The best dressed people in Austin all have something in common: their clothes are coming from the boutique Kick Pleat, that sells trend-setting brands like Rachel Comey, Apiece Apart and Lemaire. Its owner, Wendi Koletar, is as stylish as you’d expect. After leaving the corporate world to find her true passion, Koletar opened Kick Pleat 12 years ago. Its stellar success has led to the opening of the new 3,400-square foot home in downtown Austin, with more thoughts of expansion. We asked the mama of two about keeping her business fresh and dressing for comfort and style, and she schooled us on the art of the breakfast taco.
Tell us about your personal style.
I tend to make fun of myself and say that I like luxury pajamas, because I only dress very comfortably. I love a wide-leg pant, an oversize top, high-waisted pants and looking to the 90’s for influences. I like interesting proportions and silhouettes. I try not to wear the same thing twice, but that doesn’t mean the same piece of clothing — typically, I only have like seven things in my closet. I’m loving a slide right now on the foot. I have a two-year-old and a seven-month-old: Heels are gone.
Who are some designers you’re loving?
I basically want to live in Apiece Apart’s clothing. It’s wearable and comfortable but cool and you can still do your own thing. And I feel like Kick Pleat, that’s what we do: We’re a boutique, but with clothing that you can wear every day in to the night. I buy what I love. I wouldn’t necessarily wear everything in my store, but I like everything in my store. I feel that the brands I carry are the best in the industry. Lemaire is a passion of mine. I love Humanoid and Rachel Comey.
What’s a typical day?
I wake up with my kids. Coffee is my survival. I make Cuvee Coffee in my French press and have it with almond milk. That’s the first thing I do. From 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., it’s breakfast and tooth brushing and entertaining. I shower at night so I can have my morning with the kids, and as soon as my nanny arrives at 10, I can walk out the door.
The second I walk into the store, I get an idea of what is happening. It’s funny, when it’s your baby, you’re like, “Why is this rack like that?” It’s so important that when someone walks in, they feel special and that the store feels special. It reflects the brand, what we’re trying to sell and who we’re trying to be.
I always have a lot of emails and buying. And I do all the styling and planning for our photo shoots, which are once or twice a week. Then I go home about 4 p.m., and it’s all about babies again: dinners, baths, attention. They go down at 7:30 p.m., and that’s when I get a lot of my creative work done. I feel like I never am resting now because I’ve got kids. But it’s so worth it. In order to keep giving the business the attention it needs, I have to do things when they’re asleep. So when they go down, I do my buying, research, web browsing and magazine reading.
How does food fit into your day?
We joke at Kick Pleat that all we talk about is food, fashion and feelings.The world does not understand the importance of the breakfast taco. It’s has protein and carbs, it’s never too much, but if you want it to be too much, you get two of them. So the breakfast taco is important in my life. Everyone in Austin is super opinionated about where to go for the best taco.
So where do you go for your breakfast tacos?
Well, Cocina de Consuelo has homemade flour tortillas. I do black beans, eggs, cheese and avocado and you only get one here because they’re big. Tacodeli is always a favorite because of the way their meat is seasoned, their eggs are local and their salsas are amazing. There I do the sirloin, egg and cheese. Torchy’s is more for lunch or dinner: I get the Trailer Park taco, with fried chicken. When I was pregnant, I blew up Torchy’s. Also, there is a great drive-through by my house called El Tacorrido that I love. They make a breakfast burrito with egg, cheese, bacon and nopales(cactus). You need the bacon for texture, because the eggs and cactus are soft.
How about the rest of the day?
I like to do something healthy but satisfying for lunch. We are constantly at Fresa’s, which is near Kick Pleat. There’s also a grocery store called Wheatsville that always has delicious healthy, organic options. As far as snacks go, I love a smoothie, which I consider a snack, not a meal, some yogurt and banana chips. I just made a great homemade trail mix with almonds, cashews and dark-chocolate chips.
One of my favorite dinner places in Austin is so delicious and so inexpensive: Mr. Natural. It’s vegetarian Mexican food, and I’m not even vegetarian. They have the best migas I’ve ever had, period, the end. And the refried beans are out of this world — and refried beans aren’t even exciting! I like inexpensive hole-in-the-walls that are awesome
What do you wear for a night out?
When it's warm out, I like a high-waisted, wide-leg trouser with a button-down tied at the waist and the sleeves rolled up, with a ‘90s-looking Robert Clergerie slide. When it gets colder, I go for loose-fitting trousers, probably black. I like the idea of living in trousers for both comfort and dress up. I would also wear a sleeveless black turtleneck and long, trench-y layer over the whole outfit. Maybe with an Oxford, heeled bootie or a good flat.
Does buying take you to some cool cities?
My buying takes me to New York and Paris, and I find them both inspiring for different reasons. Everywhere I go, I keep an eye out. In Italy, I buy leather bags that sell great in my store, and Turkey was phenomenal for the textiles. And, of course, I love the way Parisienne women dress. The word you always hear, but is absolutely accurate, is effortless. I think it is work to be that effortless.
What would be your favorite thing to eat while wearing stretchy pants?
Go to a Mexican restaurant, probably Polvos and likely start with the queso, which has ground meat, guac, jalapeños, onions and tomatoes in it that I'll eat along with chips and salsa. Along with that I’m probably going to do fajitas on corn tortillas, with grilled vegetables and piled with cheese, sour cream and guacamole. That’s when sweats are necessary.
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