The varied career of Melissa Ellis is a tour de force. She is a jack-of-many-trades. An artist. A fashion and jewelry designer. An accomplished retail entrepreneur. Her new Round Top gallery opened at 102 Schumann Lane in Henkel Square last October. It features many of her passions in one place.

This colorful Melissa Ellis Fine Art Gallery carries artwork by the artist herself, as well as seven other artists, her jewelry line M.U.S.E Collective, her popular and ever-expanding Tutu and Lilli clothing line, and other home goods. For this serial entrepreneur, it is really a question of finding a need and filling it.  

“I’ve been in Round Top for three years now,” Melissa Ellis tells “I was a fine art major. When we moved to Round Top, there was another gallery here, but it has since closed. I now have a gallery space of my own to work in. And I needed a place to show my work.

“Then when this fantastic location became available, I had enough room to invite a few friends to show their works as well.”

Melissa invited friends and artists to show their work in her Round Top gallery. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Melissa invited friends and artists to show their work in her Round Top gallery. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Along with Ellis’ own original works, which she describes as “contemporary abstract, bold, simple, floral and folk art imagery,” you’ll find art from Houston’s Greer Dexter, Cathy K. Brown and Robert Ross; Brenham’s Ray Hadaway and Meredith Hadaway; and Carmine’s Michael Golden. Also on display are works from David Alpha of Lafayette, Louisiana and Barbara Teeslink of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Of course, this is a gallery where the art is only the beginning.

“When I was retiring from a 25 year career with my children’s clothing line (Mis-Tee-V-Us), my sister (Shelley Ulm) and I launched our jewelry line, M.U.S.E Collective, about five years ago,” Ellis says. “It’s a collection of contemporary jewelry from oxidized sterling, pearls and precious stone to 14-karat gold designs.”

Melissa Ellis Fine Art has many items by M.U.S.E Collective on view. The full range from moonstones and labradorites to bracelets, pendants and necklaces is also available online.

Flowy and feminine tops in a rainbow of colors mark Melissa Ellis’ clothing line. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Ellis’ flowy and feminine Tutu & Lilli clothing line soon followed. “It just evolved. We needed something we could wear to show the jewelry on,” Ellis says.

Now the line, which includes many styles of solid colored tops, most with a silky sheen and carefree style, is arranged like a kaleidoscope across the back walls of her Round Top gallery. From muted and subtle tones to yummy sorbet hues.

There is also a separate retail shop in Round Top. By the time the fall show rolls around next October, Tutu and Lilli will be moved into larger digs in the Marfa-esque casitas known as the Round Top Village, joining other creatives such as Houston’s Courtney Barton and Richard Schmidt Jewelry.  

Ellis describes her eminently collectible Tutu and Lilli line as “elegant yet simple tops and dresses. They are all washable and simply drip dry. So they are easy to both wear and pack. Every season, we add new styles. This year our newest addition are linen beach pants.”

Melissa Ellis is a tour de force to be reckoned with. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Both the M.U.S.E Collective and Tutu and Lilli brands are all made in Houston, which is quite a feat in the manufacturing world. It is something Ellis is very proud of.

Cheese and a Equally Prolific Husband

Never one to be satisfied — or to rest — Melissa Ellis also opened the Little Cheese Shop in Henkel Square, along with business partner Wimberly Tribble. The European style fromagerie is filled with imports and local selections, as well as everything you’ll need to slap an exemplary charcuterie plate together, right down to the perfect bottle of wine.

Ellis’ husband has got his own things going on too. Lee Ellis runs both the quirky and spectacular watering hole known as Ellis Motel, and Round Top Smokehouse.

But it’s Melissa Ellis Fine Arts Gallery that should be on any Round Top visitor’s must-hit list. Its hours are Wednesdays from 12 pm to 4 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm.

It’s a true Round Top original — just waiting for you. With a lot of everything.