I was struggling to figure out which session I should blog first, until I realized not many people know the faces behind the brand. We always get asked “What does the Ten23 stand for?” and I figured I’d explain the story of how this all came together.
We’re Robby & Gabe, a pair of creatives who have way too many things going on at the moment. I (Robby) just recently left my day job to work full time on our businesses. I am the lead photographer for Ten23 Photography and also handle the photography/marketing for our shop, Market 1023. Gabe is a PhD Candidate at Texas A&M University, so lots of dissertation writing and research, while managing our 85+ vendors in the shop. We started Market 1023 in 2015 when we moved in together. I was in my last semester of college and Gabe was in the middle of his PhD program. Over the summer, we put all of our mismatched furniture and home decor together to figure out what we were going to do in our new house. We started painting old furniture and building new pieces for our new place, which eventually led to friends asking for custom pieces. We sat down for dinner one evening and threw around some business name ideas and somehow came up with “Market 1023”, which was short for our October 23rd anniversary. We immediately started an Etsy shop and got some of our products online. We started with pillows, wreaths, signs, a dining table, a desk, and a few other “farmhouse-style” items.
Just a few months into the business, we set up at our first weekend vendor show. We had a tiny 10×10 space full of vintage finds and some of our handmade items. We learned a lot and realized we needed a store (a little premature if you ask us now). We had only been in business for 6 months at the time, so we pumped the breaks on our big dreams of owning our own shop.
That was until March of the following year when our landlord messaged us that the warehouse next to their office was holding a garage sale with lots of antiques. I went that afternoon and stayed for about 3 hours just chatting with the owners. We came back together the next day to get the things we had our eyes on, when Dowanna said we really needed to move into the space they had next door. We went and took a peek, to find a large dark room that was currently being used as storage. Any normal person would have run out immediately, but we stopped to take it all in and saw the potential behind the mess. We contemplated it for a few months and officially accepted it in May. We had to completely renovate the entire space to get it in working condition, so we got right on it for a July 1st opening date. It was one of the hardest few months, because there was no AC in the space and it was the middle of the summer in Texas — enough said.
After so many sleepless nights, we met our July 1st open date. We were only open Thursday – Sunday since we both had full time commitments and didn’t have staff to help watch the store.
About 3 months later, we walk into Emily’s Jims on Main Street in downtown and chat with our friend Emily who owned the shop at the time. She told us she was thinking about retiring at the end of the year, and if she decided to, she wanted to offer her space to us. We were conflicted because we had just put some much time and money into fixing up our current space, so it made it hard to agree to leave it just a few months after opening. However, this new space was what we had dreamed of. Floor to ceiling windows, white walls, concrete floors, and about 3 times as much space — oh and it is in the perfect location on main street. We talked through it and decided we had to take the opportunity or someone else would.
We got the keys on New Year’s Eve and got right to work. While everyone else was out bringing in the new year, we were patching holes and painting the space. We had a much tighter deadline of January 6th — the first First Friday of the year. Our good friend Nicole was there everyday with us helping us put up displays and flipping the entire space. We now had two spaces, one for our own merchandise and another space for local vendors to setup permanent booths. We worked until the very last minute, but opened the doors right on time for First Friday. We remember it like it was yesterday — cold, rainy, dark. We were terrified for the turnout, but ended up with a successful first night.
Ever since then, we’ve been at our space on Main Street and have loved every minute of it. The store has changed so much during the last few years. We phased out of antiques and furniture to incorporate more handmade goods by small businesses in Texas and across the country. We also added a small plant shop/planting station for our plant loving customers.
During this time, Ten23 Photography was born. We met Jaelynn with Urban Rubbish and Heather with Vestige Rentals and started doing mini styled shoots to build our portfolios. We booked our first two weddings in March of 2018 and were ecstatic about getting the opportunity to finally put all of our training to work. Since then, we’ve been able to book 15 weddings within our first year of business. We’ve had the pleasure to be featured in a few awesome publications as well. We’re so excited for what the future holds as we continue to grow our businesses.
Holy moley!!! I already respected the heck out of you two, but now it’s multiplied tenfold (ten23fold! Lol) after reading about how much you’ve accomplished in such a short time! I mean, wow. If you can open a store in 6 days (while you both have other commitments), I feel like I have no excuses anymore. You’re an inspiration!!!