Photography by Yuvie Styles.

Carley Seale is a lover of two things: retail and people.

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Seventeen years ago, the Lake Highlands neighbor made the leap and opened a women’s boutique, a dream she’d longed for since childhood.

“It was just a little girl dream to be honest. When I was 15, I got my first job in a fine jewelry store in Tyler, Texas, where I grew up … I worked retail even before I could drive [and] through college,” she says.

At a young age, she became fascinated with retail as it “held endless opportunities.” Seale, who can be restless at times, fell for the constant hustle and bustle of owning a store.

“The success of a shop isn’t a recipe that can be followed, a store is the sum of a million moving parts,” she says.

Seale, who attended Oklahoma University for a bachelor’s degree in accounting, landed her first “real job” at an accounting firm in Dallas. After one year of working at the firm, she decided it wasn’t for her, but the city was.

So she switched to medical sales. For 10 years, it worked, but Seale wasn’t entirely satisfied.

During her time as a sales rep, she constantly traveled, experiencing various cultures and retail with her friends around the country. Upon her return home, Seale noticed the women’s boutiques she’d come to love during her travels lacked a presence in East Dallas.

So, she had an idea: Why not open a women’s boutique?

The decision to open a small business was a drastic shift for Seale. She was starting her company in 2007, right on the precipice of the financial crisis of 2008. Despite the challenge, five stores later, her boutiques continue to grow in business.

When opening her store in 2007, Seale had no guarantees it was going to work.

“When starting a business, you not only evaluate the opportunities, you hypothesize every worst case scenario,” she says. “When the possibility [of] failure is overshadowed by your dreams and a solid business plan, it’s time to get to work. Funny enough, those hypotheticals I defined as the ‘worst case scenario’ have actually happened multiple times [and] I’m still here.”

Her first store, Gypsy Wagon, later renamed Favor the Kind, operated on the corner of Bonita Avenue and Henderson Avenue in a space formerly occupied by a tattoo parlor.

Seale and her mother got to work, scrubbing the floors and painting the walls. They did everything they could to “make it cute” at least, for their three-year lease.

While she envisioned her mother helping her navigate life as a new mom and business owner, Seale’s mother died of pancreatic cancer two years after opening her first store and having her first child.

Her mother’s buisness teachings shaped her buisness model: work hard, be extra kind to people and have fun.

In 2010, it was time to move to a new space off Henderson Avenue, still offering women’s apparel, accessories, children’s clothing and toys, home décor, shoes, stationary items and self care products.

Within the first few years of opening, it was clear what the establishment had become more than what she envisioned.

“We’ve been around 17 years, I’m seeing women that I sold baby clothes [and] their daughter’s [are now] graduating and then their mom is still coming in, it’s just been so intentional for that specific reason,” she says.

Seale decided it was time to expand Favor the Kind outside of Dallas, opening stores in Houston and Crested Butte, Colorado.

At all three Favor the Kind locations, customers new and old continue to fill the store each day. Some buy dresses for their daughters, gifts for a bridal party and new outfits for brunch with accessories to compliment them.

“I’m the type of person [that] the minute everything seems calm, I’m going to operate [on] something again. I can’t help it,” she says.

In 2015, Seale opened ROAM Fine Goods, offering global artisan-made home goods, gifts and jewelry in Colorado in addition to Favor the Kind. Not too long after, she opened a location in the Preston Royal Shopping Center and a third store in Lakewood in November 2023.

She relaxed for four months before making another business move.

In March, Favor the Kind lost the lease of its Henderson Avenue location. So they packed their belongings then headed to their new home at 3024 Greenville Ave.

The store will reopen in the former space of San Francisco Rose on May 1, featuring an updated look with expanded retail space and additional parking.

In addition, she is opening a second storefront at the end of the street called Ernest John Honest Goods, inspired by the names of her two children and her uncle’s store in New York.

The Ernest John Honest Goods store will be similar to Rose Apothecary from Schitt’s Creek, she jokes, as it is a sustainable lifestyle and apothecary shop. A private label refillery, customers will be able to bring in their bath and body products for refills, which helps eliminate plastic waste.

Reflecting on the young girl who had a dream, she feels proud of the decisions she’s made, she says.

“I still made some costly mistakes, [but] I learned how to lead and, in painful ways, how not to lead. I have almost lost it all twice, but I didn’t give up,” she says. “It’s a business, but I treat it like a garden that grows the fruits of kind culture, leadership and community.  If I could talk to little Carley, I’d tell her that it is never going to be perfect, so don’t make that the goal. I’d tell her there is no such thing as a mistake, only lessons and lessons make you smart. I’d tell her joy is a commodity that can be sold in little gray bags with rainbow bows, you just have to believe.”