INTERVIEW: LAURA VINROOT POOLE

Last October, our friend, Ashley Wick, owner of Wick & Co. sent us to Charlotte, North Carolina for the grand opening of a new store. There we shared the great privilege of spending time with Laura Vinroot Poole. She has been in the Charlotte retail business for many years, managing her own luxury women's shops, Capitol and Poole Shop. For many years she and her husband have debated opening a well-curated and men's shop. And that's where Tabor came in.

Laura has been featured in publications like the New York Times, Garden & Gun, and Southern Living, among others. And we've been fortunate enough to dig deeper as we uncover more of Laura's story. Read our interview with her below and check out the photos we took in her new space!

You own two women’s retail stores, Capitol and Poole Shop. And you’ve recently opened a men’s shop, Tabor. How did you end up there? What about selling clothing appealed to you?

I started because I saw a huge hole in the market...Charlotte is a city with an educated and well-traveled client who couldn't find what they wanted here. I'm only able to do what I do because I have amazing clients and retail is a constant challenge and a great adventure.  The travel requirement is intense and it is extremely painful to be apart from my family, but I am always excited to go to market and see beautiful things to bring home for my clients. I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do and I never take it for granted...not for a minute.

Tabor is your latest project. Where does the name come from, and why’d you feel the need to open a men’s shop? 

Tabor is a family name and is actually my middle name --it has a masculine feel to it so we thought it was a natural fit.

Perry and I have been considering a men's store for years. We finally felt like the timing was right as men in Charlotte have expressed a growing interest in menswear.  As technology expands, the world becomes smaller and men become increasingly aware of what's out there and they want access.

Photo by Chris Edwards

Photo by Chris Edwards

You’ve traveled a great deal. Name a city, anywhere, that you enjoy exploring. Why?

Milan is my secret love. Fashion people spend ages lamenting the fact that they have to go to Milan because it's not easy. It is mysterious and it's not very accessible but I adore every moment that I'm able to spend there...from the people to the food to the art and the architecture.

What’s a life lesson you’ve learned and applied over time?

Esse Quam Videri - To be, rather than to seem.  North Carolina's state motto has rung true for me since I was a little girl and in a crazy way, it has guided my life.

What was the first job you ever worked?

I worked on my dad's first gubernatorial campaign -- and I learned pretty quickly that politics were not my calling. :)

In the retail world, some boutique stores have difficulty driving sales. Every brand and store, it seems, is trying to sell you on something. How have you navigated that with your own business over the years? How has technology aided or hindered you in that pursuit?

I don't really pay attention to what other boutiques and brands are doing -- it's all about my clients. My concern is finding the right pieces that will function well for their busy lives sand bring them joy. At it's core, our business is about empowering and inspiring women rather than selling to them, so I think that has never really been an issue.

As for technology, it has only aided our businesses. I created House Account so that businesses like Capitol and Poole Shop were constantly able to market to their customers in their own, authentic style.

You’re married. Many couples work in separate fields, with little crossover. How have you and Perry helped each other professionally?

Working with your spouse is certainly (really) not easy, but collaborating with Perry has been one of the highlights of my life.  He is an incredibly supportive partner and always pushes me to go beyond my limits and I think (hope!) he feels the same about me.

Do you stick to a daily routine? What is it?

I spend so much time traveling and when I'm home no two days are the same between my businesses, husband, and my daughter.  My skincare regimen might be my only routine at this point...I'm a total psycho about my skincare.

Where do you see the men’s retail industry heading over the next 10 years at large? Does that direction affect Tabor?

I think the men's retail industry is only just beginning -- only a select set of men are really attuned to what is going on and the realm of possibility.  I think as men become more receptive and creative, so will Tabor, and the menswear industry at large.