By Gene Menez | Photo by Jessica Attie for Austin Monthly Magazine
The impact that Donna Stockton Hicks and Priscilla Laffey have had on home design in Austin goes well beyond fabrics and wallpaper and furniture and accessories and lighting and hardware and, well, everything else they carry in their 15,000-square-foot trade showroom. Friends for more than 25 years and business partners for 16, Stockton Hicks and Laffey are responsible for starting Back Door to the Trade, Austin’s closest version to a design center, in 2001.
“It was just ridiculous that I had to drive to Dallas to buy fabric,” recalls Stockton Hicks of the local fabric scene in the 1990s. So in ’98 they took over a tiny showroom, Showplace of Design. Three years later they renamed it Stockton Hicks Laffey (the former name led to many unintentional calls from people trying to reach the former gentlemen’s club Show Palace), convinced other like-minded business owners to join them (including Sandy Sieracki at Best Decorative Accessories winner Objets) and opened Back Door to the Trade.
After 11 years there, Stockton Hicks Laffey has become the go-to place for the city’s interior designers for their fabric and wallpaper needs. It offers 36 lines in textiles and trim and another 23 in wall coverings and carries so many fabric samples that it employs three full-timers just to file and keep track of them.
What has been the secret to the success? Service, selection and, says Stockton Hicks, being “at the right place at the right time.”