300: Shop owner follows family legacy

Courtney Runn

Tucked away on 23rd and Rio Grande streets is a small boutique, its door propped open, spilling bright colors onto the sidewalk. Inside is an array of mostly burnt orange clothes, collections of Texas-themed jewelry and the shop owner herself, Tessie Watson. Her sandy blonde hair frames her smiling face as she bustles about, rearranging clothes, restocking trays of treats and welcoming each customer like a long-lost friend. 

After graduating from UT in 2009, Watson began working at a marketing job. Secretly, though, she was eager to follow in her grandfather’s entrepreneurial footsteps. 

Growing up, she lived down the street from her grandfather, a pioneer in the oil and gas industry. She would visit his office as a little girl and hear his stories of building his own business. 

“He worked so hard to get it going,” Watson said. 

It was his fervor, she said, that pushed her to realize she could do the same. 

All of his hard work was always for his family, so they could have a future, he would tell her. With these words in mind, Watson nurtured her love for fashion and business. 

In elementary school, she sold butterfly clips in the school bathroom. In high school, she designed purses.

And finally, inspired by her school spirit, she created Longhorn Fashions. 

She juggled her full-time job while selling her clothes online. She remembers her mother keeping half of the store’s inventory in her home in Dallas so everything could be shipped on time. Her sister was also ready to help, writing many of the online clothing descriptions.

Although Watson’s grandfather didn’t live to see Watson realize her own dreams of entrepreneurship, his picture sits at the front of the store — his face a constant reminder to Watson to persevere through difficult times and never give up on her dreams.