Kimberly Neal and Theresa Lambert didn't know they grew up on the same Tucson street until they met as adults.
It turned out they had even more in common than a childhood setting. Both ran their own business.
Neal, transitioning out of a 15-year career at Raytheon, owned a floral and design business. And Lambert, also a floral artist, worked with her father upcycling found objects, selling furniture and designing events. That business — Eastland Alley — was named for the street where she grew up.
They decided to do something together and joined forces in 2016.
On Thursday, Lambert and Neal opened their lifestyle boutique and floral shop Eastland Alley Co. on Fourth Avenue.
The shop, located at 440 N. Fourth Avenue between Caruso's and Creations, features products primarily by Arizona-based makers and serves as a headquarters for the floral and event design portion of the business with space for both flower arrangements and decor rentals. You can book Eastland Alley Co. to do both for your wedding, corporate gala or other large event.
"Eastland Alley as a whole is a design hub," Neal says. "We will focus on design for your event, for your life or with apparel."
Inside the boutique, you'll find Tucson-themed T-shirts, candles with Arizona-specific scents, leather bags and journals and sweet plushies for kids. They also have an in-house screen printer.
"We want to serve as a platform for emerging artists and to stay Arizona-based and heavy on Tucson products," Lambert says, adding that product displays include "Meet the Maker" features. Neal says prices range between $12 and $140.
The company has evolved over the years since the women came together. Until recently, they operated out of a warehouse on St. Mary's Road, opening a boutique just four days a month to correspond with Gather A Vintage Market, another place where they at one time set up shop.
"We had three sources of revenue: Floral for events and galas, staging and styling for homes and the monthly market boutique, which was just four days out of the month," Neal says.
The move to Fourth Avenue gave them the chance to streamline their business and drop staging to focus more on events and retail.
"To be honest, we were both in love with the boutique," Neal says. "We both came from floral and knew that really well, but what has evolved and stuck with us that can represent both of us is the boutique."
Lambert and Neal own the business, but they point out that it's really a family affair. Their husbands and parents help out. Lambert's father does the business' woodwork and Neal's does the calligraphy and art. Both women are mothers. Neal has a 3- and 1-year-old, and Lambert's two kids are teens.
Lambert says they plan to change the design of the boutique seasonally. This season's theme is Moving into Spring — evidenced by the stacks of vintage suitcases and trunks artfully arranged around the shop. It's a fun way to demonstrate to clients how making just a few tweaks can completely redesign a space, she adds.
"We want our customers to feel completely taken care of," Lambert says. "Whether that is at their event or through something we are adding to their home ... If we offer it, we want it to be something that uplifts and makes you feel good."