The Story of Fable

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Fable, Kansas City’s six-month-old Crossroads boutique, isn’t huge. There are three racks of clothing, one handsome wooden table, shelves jutting out from one wall and a one-stall dressing room. Tara Light, the shop’s owner, is also the sole attendant. When I stop by on a sunny, crisp afternoon, she greets me cheerily, her lips stained a bright orange-red. She’s wearing one of the ruffled, printed denim blouses that I notice folded prettily on that large table.

I paw hungrily through the Light’s delightfully curated collection as we chat about Fable. The hues are mostly grays and blues and creams – perfect for the fall-to-winter transition – and I am mightily distracted by the feel of modal, soft cottons and silks on my hands as I pick out dress after dress from the racks. Light, a designer herself (her line is called, simply, Tara Light), is delighted, and urges me to try on everything between answering my questions on how Fable got its start, her aesthetic and the movement she hopes to bring to Kansas City.

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What was your concept when you opened in April? How did you go about selecting the items in this shop?

I had a really hard time going into any shop in Kansas City and finding things that were unique and amazing and I couldn’t find anywhere else. I felt like everything always looked the same. It was always the same big-box brands, and yet I was still paying, like, $200, $300 or $400 dollars. So I wanted to open up a shop that had things that you couldn’t find in Kansas City, could hardly find online except from the designers themselves, and that were American made. If I was going to pay $200 dollars, I was going to know that it was ethically and mindfully manufactured. So that was my concept, my big thing.

And it’s actually hard to find designers who manufacture in the U.S. that are open to wholesaling. Of course you have like a ton of small, pop-up Etsy stuff or hemp yogi clothes, which is what I think a lot of people think of when they hear “ethical clothing,” but to actually find fashion-forward things, it’s hard to find beautiful, fashion-forward pieces made in the U.S.A.

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How did you end up tracking down the labels in here?

It was a lot of trolling the Internet. I would start on Etsy or Instagram and kind of go down rabbit holes. I would look at other people whose tastes I admired to see what they were looking at, and at what was happening in L.A. and New York where this trend – hopefully it’s not a trend – where this movement has already started. I wanted to bring that movement to Kansas City.

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Tell me about some of the brands that I’m seeing here.

This Feral Childe piece – [Light holds up a silk frock printed with delicate, colorful flowers] – this is a duo of designers that are incredibly well-educated, well-traveled women. One is a fine artist and one is a pattern maker, so one creates these great paintings or designs such as this, and sends it to the other one and she creates a garment such as this. They’re one of my favorite people in the shop. All of their things are so wearable. That was important to me in Fable. I wanted the pieces I carried to be really unique, but not like you would walk down the street and people would be like, “Oh my God, what is she wearing?”

This dress – [Light holds up a feather-soft, structural cotton gown] – this is Martha McQuade. She’s based in Minneapolis, she makes and dyes all this stuff herself. She doesn’t send it to a factory, she doesn’t have a team, it’s Martha making all her stuff. She’s an architecture professor by day and then she does all these really architectural, structural fabrics.

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Tell me about your background a little.

While I was in college studying English at UMKC – which kind of ties into Fable – I worked at Hemline, on the Plaza. Then I worked for Baldwin Standard Style. I was always kind of working in fashion, but I didn’t really see that it could be a lifestyle for me, a way that I could actually make my living. But then I started making a few things for myself when I was in college, and I applied to the West 18th Street Fashion Show and I got in, and I made my first collection and I kind of got to the point where I was taking on so many custom orders and selling out of my house and Etsy and whatnot, I decided it was time to open a storefront. It grew organically over the last few years.

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Tell me about the name Fable.

I really struggled to come up with a name. I wanted it in some way to speak for itself. I wanted it to have the essence of what the store was about. I love that Fable has a moral aspect to it, because obviously all of Aesop’s Fables were there to teach you a lesson, and in some small way, that’s what I want Fable to do. I want Fable to educate Kansas Citians and abroad about the importance of knowing where your clothes come from.

These are all clothes that have a slight quirky, whimsical bend to them. They’re all really feminine, but not girly. They’re smart, but they’re not intimidating. I always like to imagine that the women who wear the clothes at Fable are women who are voracious readers, they’re lovers of art, they’re lovers of culture.

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1515 Walnut Street, Suite 9, Kansas City, MO 64108.

Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 7 p.m. (816) 200 – 2662.

photography by Zach Bauman Instagram: @zachbphotography

Natalie Gallagher is the music editor at The Pitch Weekly. She was born in Texas, raised in Wisconsin, schooled in Minneapolis and currently holds it down in Kansas City, Missouri, where each day is a new flavor of barbecue.

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