WE ARE
STRONG.
WE ARE
RESILIENT.
WE ARE
HOUSTON.

HOUSTON RALLIES shines a light on heroic small
businesses and the things you can do now to rally
behind them, help them stay afloat, and save jobs.

WE ARE
STRONG.
WE ARE
RESILIENT.
WE ARE
HOUSTON.

HOUSTON RALLIES shines a light on heroic small businesses and the things you can do now to rally behind them, help them stay afloat, and save jobs

DAO CHLOE
DAO

With a heart for community service,

Houston’s own Project Runway winner and boutique owner Chloe Dao shifts seamlessly from fashion designer to mask maker and back again.

DAO CHLOE
DAO

With a heart for community service,

Houston’s own Project Runway winner and boutique owner Chloe Dao shifts seamlessly from fashion designer to mask maker and back again.

Eight years in New York. It was a smart, strategic move for aspiring fashion designer Chloe Dao, who had called Houston her home since she was a young child. And even though those eight years in New York took her far from home, they gave Chloe opportunities to learn from the best in the industry and hone the craft she loved.

Over her last two years in New York, Chloe began preparing for what would come next: opening her own small business, a fashion boutique. Her extensive retail and market research revealed to her that calling Houston home once again would be another smart, strategic move.

After she first opened her Rice Village boutique in 2000, Chloe’s designs were so well received that she had to double her small business’ space just four years later. In 2005, Chloe tried out for and was invited to be on the cast of reality TV show Project Runway, an opportunity that made her name truly known in the fashion world. She stunned the judges with her runway collection and was crowned the season two winner in 2006. Chloe was subsequently featured by Elle, Forbes, and CNN and has been a spokesperson for Barbie and Dove. She also provided collections for QVC for two years.

In the years since, Chloe has paid back much of her success to the community she has loved since some of her earliest memories, becoming an ardent philanthropist. In fact, philanthropy has played an integral role in her design and business philosophy, and Chloe routinely partners with charitable causes and organizations like the Salvation Army, Girl Scouts, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Think Pink. She’s also passionate about mentoring the next generation of designers and about surrounding herself with strong mentors, such as connections she made in the Rice MBA program, as well as Janet Gurwitch, founder of Laura Mercier Cosmetics.

“Janet is the one who told me to change the name of my business and boutique [from Lot 8, inspired by her eight siblings] to Dao Chloe Dao,” says Chloe. “Janet said the name in and of itself was the brand.”

Janet was right.

But no amount of mentoring could have helped Chloe – or any small business owner – anticipate a pandemic or navigate through the uncertainty it brought.

She did, however, anticipate that business closures would be necessary, so two days before the stay-at-home order took effect in Houston, Chloe made the difficult decision to close her boutique.

“It was quite emotional for me to close because my whole life is about this business,” Chloe recalls. “For 20 years, I had been working seven days a week – and then everything came to a standstill.”

But it wasn’t long before Chloe the philanthropist took center stage – and got busy.

“I was listening to NPR about how Taiwan was containing the pandemic and researching what I could do to help. And then it came to me. Everyone was talking about needing masks,” says Chloe.

So, the mighty force revved up her engines once again and began making masks, initially for the public and then first responders. As word got out about her mask donation, Chloe was stunned by how many people reached out to her about their own needs. Next she made masks to donate to those who greatly needed them but could not obtain them. With the help of generous donations, Chloe and her two assistants have now produced face masks by the thousands, distributing them to healthcare workers, homeless shelters, lower-income households, and those battling cancer in their households.

Needless to say, Chloe is back to working seven days a week. Turning again to extensive research, Chloe identified ideal characteristics for face masks, looking to design masks that were antibacterial, washable, water resistant, and breathable. In the end, Chloe designed four unisex styles and is producing them in a variety of sizes and colors for purchase in her boutique and online at her newly updated site, chloedao.com.

As communities and small businesses like hers start to open back up, Chloe knows that her future is to design the things that people need by truly connecting with her community and focusing on quality.

What you can do now:

Since reopening, Chloe contemplates how lucky she knows she has been, even now. “It’s been pleasantly surprising,” says Chloe of their first weeks back open.

Chloe encourages patrons to keep shopping local, emphasizing that her small business is limiting customers to just four at a time and taking many other precautions to keep shoppers safe, such as enacting strict cleaning procedures, requiring masks, and providing a hand sanitizing station and contactless payment technology. And for those who aren’t ready to venture out just yet, Chloe understands – and is keeping her website up to date with her latest collections and mask designs.

