Retail Venture Is Like a Family Vacation

Twin sisters Amanda and Laura Ernst started online boutique Sunshine Tienda out of their love for travel and the vacation lifestyle. So the name makes sense.

But it’s their mutual background in fashion — both graduated from LIM College (formerly the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising) in New York — that allowed the Preston Hollow natives to combine their passions.

“It’s something we’ve always talked about for years,” Laura said about the launch of Sunshine Tienda last November. “The reason I love it is because this is our taste and what we think is beautiful.”

Laura previously worked as a personal stylist and trend forecaster, so her creativity was tailored to the clients’ tastes. Now, Laura and her sister can showcase their own style.

Sunshine 5Their inventory encompasses a broad range of items, from woven straw bags and handmade jewelry to beach towels and salad servers. The siblings use Etsy to find designers in the United States, but many of their “goodies” come from countries around the world.

Almost all items are priced under $100 to mimic the affordability of foreign markets. That promotion of fairly traded products is most important to Amanda.

“We keep the shopper in mind and try to keep the price point down,” Amanda said. “It’s becoming more than just a trend.”

About half of their inventory consists of fair-trade items. There’s also a “one-of-a-kind” section of handpicked goods from their own travels.

Despite being in two different cities, the sisters manage to keep Sunshine Tienda running smoothly. Amanda is based in Austin while Laura lives in Preston Hollow, so technology keeps them in close contact.

In addition to selling beautiful items from around the world, Sunshine Tienda is an online haven for all things travel. Laura and Amanda started a blog on their site to showcase different experiences from themselves and other adventurers.

“We want to live the lifestyle,” Laura said. “We just want people to get out there and travel.”

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