Sorella has ‘a little bit of everything’
Four years ago, Carla Davis came to a crossroads in her life. The wife and mother needed was looking to spend more time with her loved ones and a career of loaning money in the banking industry wasn’t allowing that to happen.
A move into a far different career resulted with the purchase of a monograming machine and after some trial and error, the emergence of Sorella’s, a boutique and interior design shop, came into existence.
“I never thought I would be doing this. I was in banking for seven years. I started at Mechanics Bank and then I worked at Bank of Commerce preparing loans, commercial and consumer. It got to be to where I couldn’t do anything with my kids. It was kind of taking over and my husband asked me to please stop and then we just started doing the monograming at home about two months after I left the bank,” Davis said about the genesis of Sorella, a store that offers a little bit of everything. “It’s comfortable and laid back. We’ve always done monogramming since I left the bank. We’ve been doing it for four years and there was nowhere in town where you could buy plus-size clothes that were cute. We joked and played around with it a bit and decided we should just do it. We went head first.”
Davis went into her new venture head first with relative Magan Klepzig, whose mother Lynn Klepzig, and grandmother, Betsy Aloway, operate Furniture World next door to Sorella on West Jackson Avenue. The family-run business actually promotes a family atmosphere, all the way down to in-store babysitting for mom when she comes to shop.
“Everyone has been really positive about the whole thing. They say they love the location. You don’t have to fight for parking. We love playing with kids so we watch kids a lot of times while moms are shopping,” said Klepzig, who is studying to be a nurse when she is not helping at the store. “I know if I’m not around, she’s here during the day. But she knows I’m coming by at 1 or 2 o’clock every day. If she’s going out of town and something needs to get done, I’m going to do it. My mom is next door if both of us are gone and something goes wrong.”
Klepzig has been assisting Davis with monogramming items ever since the move. Eventually, the business became so prosperous – the duo said they had to constantly meet customers around town ‑ that a move into store front was necessary. The current location became available in March and the inventory has increased ever since.
“It just got hectic. Around August we started looking for a place and it took a few weeks of calling around. We opened in the first part in September and changed locations here,” Klepzig said. “We have plenty of space to monogram, all the vinyl. The floor is much bigger, more frontage.”
Early success depended on trial, and error. The first designs on bags and similar products didn’t just happen, it was learned.
“The first night we stayed up until 3 a.m., trying to do one shirt. It was pretty sad. We’ve had a lot of practice. We’ve got it down now,” Davis said. “We knew somebody that was selling their machine and they were going out of business, so that kind of pushed us to do it. Monograming is crazy right now. We can monogram anything. We can do hats, bags, shirts, shoes, everything you can think of pretty much.”
The two had to stop and think what the most unique request to monogram something on was. After a few seconds, the answer was a saddle and gun holster that was designed as a present.
“If we can’t fit it on the monogram machine, then we have a heat transfer,” Klepzig added. “It’s just like you do to a T-shirt on a screen press.”
There is so much more to offer than just monograms, which are free of charge for customers who buy a product in the store. Local goods are stressed in the unique boutique, such as shirts for men, children and women as well as an assortment of accessories such as jewelry.
“That’s what we say, we’ve got a little bit of everything,” Davis said. “We’ve got something for everyone. Mom can come in and shop for herself, the kids, the husband, gifts for other people and get it all done right here.”
“We’ve got several locally made products. We’ve got Properly Tied from Hunter Knight, which are clothes made by a Lafayette High student here in Oxford. Then we’ve got the Wax Candle Company which is made in West Helena, Arkansas, all poured by hand. Tess Campbell Jewelry which is handmade out of shells, shotgun shells,” Davis added. “We try to keep as much as we can in the state of Mississippi. That’s our goal,a- to keep the money as local as possible. With some of the fashion stuff you do have to go outside. We have pottery from Mantachie. It’s Tab Boren. She’s a fourth generation potter in Mantachie. We’re the only one in Oxford that has that. It’s in other stores, just not here.”
The pottery is very colorful, Klepzig said, and a good complement to other designers that are also well known in the state.
“It’s easy to mix in with your everyday pottery like McCarty and Peter’s that you can get other places. It adds more color. There are no two pieces that are exactly alike,” Klepzig said.
With more room to work, and order and of course do inventory, there is no reason not to grow Sorella. The big questions is how and with what products.
“We haven’t made up our mind. We never want it to be too big to where the customer doesn’t feel like they’re taken care of,” Davis said. “We’re working on a website right now and we plan to be able to do that in the next month.”
“We already do purchases online, but it’s only through Facebook right now, which is hectic. We’re trying to do it online like a store so you’re not looking at comments here and there,” Klepzig added.
Even though the store has more space and more inventory, there is still time for family, the main reason the business was created, and thriving.
“The way we work it out, we make sure we do it as a family. That’s one of the main things. We’re family anyway so everything is family oriented. We still have family dinners, Davis and Klepzigs once or twice a week,” Davis said.
The family-first approach has also helped Klepzig in regards to her pursuit of a nursing degree.
“It’s pretty tough because I have to study for finals. They tell us to study an average of 12 hours every week on top of class. We have 12-hour clinical days in Memphis, but you get it done,” she said.