Written by Gail G. Collins

“Stuff means nothing, unless you share it with somebody,” said Shaina Corzine. The successful, self-taught antiques dealers certainly knows a thing or ten about valuable stuff and invaluable people. Owner of La Belle Vie in historic downtown New Braunfels since 2011 and Red Stag since 2012, she started small, but executes a vision that grows grander with the years.

“You need passion and determination … start with what you do have, do the best you can, buy the best you can afford and grow it from there,” she said. Though Corzine studied marketing at Baylor, she reveled in her two interior designer roommates’ homework. With a job in the corporate world relocating doctors to small towns, it was an easy leap to decorating their homes on the side. Other professional work returned her to interior design and beautiful things.

Corzine built her antique business from nothing. She began by downsizing her home furnishings with a driveway sale, and the love of old, wonderful furniture propelled her. Buying from dealers, markets and fairs, she invested sweat equity that drew attention in Round Top, where a gentleman offered to show her the ropes of international importing. She happily paid him a fee, met the pro in Europe and learned the trade and area while receiving introductions to vendors. Soon after, Corzine traveled there several times a year, exporting goods and holding flash warehouse sales in the U.S. to supply dealers and stores. A shop of her own was an inevitability.

La Belle Vie means “the beautiful life,” and the shop is filled with antiques from France and Belgium, European home goods and American-made custom upholstered furniture, accessories, fine linens and gifts. Corzine bought a building next and opened Red Stag with similar aims, relocating its sister store nearby. Both hold an endless list of unique finds:  rustic leather journals, salt glazed pottery, cast iron dogs, apothecary, handmade jewelry and so on. She proudly buys from local artisans and works with charity focused vendors. And Corzine impresses on clients, “There is a story, person or purpose behind every product we offer.”

Lux Design Studio services were a natural addition. “We can decorate your home … turn shutters into a headboard, hang a custom door … nothing is too big or too small,” said Corzine. Even the gift lines are artisan driven. Commercial projects, like boutique hotels or a senior living center, within Texas or out of state, have benefitted from her expertise, whether the style is industrial, contemporary or traditional.

Still, her personal love is Old French style with texture. And pieces need not be pristine. “I believe, we should embrace imperfection … some wear and tear and a durability that stands the test of time—100, 200, 300 years—that’s remarkable!” It is this repurposing and giving new, productive life to objects that animates Corzine. Homes are a sanctuary, a reflection of the owners, and should be livable.

Corzine’s latest expansion effort is The Barn. The enormous building is reclaimed wood from a Pennsylvania horse barn with mid-1800s iron work, like massive gates set in place with hydraulics and patience. She is accustomed to hearing, “You can’t do it—it’s too hard,” but she believes in slowing down and taking the time to do whatever it takes.

The Barn is not competing or duplicating shops in town, but creating a retreat, which will include cottages, a chapel and an outdoor venue at completion in three to five years. “You don’t have to get on a plane for 12 hours to go Europe,” she said, “You can go down 2722 and be on 22 acres that feel like Europe—that’s the long term goal.”

A mix of formal French, ironworks, heavily-carved painted wood, a museum-sized collection of paintings, and more reflects character and age, pulling from dealers and markets along the French Riviera to Paris and points in between. More items came from Belgium, a bit from Holland and Germany, plus pieces from Spain, where vendors have second homes, to stock an eclectic, extravagant showroom.

Privileged relationships with craftsmen for restoration, upholstery, installation and so on, multiply the shops’ talents. Corzine is complimentary to a vast array of skilled artisans for their cabinetry, tiling, painting, carving and other painstaking labors, praising their authentic aptitudes and abilities. This even includes a staircase built by her son and his friend, who were fresh out of welding school.

Corzine consistently credits the collaboration of competent, resident artisans for their labors of love. “Curation, not only of beautiful objects, but of history and people and places—that’s meaningful in life.”