AUSTIN, Texas - Two businesses in East Austin were burned early Monday morning. Kane’s Barbershop and Altatudes, a high-end boutique, caught fire causing extensive fire, smoke, and water damage.
It’s unclear if the fire was intentionally set. The owners say the Austin Fire Department is still investigating.
For Alta Y. Alexander, owning her own store has been a dream come true.
In the heart of historic East Austin, her boutique called Altatudes has several meanings.
"You can do 'attitude' or 'altitude' like the trajectory going upward. Altatudes is the first African-American upscale women's boutique in Austin, first and only at this juncture."
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The Huston-Tillotson graduate says returning to East Austin to start her own business that’s been running for two years has kept Altatudes thriving.
"I have very unique pieces I'm very proud of."
Right next door is Kane’s Barbershop owned by Alexander’s business neighbor Stephen Bass-Kane.
He called Alexander at 3:30 Monday morning with some devastating news.
“Initially I was told someone had broken into Kane's then later I think there was some confusion. My camera didn't show anything nefarious, my business sustained heavy heavy smoke when I got to Altatudes I couldn't even see inside my business it was completely smoked out, it was so big.”
Alexander says there’s a common door that connects Altatudes to Kane’s Barbershop, where the fire started.
“Everything on his side it’s just gone.”
She adds, “everything is totaled and damaged on my side which is a total loss. Right in the middle of a pandemic.”
She adds, “Later they brought a dog out to find if there was any accelerant. They did find that there was something going on potentially something going on electrical work. So I don't know if it was a chance in this particular climate or if it was someone actually someone that was doing something evil. We don't know yet and once they do an investigation we will know for sure.”
Alexander says either way, it hurts.
“I was completely hysterical the whole time I drove from Leander to Austin. This business has really been a work of love and I really poured my heart and soul into this business. I was devastated. I never felt like that before. I never shook to the point where I couldn't open a door with my key. The firemen had to open my door. I couldn't even do it, I couldn't do it. It was pretty traumatizing to me.”
Alexander says the silver lining is the same community she loves so much is the same one pouring back into her. Friends and neighbors started a Go Fund Me page for Alta Alexander and Stephen Bass-Kane to help with recovery efforts.
They plan to split the total amount donated.
“The care and love I received has been tremendous and I'm not surprised because it's been happening since day one.”