3663 Bee Cave Rd., Austin, Texas
“Life Is Beauty Full” reads a sign in Lora Pelto’s inviting boutique in Austin’s tony West Lake Hills neighborhood
When Texas native Lora Pelto opened Anna Gray back in 2008, she named it after her mother, a modest woman who always put the needs of her seven children above notions of glamour or indulgence. There’s a warmth to her brightly lit space that she thinks would have put her unpretentious mother at ease. “I want people to feel comfortable here,” says Pelto. “Bring your dogs in, bring your kids in. This is a happy place.”
One of a Kind
This isn’t your traditional engagement ring factory. Pelto considers herself a curator first and foremost, priding herself on the fact that Austinites will find 90 percent of the lines she carries—from Anne Sportun to H. Weiss to Heather Moore—only at her boutique in town. Just as she wants her customers to revel in their individual expression, Pelto seeks to create personal connections to the jewelry. At an Anna Gray trunk show, such as the recent one she hosted with New York City designer Suzy Landa, she invites customers to mingle with the artisans themselves, rather than have salespeople hawk the line.
Help a Brother Out
“I probably sell more dollarwise to men than I do women,” says Pelto. “They don’t feel comfortable going into that starchy jewelry store.” During our interview, an older gentleman, one of Pelto’s regulars, comes in looking for graduation presents for his nieces. “I’m lost,” he says. “I don’t even know where to begin.” Pelto lovingly guides him to the Zoë Chicco case, and together they pick out a bracelet and pair of earrings perfect for young women starting their next chapter of life.
Today Is the Special Occasion
One of Pelto’s missions is to encourage women not to wait to celebrate beauty. “I wish women would put on their nice jewelry every day and not say, ‘Oh, that’s for a special occasion,’ ” she says. That doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank for the sake of sparkle. A pair of local designer Amy Holton’s natural stone beaded hoop earrings costs just $85.
Honor Your Roots
Besides fine jewelry, Pelto carries inspirational art and textiles from Sugarboo Designs and tumblers by Seattle-based Glassybaby. Ten percent of the proceeds for the colorful glassware goes to the local Alzheimer’s nonprofit where Pelto volunteers in honor of her dad, who died from the disease. And on the bookshelf behind her register sits a black-and-white photo of Pelto with her then-4-year-old daughter and her mother. “I started the business as a single mom,” she says, “and I think I’ve created something my mom would be proud to have her name on.”
(Photography by Ryann Ford)