e.Allen Brand Builds Style and Confidence
By Sadie Fowler
Anyone remotely familiar with fashion in the Murfreesboro area knows the name e.Allen. In fact, even though it’s a name, it’s become a brand all it’s own — backed by its creator, Elizabeth Allen. Elizabeth Allen opened her first boutique store shy of 10 years ago after deciding to pursue her passion and take a risk.
The risk paid off, and now the name is synonymous with the best styling in the area, from Murfreesboro to the Gulch in Nashville and Franklin in between. Elizabeth Allen has been highly successful in the fashion world and the opening of the newest boutique in September reflects that success.
“I feel like I owe it all to Murfreesboro,” Elizabeth said of e.Allen’s success. “It’s my hometown, where our roots are. Murfreesboro gave me a ton of confidence when I was starting out. They believed in me and now we have such a real client base who’ve also showed up for us and allowed me to fulfill my dreams.”
Moving to the Fountains is rooted in Elizabeth’s desire to maintain the boutique’s identity while supporting the growth. The designer boutique is relocating its Murfreesboro location to the Fountains at Gateway, the new class A office campus and retail district in Murfreesboro developed by Scott Graby of Hearthstone Properties. The official grand opening is set for Sept. 28.
The boutique offers designer collections for women, luxury denim, fine boots, and shoes, handcrafted jewelry and gifts — they specialize in wardrobe styling and teaching women not only what fashions to wear, but how to wear them.
Elizabeth’s passion for Murfreesboro’s growth — as well as that of e.Allen — comes with full appreciation. Born in Minnesota, she moved to Murfreesboro when she was three and remembers growing up; when there wasn’t much more than a Wal-Mart and a Sears. Despite it’s positive growth, she loves the small town appeal the city has maintained.
“People appreciate being next to a big city like Nashville but not right in it,” Allen said. “The cost of living is great, it’s a family-oriented community that’s close-knit. It’s just a really good, well-oiled community.”
Earlier in life, Elizabeth wanted to pursue a career in something along the biology or medical path — she never thought she’d go into fashion. Nevertheless, she’s become known for her keen ability to identify trends seasons before they come alive as well as styling women on pursuit of feeling their best.
“I never thought I’d go into fashion,” she said. “I didn’t think of fashion as being super lucrative … When I was in grade school I would cut out clippings in magazines of clothes I liked; I love the expressive nature of fashion. It’s a revolving thing that always repeats itself and comes full-circle.”
Married to Brad Allen, Elizabeth said her desire to do something with her love for fashion was ignited after she had children. “I felt like I had lost a piece of myself,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but I had lost part of myself.”
She combated that typical “loss of self” feeling motherhood can bring with it and deliberately began focusing more on personal style. “Even if I was just running around with a super effortless look, (dressing the part) made me feel better and more confident. That’s part of the niche of e.Allen. It’s for women who wear many hats.”
Eventually, when luck met opportunity, Elizabeth found herself with her own boutique. “I started e.Allen right in the middle of the recession and people thought I was crazy,” she laughed, explaining her immediate focus even back then was to focus more on the brand she wanted to create than anything else. That focus paid off, as no matter what location e.Allen has explored, it’s always found success.
Five years after opening in Murfreesboro, e.Allen opened its location in the Gulch in Nashville followed by another “chance” undertaking in Franklin — all met with success. The Murfreesboro location found itself at The Avenue, but deep-down Elizabeth said that location wasn’t the right fit for the brand.
“When the Fountains came about I was very interested,” she said. “It seemed very progressive, had good energy and felt special. It’s smaller; we fit in better … I started in Murfreesboro and I need to give them back who we’ve evolved and become. We want people to walk in and get a good, simple, clean feeling.”
Inside the boutique, Elizabeth aims to have the best trends, classics, color schemes — she aims to give people an everlasting closet. Elizabeth is able to do this by taking her job seriously.
“I always keep up with magazines and things like that,” she said. “But to really keep up I go to market and I really study there and pay attention. I sit there and digest and take it all in. I visit with my vendors and really take notes … When I go to market next month I’ll be buying for next year. Market is about forecasting trends and colors.”
Staying on top of all this, being a mom, and running a business can be a hard act to balance, and it’s a challenge Elizabeth admits took time to learn.
“Achieving balance was the hardest thing for me to achieve,” she said. “Early on I remember I’d put the kids to bed and then be up until 3 a.m. working. Balance was something I had to learn … Sometimes I still push myself too hard, because when you have a family there are always things that come up that are just out of your control, but just being aware, that helps.”
She relies on personal outlets like kickboxing and yoga to serve as a big release for her busy lifestyle. Another strategy that helps her day to day is focusing on the matter at hand.
“Wherever I am, I’m present,” she said. “If I’m at work I am focused on work; if I’m home I put my phone away. We get away a couple times a year and do staycations when we need to reboot. Spending time with the people you really want to spend time with is key to balance.”
The success of e.Allen has helped Elizabeth Allen realize her purpose. Whether it’s styling a woman or coaching a young employee (she has 15 and each one is carefully selected) she loves touching the lives of others. She thrives on helping others reach their best self, whether that means their wardrobe or their approach on life.
“I really feel like that is my purpose,” she said. “I really do think that’s it.”
The young women who work for her are part of a team effort led by Elizabeth, who strives in making a positive mark on their lives in some way.
“I really do try to help and keep my hands in the molding of the girls in some way,” she said. “Even if someone leaves or even gets fired I always try to say something to them that they hopefully will carry with them and remember at their next job, or maybe when they’re 30.”
Though e.Allen’s growth has made it impossible to be everywhere she wants to be at once, Elizabeth has learned to surround herself with talent and maximize her time wisely. Still, though, her greatest love remains at the core of her business.
“The thing I truly love most about what I do is working with the customer,” she said. “I love dressing them and hearing their feedback. I can’t do it as much anymore with so many stores, but that part of this is so important to me. I love styling a customer and even though it’s work, it’s a breath of fresh air to me. I really do love it.”