Empowering women one collective at a time

UTSA senior runs collective supporting local female-owned businesses

Genevieve Vega, Distribution Manager

“Hello Gorgeous” illuminates the extraordinary store with a clear sign of support and empowerment for local female entrepreneurs.

Elysia Collective Co., located off of Wurzbach Rd., is a small storefront currently housing 16 unique, local, female-owned businesses. This admirable shop is owned by UTSA senior Emily Howell. Not only does this young entrepreneur own the Elysia Collective Co., but she also owns and operates Emily Grace Designs Co., selling products ranging from t-shirts and sweatshirts to jewelry and more.

Howell’s story begins when she was just in middle school and started her own photography business. 

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Howell said. 

She then worked as a project coordinator for Tuck and Bundle, a company that sells baby wrap carriers. These experiences, in a way, laid the foundation for Howell’s skills which she later applied to Emily Grace Designs Co., a business idea that came to fruition just after she graduated high school in 2020.

 “It’s kind of like an accident business honestly… I got an iPad and then I got a Cricut, it was COVID[-19], so I was trying to find things to do,” Howell explained. 

After support and encouragement from her friends, she started selling her homemade stickers on Etsy, “But whenever I started putting shirts and sweatshirts on Etsy, it really took off.” 

A year later, she started her first collection, leading to the need for a storefront. While searching for a storefront to house Emily Grace Designs Co., she ran into some problems. The spaces she came across were always either way too big or too small for her liking. So, in search of her perfect Goldilocks fit, she decided to create her own storefront. Since she did not need the entire space to herself, she began to think of creative solutions. Having numerous friends who also own small local businesses, she came up with the Elysia Collective Co.

“It’s kind of like a dream of all of ours to be in a storefront. So I was like, what if I just collaborate with other women-owned businesses and see how things go? And honestly, it’s been great. It’s such a supportive community, and it’s been so fun,” she explained.

With her determination, it took Howell only six months to make her dream a reality.

While both her business and the storefront are a dream come true, her success did not come without its fair share of struggles. Fresh out of high school and living in a small apartment, Howell came across her first roadblock: space. 

“Space is a really big thing, especially when you’re selling something as bulky as apparel,” she emphasized. 

So, Howell moved back home, taking up some of her parents’ game room, but that still was not enough. She had to find a location suitable for a higher capacity, eventually leading her to the Elysia Collective Co. property. 

Another struggle that Howell valiantly overcame was funding. Due to this, she primarily produced custom, made-to-order products. Saving her sales profits, she was able to release her first collection. But the obstacles did not stop coming. While trying to open Elysia Collective Co., her plan to tear down a wall to provide an open-concept atmosphere was met with a heavy load of permit requirements. Even so, her headstrong attitude got her through, and she was still able to open up in time for the winter of 2022. 

Of course, Howell’s story does not end here. This ambitious young entrepreneur has much more up her sleeve. 

“I have a new idea like every week … I’m an idea girl,” Howell replied when asked about her future business ventures. 

However, one of these ideas, in particular, stands out to her the most: an event venue. This dream of hers would allow her to host a variety of events ranging from business meetings to weddings. She also has big plans for the future of her current businesses, hoping to someday expand to locations throughout San Antonio and eventually branch out to other areas in Texas, such as Austin and Houston. 

Until then, make sure to check out her new self-care collection dropping February 3rd at the Elysia Collective Co. (11858 Wurzbach Rd.) and find her businesses on Instagram @elysiacollectiveco and @emilygracedesignsco.