Shopkeep: Leslie Hernandez, ARO, Austin

August 17, 2016 BY WATM STAFF


What started as an online shop two years ago has morphed its way into a full-fledged brick-and-mortar boutique in Austin. ARO, named for the Aro River in Venezuela—owner Leslie Hernandez is of Venezuelan descent—focuses on up-and-coming designers and a mix of jewelry, apparel, shoes, knitwear, and more.


8486d586603f90e9b060f8df4952c0d7f86709f1With a background in digital marketing, public relations, and e-commerce, Leslie first opened ARO as an online shopping destination for many of the jewelry designers she had been working with in New York. After going from online shop to pop-up shop, she opened her first permanent retail location in the oh-so-hot East Austin area just last month. “Over the past 10-15 years, Austin has grown and changed like crazy,” said Leslie. “Although I grew up here, when I came back I felt like I didn't know where I was anymore, so it took me a little time to find the right spot.”


Some of ARO’s most covetable lines right now include Lila Rice, Tuza, and Laura Lombardi. Leslie’s mix of unique and eclectic goods sits perfectly in her eclectic and unique neighborhood. “East Austin is one of the only walkable areas in town and it's easily accessible from downtown with a mix of locals and tourists. It's also become a hub for artists, creatives, and new Austinites. I feel like ARO falls into all of the above and that just felt right to me.”


906 E. 5th St.


Her neighborhood go-to spots:


Definitely a contender for my favorite restaurant in the area. I recommend this restaurant to everyone! It's not only delicious, but the interiors are beautiful.

2115 Holly St

Casa Colombia

Whenever I'm in the mood for home cooked-style food, I go here and get the plantain soup. And I don't care what time of day it is, the passion fruit frozen mimosa is a must.

2409 E 7th St

Brew & Brew / Byron + Blue

I'm a few doors down from Brew + Brew, so it's my go-to for coffee and a beer after work. While I'm there I always pop into Byron + Blue to check out their latest merchandise and visit with the owner, Alexia. Last time I was in, I scored up a lavender colored Mexican blanket. She has rad resident artists and Will Bryant is exhibiting this month, so I'll probably make an excuse to go over at least twice a day.

500 San Marcos St.

Passport Vintage

I'm too lucky to share our store-front with Passport Vintage. It’s on our second floor and owners, Maria + Ryan have the best selection of vintage denim and tees. I basically wear only vintage Levi's, so it's easy for me to spend all my extra cash in their store. Plus, Maria takes your measurements and finds you the perfect pair so you don't waste time trying jeans that are not for you.

906 E. 5th St.