Visiting Catrina’s at the Ranch in Boerne is like going on a treasure hunt – you never know what you’re going to find, but you know it’s going to be well worth the search.

 

 “There’s an abundance of merchandise,” says Catrina Hoelke, award-winning designer, entrepreneur, and owner of the 6 1/2-acre furniture and design compound that bears her name. “The look in the store changes day by day.”

 

And what a look it is. Every corner of the 7000-square foot main building is brimming with one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, hand-forged chandeliers, artwork, tableware, tribal rugs, and eye-catching accessories from all over the world.

 

Hoelke grew up in the furniture business, working as a designer and buyer for stores in Texas and Colorado. It was during her recovery from a broken neck in 1998 that she decided to strike out on her own, opening Catrina’s Closet – a used clothing and furniture store — in Camp Wood, Texas.

 

“I started with five hundred dollars,” she says, sitting on one of her comfy custom-designed sofas replete with fringed pillows.  “That’s what my husband gave me, jokingly, when I said I wanted to start a business. He said, ‘Here you go, baby. Run with it.’”

 

She did – from the Camp Wood store to Catrina’s Western Center in Uvalde to a store in Sabinal, eventually finding a small space on Boerne’s Main Street until she found the present property on IH 10 West in 2004. There was one small snag: the building (ironically the former home of the Loft Restaurant, one of Hoelke’s first design jobs 35 years ago)
was condemned. City officials told her it was a scraper – there was no way to fix it. “I told them to hide and watch. I was a determined woman.”

 

That’s putting it mildly. Hoelke is a whirlwind, dealing with staff, taking calls, showing a visitor through some of the dozen or so display rooms at her showroom, and talking the whole time about the journey that brought her back to Boerne and the passions that fuel her jam-packed life.

 

“I work seven days a week. That’s what it’s taken to build this business.” She’s drawn as well to charities close to her heart – the new battered women’s shelter being built in Boerne, the American Cancer Society, the Cattle Baron’s Ball, and the San Antonio Zoo.

In addition, there’s a new passion in a new town – San Antonio, to be exact. In October, Hoelke opens her new store, La Catrina, off 1604 and Babcock near The Shops at La Cantera.

 

“It will have a more European look mixed with contemporary,” says Hoelke, adding that it will be a perfect complement to the Texas Tuscan look of the ranch store.  “La Catrina will give customers a whole new selection and choice.”

 

La Catrina will also carry on the tradition of providing the ultimate in customer service, especially Hoelke’s signature custom designs that allow clients to help create the perfect look. “They can select their own fabrics and styles so that their choices are unique and
fit their home décor.” They can also take home whatever they see at the store, unlike
some other high-end furniture stores that make you wait six to eight weeks while they order a sofa you saw on the showroom floor. “Anything you see here, you can buy.
We won’t make you wait.”

 

Others need Hoelke’s expert advice on site. A design call involves a visit to the home or business to photograph the space, then sketching out designs for suggested pieces.
“We price it all out in a list, room by room, so they know exactly what they’re spending.” There no additional charge for custom designs either, whether it’s one piece or a whole room. 

 

Hoelke is mindful of the rarefied image custom furniture has as being inaccessible to the average consumer. Not true, she says.  “We save money here. Other stores might mark up an item three times with freight. We don’t do that. People love to fix up their homes, but these are hard times and we appreciate that. We give them great value here.”

 

Hoelke shares the wealth in other ways, never forgetting how she started out and paying
it forward by mentoring other women with business dreams of their own. “I want to be the message to women that they can do it too. Start small and persevere. Find something you enjoy and diligently work at it.  Don’t give up and don’t look back.”

 

 

Catrina’s at the Ranch is located at 31300 IH-10 West in Boerne. To learn more about custom furnishings and accessories, and the new La Catrina store opening soon, call 830.755.6355 or visit www.catrinasattheranch.com.

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