Chloe also asks those who are interested in helping her provide masks to those in need to donate. “Donations are what help keep the mask making effort going, and we still welcome donations, even small ones, to support this effort,” she says. To donate, go to chloedao.com.

And even as Houston and the rest of our great state of Texas opens back up again, small business owners like Chloe Dao are hoping for the best while knowing that a full recovery will be a long time in the making. That’s why it’s so important for Houston to rally around our small businesses both now and always.

Eight years in New York. It was a smart, strategic move for aspiring fashion designer Chloe Dao, who had called Houston her home since she was a young child. And even though those eight years in New York took her far from home, they gave Chloe opportunities to learn from the best in the industry and hone the craft she loved.

Over her last two years in New York, Chloe began preparing for what would come next: opening her own small business, a fashion boutique. Her extensive retail and market research revealed to her that calling Houston home once again would be another smart, strategic move.

After she first opened her Rice Village boutique in 2000, Chloe’s designs were so well received that she had to double her small business’ space just four years later. In 2005, Chloe tried out for and was invited to be on the cast of reality TV show Project Runway, an opportunity that made her name truly known in the fashion world. She stunned the judges with her runway collection and was crowned the season two winner in 2006. Chloe was subsequently featured by Elle, Forbes, and CNN and has been a spokesperson for Barbie and Dove. She also provided collections for QVC for two years.

In the years since, Chloe has paid back much of her success to the community she has loved since some of her earliest memories, becoming an ardent philanthropist. In fact, philanthropy has played an integral role in her design and business philosophy, and Chloe routinely partners with charitable causes and organizations like the Salvation Army, Girl Scouts, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Think Pink. She’s also passionate about mentoring the next generation of designers and about surrounding herself with strong mentors, such as connections she made in the Rice MBA program, as well as Janet Gurwitch, founder of Laura Mercier Cosmetics.

“Janet is the one who told me to change the name of my business and boutique [from Lot 8, inspired by her eight siblings] to Dao Chloe Dao,” says Chloe. “Janet said the name in and of itself was the brand.”

Janet was right.

But no amount of mentoring could have helped Chloe – or any small business owner – anticipate a pandemic or navigate through the uncertainty it brought.

She did, however, anticipate that business closures would be necessary, so two days before the stay-at-home order took effect in Houston, Chloe made the difficult decision to close her boutique.

“It was quite emotional for me to close because my whole life is about this business,” Chloe recalls. “For 20 years, I had been working seven days a week – and then everything came to a standstill.”

But it wasn’t long before Chloe the philanthropist took center stage – and got busy.

“I was listening to NPR about how Taiwan was containing the pandemic and researching what I could do to help. And then it came to me. Everyone was talking about needing masks,” says Chloe.

So, the mighty force revved up her engines once again and began making masks, initially for the public and then first responders. As word got out about her mask donation, Chloe was stunned by how many people reached out to her about their own needs. Next she made masks to donate to those who greatly needed them but could not obtain them. With the help of generous donations, Chloe and her two assistants have now produced face masks by the thousands, distributing them to healthcare workers, homeless shelters, lower-income households, and those battling cancer in their households.

Needless to say, Chloe is back to working seven days a week. Turning again to extensive research, Chloe identified ideal characteristics for face masks, looking to design masks that were antibacterial, washable, water resistant, and breathable. In the end, Chloe designed four unisex styles and is producing them in a variety of sizes and colors for purchase in her boutique and online at her newly updated site, chloedao.com.

As communities and small businesses like hers start to open back up, Chloe knows that her future is to design the things that people need by truly connecting with her community and focusing on quality.

What you can do now:

Since reopening, Chloe contemplates how lucky she knows she has been, even now. “It’s been pleasantly surprising,” says Chloe of their first weeks back open.

Chloe encourages patrons to keep shopping local, emphasizing that her small business is limiting customers to just four at a time and taking many other precautions to keep shoppers safe, such as enacting strict cleaning procedures, requiring masks, and providing a hand sanitizing station and contactless payment technology. And for those who aren’t ready to venture out just yet, Chloe understands – and is keeping her website up to date with her latest collections and mask designs.

Chloe also asks those who are interested in helping her provide masks to those in need to donate. “Donations are what help keep the mask making effort going, and we still welcome donations, even small ones, to support this effort,” she says. To donate, go to chloedao.com.

And even as Houston and the rest of our great state of Texas opens back up again, small business owners like Chloe Dao are hoping for the best while knowing that a full recovery will be a long time in the making. That’s why it’s so important for Houston to rally around our small businesses both now and always.

©2020 HoustonRallies.com