10 Minutes with Autumn Clayton

The owner of Covet boutique talks chilled wine, The Cure and why vintage clothing is just not her thing.

Autumn Clayton. Photo by Jody McKitrick.

She’s unshakably confident, wickedly funny and has no time for B.S.

She’s Autumn Clayton, owner of gotta-buy-everything-in-the-store-now Arlington boutique Covet.

In our first in a series of micro chats with local folks you should know, we sat down with the McLean resident, 48, to find out her likes, loves and “ehs.”

The mom of two grew up in a Navy family, moving to spots around the country (California, Rhode Island) and the world (Japan) before ultimately settling in Virginia. In 1991, after studying at Virginia Commonwealth University, Clayton decided to dip her surely well-polished toe in the world of retail, taking a job at a small shop in Old Town Alexandria that led to a role as art director for an Egyptian import company. She opened Covet in 2010 when a friend, local artist Sabrina Cabada, stumbled on a vacant insurance office on Wilson Boulevard with cheap overhead. At the time, Clayton had two young children at home and wasn’t working.

“We just were like, ‘OK, we’ll just try it for one year.’ So we signed the lease—I didn’t even tell my husband.”

Today, Clayton is the sole owner of the shop, now approaching its 10th anniversary. Being the good sport she is, she let us steal 10 minutes of her time to pepper her with rapid-fire questions.

Go-to dinner spots: Esaan Tumbar (McLean) and Baba (Clarendon)

Favorite coffee shop: Village Sweet (Westover)

Where you’d buy jewelry if not your store: Etsy. Honestly, I don’t wear a whole lot of jewelry, which is super weird. You look at me—I have hoop earrings and really tiny, thin rings on.

Clothes—new or consignment? New. I wish I could do that whole consignment/vintagy thing. I just feel like my frame is really hard to fit; it takes me a long time to find what I’m looking for. I really don’t like going shopping.

Rules of accessorizing: I don’t like to wear earrings and a necklace; I wear one or the other. I like to mix metals and black and brown together.

Favorite in-store item: Stained-glass feathers made by Colin Adrian from Portland, Oregon

Clayton with her kids, Jackson (left) and Charlie. Photo by Jody McKitrick.

Beer, wine or something harder? I’m a big wine drinker. I do like a chilled glass of red wine.

Idea of date night: My husband, Kevin, and I are season-ticket holders for the Nats, so it’s going down to the waterfront, going to The Salt Line for dinner and then going to the ballpark.

Currently reading: Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock

Currently consuming these podcasts: Terrible, Thanks for Asking; The Daily; Casefile

Inspirational quotes—love ’em or hate ’em? Hate them.

Jewelry by local designer Meagan Kurtz (ADMK) at Covet. Photo by Jody McKitrick.

Candles—scented or unscented? Scented: Sydney Hale

Workout playlist: New Order, The Cure, anything ’80s alternative

What you wish you’d see more of: Small retail stores—it’s so hard in Arlington.

Funniest TV show in history: Parks and Recreation

What you love about Arlington: How liberal it is—I get to live in my liberal bubble here and have certain things in my store and not worry about it.

Categories: People