A customer is bound to notice two things upon entering Byzantine Clothing. For one, it has a unique comfortable decor, complete with cozy chairs, a toy box for children and spacious shopping area. And then there’s Jasper.

No, he’s not a fashion guru waiting to assemble your fall attire but rather an extremely friendly seven-month-old, white cockapoo pup, who loves to greet customers.

Of course, the Jasper element alone makes Byzantine somewhat unique from the other boutiques in town, but owner and Lakewood resident Victoria Jackson would prefer it be recognized for its choice fashions and superior service.

“Our service separates us from most other stores,” she says. “We really spend a lot of time putting wardrobes together and things like that. We shop all the markets, so we find things that are really unique. A lot of people come in and say that they’re able to find things in here that they can’t find anywhere else. We also have an amazing selection of jewelry that’s really fresh and different.”

The name of the store resulted from a trip to Greece Jackson took shortly before opening. Her original clothing line was largely “romantic,” and touches of the Byzantine Empire are still evident in the décor. Going back in time even farther, Jackson attributes her love of clothing to her mother, who she says was “an incredible seamstress.”

“She used to make my clothes — and name them,” Jackson laughs. “I had a dress with pink Dutch boys and girls on the bottom and that was the ‘Dutch Doll Dress.’ I always had a Christmas Dress, which was velvet. Once she made a dress out of this beige fabric with brown squiggles, with a vest, which she said was my ‘Gettysburg Address.’” That was all well and good until the day at school when the teacher asked the class … you guessed it. Jackson raised her hand in excitement and said, “Yes! I have one. I can wear it tomorrow.”

An avid shopper herself, Jackson found her way to Dallas from Atlanta, Ga. Prior to Byzantine, she worked both retail and wholesale, lastly as regional supervisor for Joan and David. Now, even as the proprietor of her own boutique, she still gets to do a lot of shopping. This time, however, it’s all part of a day’s work.

“I get to shop for a lot of different things,” she says. “The only thing is, we don’t have shoes and I’m still a big shoe shopper. But shopping for the store is the ultimate because you get to shop for what you believe in and what you really love.”

Aside from shopping, Jackson stays on top of trends in fashion, jewelry and accessories. Perhaps it doesn’t sound like a laborious task, but there’s quite a bit of work and research involved.

“I always study the trade publications and fashion magazines,” she says. “Whenever they’re doing runway previews of designers, I watch to see what’s going on. I also go to Europe occasionally because a lot of trends start there. I shop all the markets. Dallas, New York, L.A.” At market, Jackson even shops for specific items for specific customers.

Of course, the research and purchasing of goods is merely a small part of her regular tasks. The real challenge comes in-person at Byzantine. Along with a crack staff, Jackson’s usually on hand to lend her expertise to patrons trying to coordinate a wardrobe. Of all her duties, this is perhaps the most vital.

“This is how I see what my customers are looking for and what their needs are,” Jackson explains. “If I spent too much time off the floor and in the office, I couldn’t get this information.”

Outside of Byzantine, Jackson enjoys making the short drive from Inwood Village to her home in Lakewood where she resides with husband, Chris Crew. (“I love older neighborhoods,” she says.)

As for the future of her store, Jackson is finalizing plans for additional locations in the metroplex (although she cannot divulge actual sites at this point) and is working on a website that would allow on-line customers to shop from their computers.

Things are looking fairly bright for Jackson and Byzantine. The best part is, she’s working a dream job and doesn’t deny it. Of course, there are the long hours on the store floor as well as in the administrative office. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Some days I feel like a genius and some days I feel like a total idiot,” she laughs. “When things are going well, I feel like I’m doing something incredible. There are times when I buy something and it comes in and it’s all wrong. Retail has its ups and downs, but it’s really a fun business. It changes all the time —you can never stand still.”

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