Story by Amanda Wells
Photos by Gary Kessel
Anna Avant is one of the lucky few people that are living out the dreams of their childhood. “As a little girl, I spent a lot of time at my Granny and Grandaddy’s house in Greenwood,” says Anna, a Mississippi Delta girl herself.
Anna’s love of fashion and “dress up” continued as she took dance lessons primarily for the opportunity to wear the costumes. “Granny would make me dress up in clothes like sequined blouses and satin skirts,” remembers Anna, who developed a love of vintage accessories during her teenage years. “I couldn’t really fit into Granny’s clothing. She’s very statuesque and had that amazing bombshell figure. I, on the other hand, am five three and have tiny feet. So, since I couldn’t wear her clothing I would add vintage purses and brooches to my outfits. My love of vintage has just grown and evolved since then.”
After college, Anna spent seven years in the corporate world where she says she was often looked at a little funny coming to work in her 1970s secretary dresses. She knew she wanted more. “I told my husband my dream of opening a clothing store that would carry both vintage and new clothing,” explains Anna. “I knew exactly how I wanted it to look and had so many visions in my head. He loved the idea.”
The couple got to work on a business plan and Anna said goodbye to the corporate world a year later. Ten months later, the doors of Hoot + Louise opened in Memphis’ South Main Arts District. Hoot + Louise was named after Anna’s fashion inspiration, her Granny, of course. “Her nickname is Hoot and her given name is Louise,” says Anna. “It was only fitting to name the store after her.”
Anna chose the South Main Arts District for her love of downtown Memphis and desire to be housed in an old space. “The grit, character, and history of the area is a reminder of how wonderful our city truly is,” she says.
Each item in Hoot + Louise, both new designs and vintage, are hand-selected by Anna. “I’m very picky and spend lots of time in and out of the store finding pieces that are timeless,” she says. “I don’t go to market because I like to find things that no one else has and I love obscure, indie lines.” Anna recommends mixing modern and vintage pieces together and going for pieces that aren’t too trendy. “I like lines and looks that have staying power or that are like a wearable piece of art.”
When it comes to shopping vintage, Anna says check the tags, as they will tell everything about the quality and decade. “If it screams a decade and has no stains or tears – think shoulder pads and ruffles for the 80s – grab it! Also, any vintage clothing that is handmade is usually amazing and so well made that it will be in great condition forever!”