Dressed for Success
By Michael Cervin | Photos by Manny Espinoza
Growing up, Tracy Delaney Odle thought she wanted to be a lawyer. But then she found herself sneaking into her mother’s closet and wearing the fancy designer clothes; she wasn’t interested in the clothes her mother had made for her. Odle’s passion for couture took hold and dreams of law school faded.
Today, Odle has given Carmel-by-the-Sea a high-level shopping experience with Augustina’s Boutique. Remodeled, revamped, and recreated, it houses a curated collection of fashionable clothing and accessories from around the globe. Making and offering hand-knit sweaters, leather, and suede, the original Augustina’s Leather’s opened in Carmel in 1987, and was named for Odle’s sister. “My mother was originally a designer on 7th Avenue in New York and had several stores across the US,” she explains. “She was the most incredible woman, inside and out.” Odle admits that her mother has been her biggest influence. She also counts Barbara Streisand as an influencer: “She always had such beautiful taste and made such dynamic choices,” says Odle.
Early on for Odle, Carmel was primarily a place where her family had a clothing store. “My mother loved Carmel more than any place we lived,” she says. But one day, Odle stopped in Carmel and never left. “I met my [future] wonderful husband of 26 years, who is a saint and incredibly supportive of me.” She also found herself with a 402-square-foot store. Within a few years, sales averaged $170,000 and soon grew to over several million dollars a year. Part of that success was Paula Lishman’s sustainable line of hand-knit furs. “We are still her only outlet in the US,” she says.
A few years ago, Odle wanted to do something non-fur-related—a designer boutique. “I gutted the store and implemented a design matrix unheard of within a four-hour radius,” she says. “I carry Loro Piana, Jimmy Choo, Nancy Gonzalez, Marni, Oscar de la Renta, a pretty amazing collection.” Most designers of this stature don’t sell to small independent stores, but Odle has a dedicated, loyal clientele. “We carry high-end designer jewelry with cult-like followings,” she says. Odle even advertises her cell phone number, something unheard of. “I pretty much answer it 20 hours a day,” she says, “I live to make my clients happy, and I work 24/7 for them.”
According to Odle, the current state of fashion is wearable and comfortable for the world in which we live today. “In my business, customers will buy expensive, small items that may cost $20,000 to $50,000 . . . which are subtle yet casual. Luxury shoppers are still wearing beautiful clothes, but they are toned down, so that many people don’t even notice,” she says. “It’s really about fabric, touch, and feel, because the world is so unhappy. With COVID, people need clothing to hug them and make them feel comfortable. That’s what true fashion is about.” But 2020 was unlike any year she’s seen. While she still has her dedicated clientele, there has been a big shift to online purchasing.
The sense of community within Carmel is also important to Odle, and she hopes locals continue to support local businesses where they can receive hospitality they cannot get from an online source. While a big box retailer or online store won’t know your name, Odle does. For her, the future is still bright. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m a warrior, everyone knows I’m a warrior,” she says. “I work harder than anyone else, but I love what I do.” For more information, visit augustinasdesignerboutique.com.