bandana Couresy of Daniel Hooks

Ezra Coffee

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Jessica Taylor’s products offer unique flavor blends and celebrate American history. 

Jessica Taylor’s love for coffee started when she was a young girl, visiting her grandfather in Arkansas. As an adult, Taylor began traveling around the world, tasting different varieties and blends. “That’s when I fell in love with Ethiopian coffee,” she says. Taylor started home-roasting, and when she found her desired blend, she met with a master roaster to ensure consistency. She left her role as a national diversity and inclusion business partner with Toyota, then launched Ezra Coffee in 2021. Just two months later, the company was selected for an accelerator program at Target. Now, its six blends can be found inside Target, H-E-B, and other retail stores. The company’s blend names incorporate elements of American history, including civil rights events and leaders. “I wanted to use the bags to not only tell the stories of the blends, but also allow people to fall more in love with culture and history,” Taylor says. — Kelsey J. Vanderschoot

The Love Collection

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Couresy of Daniel Hooks

With nine restaurants, a hotel, and a music venue, chef Tim Love adds Texas-influenced clothing.

Celebrity Chef Tim Love first became popular for his urban Western cuisine, growing his empire to include nine restaurant concepts. He got into the hospitality game in 2021 with a shipping container resort in Fort Worth called Hotel Otto, then branched into entertainment a year later with Tannahill’s Tavern & Music Hall in Mule Alley. “Now, Love is expanding into the fashion business with his own line of clothing and accessories. “The Love Collection is just the next evolution,” he says. The line focuses on Texas-influenced pieces inspired in part by Love’s go-to look: “Top-level quality jeans, t-shirt, cowboy boots, my bandana, and a perfectly fitted jacket,” he says. The chef launched his first collection in May and unveiled a second in September, leaning into college football themes. Over time, he hopes to incorporate more workwear elements and standout pieces. “We’ll see more clothing in the future that is designed not only for looks but also for specific work scenarios,” Love says.  — Kelsey J. Vanderschoot

FatBoy USA

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Paula Masters is growing his beanbag company through innovations and collaborations. 

While listening to a Fatboy Slim CD, Finnish designer Jukka Setala created a luxury beanbag he called the Fatboy. Dutch entrepreneur Alex Bergman purchased the design and launched Netherlands-based brand Fatboy in 2002. The company expanded to the U.S. market in 2005, moved its American headquarters to Coppell a few years later, and now annually releases roughly 20 collections of luxury outdoor furniture, light furnishings, and more. The DFW operation also stuffs soft seating orders for North America. “Eighteen to 20 percent of our business is in Texas,” says Paula Masters, CEO and president of Fatboy USA. The company partners with retailers Urban Outfitters, Bloomingdales, and West Elm. Its products are part of collabs with luxury brands such as Yves St. Laurent. Masters says Fatboy is exploring launching its own stores and branching into travel-related products. “Having a brick and mortar where people can experience Fatboy firsthand is a beautiful concept,” she says. — Zoe Cote

Parker & Hyde

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Zack and Lauren McLarnon expand their handbag line to include men’s dress shirts. 

After Zack McLarnon sold his recruiting company, Bear & Boone, in 2015, he wanted to move into making custom cowhide rugs and furniture. So, he invested in a Brazilian tannery—without telling his wife, Lauren. After Zack got out of the doghouse, Lauren shared an idea: “With the leather scraps, why don’t we find someone to make handbags?” The then-pregnant entrepreneur found a manufacturer, and the couple launched handbag company Parker & Hyde in December 2016, referencing their newborn son, Parker, in the venture’s name. Two months later, the brand hooked its first big client, Saint Bernard. “That year, we grew to 400 stores and boutiques across the country,” Zack says. Now, Parker & Hyde’s handbag collections are sold in Dillard’s, Belk, Stanley Korshak, and more than 3,000 hotels. Its line has expanded to include woven neoprene totes. Next, the company is gearing up to launch a men’s dress shirt line in country clubs and online. — Kelsey J. Vanderschoot 

Bell’Invito

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Heather Wiese Alexander goes beyond upscale printing to branch into leather goods. 

When she first dove into letterpress, designer Heather Wiese Alexander discovered there was no one-stop shop for specialty printing projects. So, in 2005, she founded Bell’Invito. “No one in the specialty printing industry had people working on letterpress, next to people who were engraving, next to people who were edge-beveling, next to people who were matching the printing plates,” she says. Bell’Invito has since designed milestone event invites for upscale clientele, including a handful of celebrities. Sales quadrupled in the first year after the launch, and grew 12-20 percent every year up until the pandemic. Last October, Wiese Alexander expanded into leather goods, unveiling a line of passport covers, luggage tags, and more, which was picked up by Neiman Marcus. “I would like to see more leathers and a collection that’s in people’s lives more often than just special occasions,” she says. — Kelsey J. Vanderschoot 

Wondry Wine

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A Mark Cuban-Shark Tank investment, Chas and Whitney Gates’ cocktail vinos pack a punch.

In August 2021, Chaz and Whitney Gates launched Wondry Wine with $100,000, following in the footsteps of Whitney’s late Uncle LC, who made wine in his garage. A year later, the duo appeared on Shark Tank, where Mark Cuban agreed to invest $225,000 for a 15-percent stake in their company. Wondry produces organic fruit extract and cocktail-infused wines, such as watermelon rosé and mango passion spritz, and cocktail creams, like vanilla caramel and sweet hazelnut. The couple is a rarity in the industry; fewer than 1 percent of American winemakers are Black. “We represent what is possible for so many people—not just in the wine industry,” Whitney says. Wondry recently inked a 10-year distribution deal with Southern Glazer’s and can be found in Kroger, Target, Total Wine, Goody Goody, Costco, and Spec’s stores. After appearing on Shark Tank, the brand’s sales skyrocketed by 1,000 percent and the duo says it recently cracked the $1 million sales threshold. “We’re aiming to be a household name,”  Chaz says. — Ben Swanger 

BuddyLove

Designer Grayson DiFonzo is bringing Southern Boho to boutiques nationwide.

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After graduating from TCU, Grayson DiFonzo sold designer brands wholesale at trade shows in New York, London, France, and more. While working in Dallas’ World Trade Center in 2012, she introduced her own line. “We launched with $10,000,” she says. “Now, this year, we’ll hit $15 million in revenue.” The brand produces five collections a year, showcasing everything from dresses to swimsuits. “We went from 12 to 18 pieces per collection to now 1,200 a year,” says Grayson’s husband and brand president Buddy DiFonzo. BuddyLove has also extended into e-commerce and a retail shop in Fredericksburg. Next up? Bolstering the brick-and-mortar footprint. The brand aims to begin with North Dallas. “I’m hoping for five shops in five years,” DiFonzo says. — Kelsey J. Vanderschoot

Authors

Kelsey Vanderschoot

Kelsey Vanderschoot

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Kelsey J. Vanderschoot came to Dallas by way of Napa, Los Angeles, and Madrid, Spain. A former teacher, she joined…
Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…

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