Lulie’s on Cahaba

Story and photos by Jennifer Taylor

If you asked most high school seniors where they would be 10 years after graduation, chances are their answer would not actually be where they end up 10 years down the road.

Lauren Stewart, however, ended up exactly where she said she would be when she was a high school senior.

“I never really had any intentions of working in fashion, but in that video,  I said ‘I’ll probably own a women’s boutique,’” Stewart said. “My senior video was definitely the instigator in my decision to open a boutique.”

Stewart is now the owner of Lulie’s on Cahaba, an upscale women’s boutique located on Cahaba Road in Mountain Brook Village.

Stewart grew up in Baton Rouge, La., and found her way to Alabama when she decided to attend college at Auburn University.

While at Auburn, Stewart studied marketing and Spanish, still with no intention of working in the fashion industry.

“My mom is originally from Mountain Brook and my parents decided to move there while I was at Auburn,” Stewart said. “That’s how I got to know the area.”

When it came time for Stewart to graduate, her love of fashion and her statement from her senior video came to mind and two months later, Lulie’s on Cahaba opened in July 2009.

“My parents heard that a building in Mountain Brook Village was for sale. It honestly was a right-place, right-time kind of situation when I decided to open Lulie’s,” Stewart said.

One of the first things Stewart had to do upon deciding to open a boutique and acquiring a space was choose a name for her business.

“I chose the name Lulie’s because my sister called me ‘Lulieboo’ when we were toddlers and later my nickname just became Lulie,” Stewart said.

A self-described people person, Stewart enjoys helping women who usually have trouble putting things together to flatter their body type.

Lauren Stewart, owner of Lulie's on Cahaba

“I love using fashion to lift spirits. When you help someone put together an outfit or pick out a simple piece such as a scarf or jewelry, it can really boost their self-esteem,” Stewart said.

Although opening a new business has proved challenging at times, Stewart’s love for fashion and the opportunity to help women feel confident make her job worthwhile.

Stewart hopes that Lulie’s on Cahaba will stand out as a store where mothers and daughters can shop together and know that they will be helped in selecting clothing that makes them look and feel their best.

“Working in fashion, no day is the same. I can’t imagine working in an office and sitting at a desk all day. I’m too much of a people person,” Stewart said. “I want women of all ages to come in and feel accommodated and know that someone will help them find that perfect, flattering outfit for any occasion,”

For help selecting that perfect outfit no matter your age, visit Lauren Stewart and the girls at Lulie’s on Cahaba.

Lulie’s on Cahaba
2724 Cahaba Road
Mountain Brook, Alabama

Mulberry Heights

Caroline Bradford began her love affair with antiques sometime during a childhood spent looking through her grandmother’s attic. “I’ve always loved old things,” the Birmingham native and mother of three said.

It was that pleasure for the old-fashion that lead her to start Mulberry Heights Antiques. The small business sits along Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook Village. Cars and foot traffic are frequent as they pass by. The elegant store is one of many in the area and attracts visitors from all over the region.

Nearly eleven years has passed since Bradford first started her antiques store. What began as a childhood fascination with decorating lead her 18 years ago to start an interior design business with a friend. From there eventually became what is now Mulberry Heights. Bradford found having her own business outside of her home much easier and enjoyable.

“The fact that when you’re helping personal clients it’s so time consuming and you can’t leave it it’s always something you’re thinking about I just know that I’d rather have a retail shop and still sell and work with beautiful things.” The store first opened in a small house in Cahaba Heights, not originally in Mountain Brook. Bradford says that after a while they discovered that Cahaba was at the time, “Off the beaten path.” Only then when the store was moved to Mountain Brook did her business begin to pick up and sell more.

And its that same environment that she sees as so important to the benefit of Mulberry Heights.  “Mountain Brook is just a true destination place,” she says. Her business holds many of the things one would always find in an elegant antique shop but is known famously for its hand-painted Mulberry China found all throughout the store.

While having the store in Mountain Brook has been wonderful for business there was in Mulberry Heights a concern that being in an area such as Mountain Brook might be as Bradford puts it “intimidating.” “It’s getting better. Definitely several years ago that was a real thing we had to try to get over.” The concern of a fancy antiques store intimidating potential customers has not been a problem for Bradford’s business.

She believes very strongly that Mountain Brook has worked hard to be more inviting and overcome an old money stigma. “When you get personal with the businesses I think that really helps and makes other people see that this is just like anywhere else.”

And that personal touch has translated into a successful operation that appeals to all kinds of customers, especially through advertising. Bradford credits the company’s website along with their Facebook page as helping to branch out and reach more people.

Walking through the store one can find a rich variety of items all shipped from overseas. Many come from France where Bradford and her husband have visited often.

Customers who visit the store find it to be quiet and inviting. And while most are normally from the Mountain Brook area, some occasionally defy such a mold. One recent buyer included a former producer for the program “7th Heaven.” A sign that Mulberry Heights, like its antiques, can stay a part of Mountain Brook, while reaching beyond it.