Texie and Ashley Leibe were born 18 months apart at the same hospital in Clearwater, Florida. They grew up in the same household with the same loving parents, and their lives essentially ran parallel. Yet, like so many siblings, their roads branched as they grew older; giving credence to the philosophy that child rearing is more about nature than it is nurture. Ashley found a love for the outdoors and began working on a farm in Ocala, while Texie opened a high-end fashion boutique in 5 Points, Riverside. The two women have formed a business partnership based on following their passions and the transcendent bond of sisterhood.
Their story truly begins with exceptional parents that nurtured their daughters’ natures. Their father instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in both of them, as a mechanical engineer that dabbled in inventing. They both describe their mother as being “dynamic” and “tough as nails.” She was an equestrian, but raising her daughters right was her top priority.
“Texie was more with our mother when we were growing up, and I hung out more with our father, who was very into the outdoors and being handy,” says Ashely.
Texie found a passion for fashion at a young age. “When I was younger I was always up to date with trends; I was always sporting a skirt and embracing my femininity. And when I grew up, I just knew that I wanted fashion to be part of my lifestyle,” Texie says.
Opening her boutique in 2006, Violet, allows Texie to keep fashion at the forefront of her life in Jacksonville. Violet is a store with a rich bohemian atmosphere of captivating scents and a collection of apparel with an eye for craftsmanship and style. The shop also sells a variety of bath and spa products, including Long Hammock Organics, created by her sister Ashley using milk and honey from her small sustainable goat farm and apiaries in Summerfield, FL.
Ashley started her farm in 2003. She began with horses, but now she primarily works with goats, chickens and bees. She began making soaps for fun, and it was her sister’s idea to turn it into a business. Ashley harvests the goat milk and beeswax, and also cures all of the soaps and lotions, as well. Her soap is unique because it’s made with 100 percent goat’s milk, and her body lotion is made from beeswax from her own bee hives.
“Goat’s milk is a superfood and it’s very hydrating and nutritious for your skin,” Ashley says. She doesn’t cut the goat’s milk in her soap at all to cheapen the product, as many in the trade do. She believes in keeping it pure. And she operates her business with a model of sustainability in accordance with the cycles and ebb and flow of nature.
Despite some of their obvious differences, there are a lot of threads that tie these two together, especially their common love and respect for animals. Even though Texie doesn’t live on a farm, she has two dogs and a cat that all play a huge role in her life, and she loves to visit with her sister’s goats.
“I think that because our parents had us grow up around so many pets and animals that it taught us both compassion and responsibility that we each carried over into our businesses.” Ashley says.
Another bond the sister’s share is the love of tackling challenges and following their passions.
“We just naturally have this gall to go out there and do something out of the box. We both work day and night, but we love what we do,” says Ashley.
One of the most difficult challenges the Leibe sisters face is educating their clientele on the differences of quality manufacturing and the importance of supporting local entrepreneurs.
“Sometimes it’s tough, because it takes time to educate some of my clients about what the difference between quality products is. Ashley’s soaps are unique, because they provide so many nutritional benefits to your skin, which some people don’t quite comprehend at first,” Texie says.
This problem also applies to the clothes Violet carries: all of the clothing is American made, a good portion of it is locally made and everything in the shop is created with a certain level of quality and craftsmanship. These are certain details that don’t always translate immediately, though.
The Leibe sisters’ are paragons of operating strong, good intentioned, local businesses and doing things the right way with production and labor. And their dedication to quality shows in their work.
“Our family values taught us to not take shortcuts and to operate our businesses with morality and hard work,” Ashley says. “And that’s not the norm these days, but it’s what we both believe in. We both take pride in what we do.”