Kristen Cole likes taking a walk on the wild side. The newly minted president and chief creative officer for Headington Cos., whose retail portfolio includes Forty Five Ten and Tenoversix, pioneered downtown Dallas when tumbleweeds were about the only sign of life outside her store’s Joule Hotel. In expanding Tenoversix to Miami’s equally desolate Little River district at 7338 NW Miami Court earlier this month, she’s aware of the risk.
“Going in early paid off before, so I believe in emerging neighborhoods,” said Cole, who was approached by more established suitors here, from Faena Hotel to the Bass Art Museum, before zeroing in on Little River’s low-slung industrial buildings and like-minded imports such as Bill Brady Gallery and Marie Robinson Salon. “I also prefer being on the mainland because I see us servicing locals more than tourists on the beach. Our first customer owns a nearby gallery and bought a Rachel Comey dress for her opening that night.”
Miami’s overtly sexy, logo-driven style left the field wide open for Cole to secure brands with little-to-no local distribution. Aside from Saturdays NYC clothing and Thierry Lasry eyewear for men, nearly all of her fashion buy is devoted to women’s pieces from Rodarte, Opening Ceremony, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Walk of Shame, Nomia, Robert Clergerie and Lizzie Fortunato, among others.
“Even if another local retailer has them, they have a different point of view,” she said, confident the city’s style will evolve just as her loyal clientele in Dallas has become more educated after starting with wardrobes full of feminine looks from major brands. “I found our subculture there, and I have a hunch we’ll also find one in Miami. Both places have a lot of money, so it’s just about creating new customers to come into our world.”
The same goes for the lifestyle selection. Despite the annual DesignMiami fair, the home decor category was still underrepresented to the point that she dedicates half the Miami store’s merchandise to it. Whereas other locations stick to notebooks, ceramics and incense holders, Miami offers full collections for furniture and home accessories. Customers can purchase floor samples or place orders from vendors like Waka-Waka, Eric Trine and Cold Picnic.
She hopes to draw from the leafy suburbs lining Biscayne Bay and carpool moms at elite private schools just to the north and south of Little River.
A pop of color should stop them while cruising the heavily trafficked strip. She painted the exterior a hospitable pink, which reappears for the 2,000-square-foot space’s terrazzo floors and thin, powder-coated racks. Save for a tropical plant here and there, the uncluttered concept is designed to move everything in sight. An all-day café will drive traffic, too, when her husband, an Austin restaurateur, opens In the Pines later this year.