From Bishop Castle to Carhenge, and The Corn Palace to Igloo City, American highways are speckled with captivating attractions. Sparking wonder and enchantment, roadside attractions are crafted for spectators to enjoy, stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat, and purchase souvenirs. While each state has their own claim to fame, there is one Texas icon that stands out and serves a larger purpose than a photo opportunity-- Annette’s Touch of Class. Annette’s Touch of Class is the flagship store for the apparel line Gina’s Graphic Tees. The establishment is a cumulation of apparel, gifts, antiques and even offers a full-service soda shop. From the parking lot to the center of the store, Annette’s Touch of Class is nothing short of an extravaganza that captivates customers and onlookers from the moment they exit Interstate Highway 45.
For our sixth episode of Dare to Be Bold, we sat down with Annette and Megan, the mother and daughter team behind Annette’s Touch of Class and Gina’s Graphic Tees. At first glance, their store seems like a culmination of a life-long dream, but that is not the case. While so many people spend their lives trying to rush success, Annette and Megan embrace opportunities as they surface. Annette explains “God has been very good to us, we owe all the glory to Him. If this is where you told us we would be, we would have probably never seen this vision.”
When asked about all of the unusual vintage pieces placed around the store, Annette illustrates with a grin plastered to her face, “Antiques have always been my passion.” When Annette was a little girl, she spent a lot of time with her grandmother. “My grandmother was actually what I would consider a real gypsy. We traveled around and sold antiques at flea markets on the weekends. I was probably the only child at seven or eight that thought sleeping in a car was cool.” As time progressed and Annette’s interests grew, she eventually pursued a career in the oil and gas industry, married and had children.
By the time Megan was 15 years old, Annette was in the height of her career and searching for a way to communicate and bond with her daughter. Annette’s faith led her to start a small company with Megan. Megan explains, “We started when I was 15. My mom had a full time job at the oil company, and obviously I was a teenager. Like any other teenager [I was] rebellious. My mom figured that it was a way for me to spend time with her instead of having an excuse to go somewhere else.” Annette also saw this as an opportunity for Megan to earn some money and learn valuable life lessons.
The original concept for the business was to sell jewelry at craft shows and flea markets. Annette explains that Megan would keep half of the profit, and the other half was reinvested into increasing inventory. Then, an opportunity arose to create a painted leather shoe line and launch Gina’s Graphic Tees. As the t-shirt line grew, the dynamic duo began to wholesale their designs to stores all over the nation.
Megan graduated high school and went to college. While in college, both ladies continued to sell at craft shows setting their sights on larger, more lucrative markets. Eventually, they were accepted as a vendor at The Nutcracker Market in Houston followed by an opportunity to sell at the Houston Rodeo. Both of these markets are known for their extraordinarily well-curated shopping experience. For vendors, the application process is tough, and the competition is steep. The opportunity was phenomenal, and Annette decided to finally transition away from her career in the oil and gas industry and focus solely on their growing companies.
Annette and Megan spent over 12 years selling their collections at various weekend markets and shows. On some occasions, they would split up to participate in two shows on the same weekend. While spending time on the road, Annette’s original love of vintage goods was reignited. “God had already known this [store] was our plan because I had started collecting some of the most fabulous pieces during that time.” Annette explains that they would store her finds throughout their family’s 10 acres of land. “Everyone just thought we were a bunch of hoarders and sick.” Meanwhile, Megan married and started her own family. Both ladies decided that it was time to end their intense traveling schedule, and they set their sights on the creation of a flagship store focused on becoming a tourist attraction. “Once we opened this store, [the skeptics that thought we were hoarding] realized that it all had a purpose.”
"Dare to be Bold" Episode 6 is now live on Youtube and Soundcloud. Tune in and listen to Annette and Megan as they share their insight on how they put their faith in God and welcome new opportunities. For more information about Annette’s Touch of Class, visit their website https://www.shopatoc.com/ and follow them on Facebook and Instagram @annettes_gina_tees