Houses may be built with brick and wood, but how we decorate and fill their empty spaces can transform them into a home. The Tree House provides customers with quirky wall decorations, rustic accents, and unique furniture that will bring life to any room in a home. This quiet Texas treasure combines the earthy aesthetic of Bohemian patterns and prints with local art, accessories, and wellness items. Bluehost sat down with owner and designer Melyn Einhaus to discuss the life of an entrepreneur and the benefits of running a local business in the small town of Wimberley and the growing city of Austin, Texas.
Decorative items are a big staple of The Tree House, how did you find yourself in the business of home decor?
“I previously worked at National Instruments doing treasury and audits for branches in Europe and Asia, which was great and enabled me to both travel the world and learn a lot about how different businesses operate. On the side, I was always helping out friends and family with their home decorating, whether that was buying furniture, bedding, or art…and I loved it! I knew I wanted a huge change so I decided to get out of finance. I began to pursue interior design blogging and wanted to find jobs that allowed me to study interior design without going back to school for another degree. I left my job and went to work at a furniture store in Austin for a month where I met Susan Evans who was also a designer.
Susan and I shared a mutual interest in having a storefront and began talking about potential sites to buy a store. We considered Gruene in the New Braunfels area, but there was a lot of competition to get retail space because it is a popular tourist destination. Gruene proved to be both expensive and hard market to break into, so Susan suggested the nearby town of Wimberley, Texas. During occasional trips to see my musician husband play at Gruene Hall, I would pass a cute house for sale on Ranch Road 12 in Wimberley. I thought it would be a perfect place for our business, so I put in an offer and we just went for it.”
Coincidence seemed to create the perfect recipe for success! Your first location was in Wimberley and then you expanded to Austin, what are the differences between both stores?
“It is fun to experience the small Texas tourist town customer in Wimberley and then have more of a local/repeat customer in Austin. Each store location has separate challenges, but we’re always learning, evolving, and figuring stuff out. Susan is an awesome designer and we have a great team of people working with us. I love my employees like family and we have a lot of fun even though it’s a lot of work. I have five people that help run the store in Wimberley and eight in Austin.”
You mentioned that you and Susan are both designers, how do you maintain a balance between design and business?
“Susan deals with the artistic side of things and is gifted in decorating and is great with customers, and I am more hands on with the business operations and do all the buying.”
How did you come up with the name, “The Tree House”?
“Our cute little house in Wimberley is nestled in oak trees and is very reminiscent of a treehouse in terms of style and structure. I love the natural, fun, hippy elements of a treehouse which is what our brand represents from the items we sell to the way we decorate the store. Even though we’re adults, the concept of living in a modern day treehouse is still fun.”
That’s really interesting that your physical location had such a large impact on the name of your space. What do you love most about being a business owner?
“It would be very hard now to go back to anything different. I love the creativity that I’m allowed to have and that I’m not being instructed to do anything in a particular way. Business owners are allowed to think outside the box. There is no formula to follow, which can be scary, but I love that too. I also enjoy being part of the local community and I love that our small town location enables me to get to know the other business owners. Customers also become a part of your life and its hard to imagine not knowing all these awesome people.”
The concept of “home,” is a notion that many people can connect with, how would you describe implementing that feeling in the environment of The Tree House?
“It makes me happy to hear people come in the stores and say the ambiance makes them happy. We hear that all the time. People come in for inspiration during the holidays or just to feel uplifted when they are having a challenging day. I believe retail therapy is a very real thing. To look at pretty things and take in the sights and scents, regardless of buying anything, can be very impactful and can even change a bad day into a good day. I think we do a good job of creating that fun and positive environment for people to visit, even if they aren’t looking for anything in particular.
We make our spaces into little homes. Austin is a bit smaller and more commercial than our original location so we’re always very mindful of what we can use to make sure that space also feels like home. The Wimberley location was truly meant to be a treehouse. When we tore down the drywall we found it was built using numerous natural cedar posts so we left these exposed instead of hiding them behind new drywall! What I love most about our business is getting to know our customers and creating spaces where they can escape life for a moment and just immerse themselves within our stores.”
The Tree House features an array of different products both in store and online, how do you decide what items you want to sell?
“We started with home decor and gifts and those will always be at the heart of the business. Whether that be furniture or rugs or textiles or wall art, originating from all over the world, or just the perfect little gifts for family or friends or to treat yourself. We added apparel a few years into the business and carry different brands in each store, such as Johnny Was, Lucky, Free People, Show Me Your Mumu, Dear John, and Bella Dahl, and apparel is now our top selling category at our Austin store! Both stores also feature original art pieces from Eli Hapin, who is an Austin artist who paints beautiful oil paintings that focus on animal’s facial expressions with unique twists.
The Tree House also caters to our DIY customers by carrying Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan, which is an amazing paint that allows you to paint furniture or cabinetry (or pretty much anything else!), without having to sand or strip or prime the piece first. Overall, we work hard to have a good mix of apparel, home decor, and gifts and we do our best to make the stores warm, happy, beautiful, and reminiscent of a home. We say “Shop the Tree House for home and happiness” and I think that really sums up our goal of providing items of beauty to make our customers and their homes feel comfortable and happy.”
We’re so happy we got to chat with you Melyn, thank you for your time!