2959 Crockett St., Fort Worth, Texas
In a town more likely to find its fashion footing in denim than designer duds, Lane-Knight is helping to improve the sartorial reputation of the denizens of Fort Worth, aka Cowtown. Dawn Keifer, the astute and chic owner, works in-store most days in order to develop tight relationships with her clients. Like Keifer, the jewelry, accessory, and clothing boutique, which is situated in the bustling West 7th district, possesses an understated elegance, with clean white walls, pristine glass display cases, and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow natural light to flood the room and highlight its stylish and modern merchandise. It’s no surprise that with her keen eye for good taste, Keifer’s unofficial motto is “Live your life in detail.”
Keifer founded Lane-Knight in 2008, when she was working as an accessories buyer for Pier 1 Imports. Frustrated with climbing the corporate ladder, she began looking for an outlet that fed her appetite for both creativity and business. She began Lane-Knight as on online website and, one year later, opened the brick-and-mortar flagship in Fort Worth. “Part of the reason I left Pier 1 to start Lane-Knight was that I was never able to work with my customers,” says Keifer. “As a result, you don’t get a feel for what they want and you end up going by spreadsheet numbers and, consequently, lose sight of their identity.” Now, she says, she is able to remain true to her vision “with flexibility” for the customers’ wishes: “I will never compromise my aesthetic principles to make a ton of money.”
While Keifer stocks Lane-Knight with heavy-hitting jewelry names such as Alexis Bittar, Kara Ross, and Lulu Frost, a good deal of the boutique’s inventory is sourced from smaller, local lines such as Fort Worth’s Gold & Gray, Austin, Texas–based Leighelena, and Three Bishops from neighboring Dallas. “Since I am a small business myself, I know the importance of supporting my colleagues,” she says. Keifer also cites shopping local and wearing local designers as a point of inspiration. “Without smaller lines, people tend to lose their individuality,” she adds. To foster close relationships with her dealers, Keifer frequently hosts trunk shows by local designers as well as by bigger names like the New York City–based What Comes Around Goes Around vintage boutique.
Unlike many smaller boutiques, Lane-Knight differentiates itself with a large online presence. Keifer looks to websites like Shopbop.com, which started as a small brick-and-mortar store in Madison, Wis., as a model. “For me, the ultimate dream is to have a huge presence in the fashion and jewelry market and backing from a large corporation while still retaining creative control,” she says. Thanks to Lane-Knight’s booming online business, Keifer has been able to expand her target demographic and now frequently fills orders for clients in far-reaching locales such as Russia, Brazil, Singapore, and Bahrain. Her online clients are different from her in-store shoppers, she adds, so she stocks each shop with items based on those diverse customer needs.
The Future Looks Bright
Although Fort Worth consistently ranks as one of the most affluent cities in America with Tarrant County enjoying one of the highest concentrations of wealth in the country, the town infamously lacks in independent, fashion-forward retailers. Keifer recognizes the fact that she is helping to put the growing city on the style map. “I want to be a destination spot, somewhere people want to visit when they come in town, either for work or play,” she says. “I want to be the store that has the items you can’t find anywhere else in town or in Texas.” Keifer prides herself on the fact that nearly all her inventory is exclusive to Lane-Knight. Later this year, she will look to expand her clothing and accessories stock by adding jewelry lines such as Lizzie Fortunato and Kelly Wearstler as well as home decor by Jonathan Adler.