After Alta Alexander woke up to a nightmare, her community stepped in to help her rebuild Altatudes.
By Courtney Runn, Photos by Alta Alexander
In the early hours of June 1, Alta Alexander woke up to a nightmare. She received a phone call around 3:30 a.m. that the barbershop adjacent to her boutique was on fire. She rushed to her store to find everything inside a total loss. Her clothes, accessories and furniture were covered in a fine layer of soot, ruined by smoke and water damage. Alexander says the Austin Fire Department is still investigating the incident but reported it as an electrical fire.
“Every morning I wake up and think, ‘This isn’t real,” Alexander says. “Every single morning, I’m like, ‘Please, no. Let it be some bad dream.’ But it’s real and I suck it up and keep moving.”
Alexander opened her boutique, Altatudes, in 2017 as “the first Black-owned upscale womenswear boutique in Austin.” In the wake of the fire, Austinites rallied to support her and a GoFundMe quickly circulated to support her and Kane’s Barbershop, raising more than $70,000 that will be equally split between the two businesses. With their joint fundraising page set to end soon, Alexander launched a personal GoFundMe to keep raising money since she says the joint fundraiser and potential insurance money won’t be enough to re-open.
On June 7, Alexander’s fellow members of the local Links chapter gathered at Altatudes to spend the afternoon taking stock of inventory for insurance. She says the support from her friends and the Austin community at large feels “like a big hug.”
“It’s going to be Monday tomorrow and we’re going to start right back up,” she says. “We’re going to start right back up.”