Small businesses are truly what make Corpus Christi the shining star it is. Over the years, the community has fought hard to keep local mom-and-pops in business rather than bringing in big box stores — and often, in the eyes of newcomers or transient residents, it might raise the question of why. But when you consider a longstanding woman-owned, minority-owned, small business that has been a cornerstone of the community for decades, the goals for keeping the local landscape thriving become crystal clear.
Lott’s of Art by Evelyn Cooper is a contemporary African clothing, art, jewelry, furniture and accessories boutique that first opened its doors in October 1994. At that time, it was an art and gift gallery inside Sunrise Mall, where the specialty store gained notoriety for hosting community events centered around honoring African and Afrocentric cultures such as Indonesia, Morocco, India and others.
Lott’s of Art was the first gallery of its kind, serving as a resource for expanding visitors’ horizons to include a more global point of view. “She travels all over the world to get the items [for her shop],” longtime customer and supporter Wanda Perry said of owner Evelyn Cooper, “and there is always a program for the community honoring Black History Month and other holidays like Kwanzaa [because of this business].”
Perry is one of the many patrons who recognize the influence Lott’s of Art has had over the years, and why this business is a draw for everyone all around South Texas to experience the spirit of the store and of Cooper herself. “Cooper is also a musician and a director with a vision,” Perry added.
While it’s no secret that art and activism often go hand-in-hand, Lott’s of Art is no exception. From her gallery opening to the emboldened clothing, decor and accessories mecca that it is today, Cooper’s intention remains intact: creating an ever-evolving space for people to explore a diverse mix of lifestyle offerings influenced from around the world.
In its most recent chapter, Lott’s of Art opened in a new location at the beginning of the year. Every corner of the new space is filled with clothing, accessories, home décor and more, all in vibrant colors, patterns and textiles. “We encompass everything from wearables to textiles to home decor and more from around the globe,” explains Evelyn Lotts Cooper, owner of Lott’s of Art, “and we add diversity to the Corpus Christi community by making available unique items and designs for the body and home created by cultural groups worldwide.”
Much like her ambitions for her store, Cooper is a vision in and of herself. She is a walking, talking expression of “Art to Wear,” sporting her eclectic style all around Corpus Christi. Cooper is a shining example of how a community rooted in the arts and culture can, and will, transcend the test of time.