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Interview: Kristen Lee of TENOVERSIX

The LA-based multi-label boutique opens a new outpost and coffee bar in a renovated historic hotel in Dallas

by Julie Wolfson in Travel on 15 July 2013

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Housed inside a landmark building in Dallas, boutique hotel The Joule is in the final phases of a two-year expansion and renovation featuring new guest rooms, retail space, a spa and restaurants. Set in the heart of downtown Dallas, The Joule bridges the classic elements of neo-gothic architecture with contemporary components, including a cantilevered glass rooftop pool. The hotel also boasts an art collection with works by Andy Warhol, Tony Cragg, Adam Fuss and Richard Phillips. Combining black and white photographs of downtown Dallas with inspiration from Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth," Adam D. Tihany’s elegant redesign of The Joule celebrates the heritage of the building, the city, as well as Texan culture. Now, the completely redesigned lobby has welcomed TENOVERSIX from Los Angeles—a retail space showcasing clothing, interiors, gifts and a coffee bar.

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We spoke with Kristen Lee of TENOVERSIX to find out how she, along with her partners Brady Cunningham and Joe Cole, got involved in this historic property—as well as some of her top tips for Dallas.

Why is The Joule the right place for the second TENOVERSIX location?

We have been looking for ways to expand the business. The Joule is undergoing a large redevelopment project and they were looking for new retail partners. After meeting with them, touring the site and visiting Dallas a few times, we signed on. We love Dallas. There is a lot of great architecture and art and restaurants.

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What do you love about The Joule?

The Joule is the nicest boutique hotel in Dallas. The expansion includes many new rooms. They bought the building behind them and next to them. They’ve added an ESPA spa and two new restaurants. They're adding a bar, a Taschen library, Traffic from LA, a Comme des Garcon PLAY, TENOVERSIX and Weekend Coffee. All of these businesses are on the retail level of the hotel. It’s really fun. TENOVERSIX and Weekend Coffee are right off of the new lobby on the Commerce Street side.

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How do you approach merchandising the Dallas store? Is your inventory similar or the same as Los Angeles?

We basically apply the same concept that we use in LA. It is an all-white space. It’s very gallery-like: clean, modern, open and airy. We have two spaces next to each other. On one side we have all women's fashion—very similar to what we have in LA, just a little bit expanded. We carry a lot of our favorite designers including Rachel Comey, Alasdair, Vena Cava, and Electric Feathers. Those types of brands. We also carry Anndra Neen, Loeffler Randall, and a lot of the same accessories designers as well. On the other side, we are calling it TENOVERSIX Presents. It is more of a lifestyle, home, gift, design and hotel gift store idea. There we have little things that are nice for hotel guests, from sundries to cute little things for your trip. We also carry home design, lighting, furniture, perfume, and beauty items.

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How did the Weekend Coffee project come about?

When we signed up to open TENOVERSIX there, we became more involved with the developers and the project as a whole. We started consulting with them on various aspects. One thing was what to do with the space next to TENOVERSIX. We really wanted to bring in a coffee shop. A lot of our favorite places to hang out are coffee shops. The three of us are coffee addicts. It was a fun thing to bring in the whole lobby experience. They really wanted the hotel to be a place where people can come have meetings or gather, a cultural spot for the neighborhood. Having a really good coffee shop in the lobby was a good idea. We developed the concept for the Weekend brand and signed on a roaster partner from Seattle, Victrola Coffee Roasters. We have five or six favorite roasters, all from the West Coast. Victrola is really a stand out for us.

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What is happening there in Dallas that makes you feel like TENOVERSIX fits into the mix? What other businesses, galleries, and restaurants have you found in Dallas that you love?

Dallas was a little bit of a surprise for us. The three of us really loved spending time in Austin, but the more time we spent in Dallas, the more we realized that our customer is here. The city has a lot of neighborhoods, much like LA or New York. There is a really great mix of things going on in Dallas. The big reason we wanted to go to Dallas is that there is no store that is like ours, which is fun for us. In Dallas there is nobody who is selling the brands we are selling and has the California modern point of view.

The Joule is in the downtown area near the Arts District. It is two blocks from the Nasher Sculpture Center, which is amazing. The Dallas Museum of Art is about five or six blocks from the hotel. We went to the Art Ball and saw the Cindy Sherman exhibit. There is a new park called Klyde Warren about six blocks from the hotel. It has cute places for kids to play, a line up of food trucks some days, and tons of grass for dogs. The city is putting a lot of money into development. A lot of architects coming in and people from different places are bringing fresh new things.

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Where else do you go when you are in Dallas?

We are next store to the original Neiman Marcus, which is an historic landmark. It is fun for us to be next to something so historic. Our favorite place to go for coffee, before we open Weekend Coffee, is Oddfellows in the Bishop Arts District. It’s a great food neighborhood, from vegan places to Italian restaurants and hamburger joints. Oddfellows has a great coffee program and serves breakfast lunch and dinner. They make beignets that are really good. It’s such a cute neighborhood place. There is a chocolatier that we are carrying in Weekend Coffee called Dude, Sweet Chocolate. It’s really good. They have a little chocolate store in the Bishop Arts District. That’s a great local spot.

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My partner’s husband is vegan and I am vegetarian. It’s kind of hard to find vegan restaurants in Texas. There is a vegan restaurant called Spiral Diner. It is also in the Bishop Arts section. They have classic diner style, but it is all vegan. They have baked goods and sell kombucha. They have almond cheese and all that. There are a thousand things that are delicious.

For other restaurants, there is a really great place called FT33 in the Design District. It’s in a mid-century 60s modern building. The design is beautiful and they make great cocktails and food. There is also a Japanese place called Tei-An. Honestly, it is so beautiful. They have a bubbly fountain in the middle. You feel like you are in Tokyo.

TENOVERSIX Dallas and Weekend Coffee are located in the lobby of The Joule. The hotel’s renovations are expected to be completed later this summer.

Images courtesy of TENOVERSIX, Weekend Coffee and The Joule

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