When you first meet shop owner Betty Reiter, two impressions come to mind: humble and sophisticated. The French native grew up in Paris, bringing her European taste and keen eye to the Lone Star state. Reiter moved to Dallas in 1981 with her husband and worked at Loretta Blum’s exclusive boutique for 11 years. She learned the ropes of buying and selling, leading her to Stanley Korshak, where she eventually became the couture buyer, traveling to Paris and Milan. After years of working in the industry, Reiter decided it was time to create her own brand—an exclusive Dallas boutique carrying designers like Annette Görtz, Yeohlee, and Lie Sang Bong. She chatted with us about her journey through the industry, what it’s like to purchase pieces from the world’s most fashionable cities, and the secret to keeping a loyal clientele.
What do you look for when you’re buying in Europe? Is there a particular trend or feel you have in mind?
I look for something different. There are some brands I’m very loyal to, but if I go to a showroom or a show, something will catch my eye. It might be a color, a pattern, or a texture. I need to feel the fabric, and then I go on with shape. Once I find something that’s caught my eye, I figure out if there’s depth in merchandise or some style that will fit with what I want. But I’m very seduced by textiles—if I see a fabulous print, I just go for it.
How do you set your boutique apart from others in Dallas?
I don’t show the pieces by each designer. All of the designers are mixed in, and I colorize the store. I have all the blues, the greens, and the reds grouped together because I don’t like to show just one look. Ninety percent of my clothes are exclusive to us here. The first question I ask the designer is if they do distribution in the States. If the answer is yes, I ask if they’ll be selling in Dallas before we move forward. If it’s a new designer, I know I can grow their brand with me. I’ve built a lot of relationships with these designers, and I’m very loyal to them. It’s all about give and take and really believing in the brand.
You’re known for being ahead of the trend with pieces from designers that have yet to be seen in Dallas boutiques. How do you stay ahead of the curve?
I think it’s intuitive more than anything else. I feel inspired by an art exhibit, a color outside in the sky, or by a garden. I feel more inspired by these things than I do by looking at the fashion magazines and trends. I go to the fashion shows and walk through aisles of hundreds of designers. Then, suddenly, in my head, I’ll form a collection. I’ll see some colors or patterns I like, and from then on, it just forms itself. It’s very interesting how it happens.
Do you have any funny stories from being in the business for so long?
A few years ago I was carrying a French designer, Irene Van Ryb from Paris. She was probably my first designer when I first opened my store, and I was one of the only people carrying her pieces because it was exclusive to me in the U.S. I had known her for a long time from growing up together in Paris. I decided to just buy three suits for one season—one in each color and three different sizes. They were very dressy, pretty, and fairly expensive. I sold the suits to three different customers who called me on a Saturday night, laughing and telling me they were all at the same wedding! They had their pictures taken together in the outfits. They’re still wonderful clients and my good friends.
Editor’s Note: This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.