Okay, So people actually listen and read my blog. I asked you guys what you wanted to know about owning a boutique and what its like to work for yourself….I am laughing in my head right now because it is so hard to explain what its like to own a business until you do it!
What is it like owning a store and managing everything yourself? Hmmm okay well…Its like everything is on fire and you’re trying to smile and use your customer service voice while taming a lion. Im kidding but I’m not. Owning a business and managing everything yourself is very hard. Which is why I am so thankful that I can afford to hire help with the store. I ran the storefront, online and truck 100% by myself for the first 3 months and I was the crankiest bitch on the planet and it was the holiday times! #MerryChristmas 😂 Having a store manager and someone that I trust has taken so much off of my plate. BUT maybe you don’t have a store and you’re at home going bananas. FIND HELP, someone to unpack boxes once a week is nice.
How did you start your boutique? I will direct you to this blog which is long and in depth on how I stated. Again, my story is different than most so I cannot tell you how much money invest or anything like that. Start small, what if you hate it? Its a lot more than selling clothes.
How long was it until you turned a profit? Well hopefully you read my blog on how I started because this won’t make sense. But I didn’t even have a credit card or separate accounts for the store until the end of 2016. SO technically I can’t say BUT there is this weird thing that happens when you own a business. Since we buy clothing all day long, you get in this weird buying mode and you want to buy everything. Make $100? hmm lets get all new pink pens, and then everyone can write in cute pink ink….NO. All of this cuts into your profit. So naturally, I like to spend money. And up until 2017, I didn’t truly know on paper if I was making money. But my answer is yes, I was making money right away. I was feeding myself in college and putting gas in my car to travel around even if it was one bank account.
What is a profit and how much should you make? LOL well I wish I knew, kidding, Profit is the difference between what you sold and what you spent. That the most basic way to put it. But you also have to factor In COGS and time spent selling right? Time is money and if its taking you 50 hours to sell one sweater for $30, did you make any money if you are paid $10 an hour? No. It’s a lot more complex than that. It also depends on each business, running an online store out of your home takes a lot less than running a full on storefront with employees.
How do you choose the items you sell? I personally buy items that I like. I started my store because I love clothes and I want to serve women like myself. The items you buy/sell should be for your target customer. Whoever he/she is. What does she wear? Where is she going? Whats her income? Where does she work? All of those things have to be taken into consideration. We have an “everyday” style. We have dresses and blouses but we have sweats and t-shirts too. We cater to our teachers with a classic skinny jean but we also serve out college girls with distressed jeans and comfy tops for class.
How do you price your items? Hmm how do I answer this one. Well every business is different and without getting too technical, you want to maximize your profit so you can grow but I’m also not comfortable ripping people off. We have a formula we use on each item and individual categories.
How much inventory do you buy? Good question, if you have the answer let me know. I don’t have a good answer for this really. We are either overstocked or understocked. It just depends on the season, how quickly you sell through things, when you plan to launch it. There is no magic answer. In one top, we will buy 24 of them and another item we might get 6. You have NO guarantee it’s going to sell.
Where do you buy your clothing? There are several trade shows that happen all across the US or you can travel to LA.
Will you expand into plus size? Yes and no. We have carried plus size on and off for 3.5 years and it does not sell for us. Which honestly, I hate this answer because I sound so annoying but it’s actually not making us money and we lose money. To buy a style and only sell one of the item and have the others sit in the rack is very defeating. Remember what I said above about spending 50 hours to sell an item? As of right now, we are not focusing on plus size arrivals BUT we do have a lot of brands that carry XL (they usually sell out in store before you see them) and we have a lot of brands that run generous.
How do you grow social media? Well it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, patience and a genuine connection with customers. Guys, I have TRAVELED the country for 3.5 years and we just hit 10K on IG. It takes A LOT of time. People want to follow YOU, thats why I share my dog on IG and what I ate for dinner, people care! Put on your own reality TV show. DO NOT try and copy a big boutique you follow, people will see right through it. But also, every single platform is different. What works on FB does not work on IG. Our facebook converts more sales that IG and there is a 7k follower difference. So numbers are not everything, engagement matters and have fun. And lastly, show up everyday. Bad day? Say it. Website down? Say it. Your store is leaking water and you cant open today? Say it. The more you show up and put yourself out there, the more the “algorithm” will work in your favor. But don’t get me started on ads and the cost of that…
Is it hard to pay yourself instead of putting money back into the business? This is, hands down my most difficult decision. So when you own a business that is constantly growing, you will ALWAYS need new things. New printers then you need ink. More inventory equals more hangers and more racks. You will always need new things OR you start making money and you get these dumb ideas like “should we get gold staples” 😂🙈 Its so hard you guys. So yes the answer is yes. This is not a get rich quick type of job, really it isn’t. I know I have girls that watch me and think “wow she has a nice house and this growing store” correct, I do. But I also have a Louis Vuitton bag that was a gift, I did not buy that. I also have cute clothes because I own a store, I don’t go shopping. There are so many sacrifices you make owning a business and I would say the two that come to mind are time and money.
I COULD take a fat check every month and go buy designer bags, but where is that going to get me and my team? No where. Reinvesting money into your business is how you continue to grow. Sure, I could have stayed in my house and slept until noon, packed orders when I wanted and racked in the cash BUT I could not sell the volume we sell today, I couldn’t park the fashion truck at my house and so many other restrictions. So yes, I choose to put money back into the store than pay myself a lot of money and go to Disney world. Having an office in the warehouse and giving my girls a fridge and a coffee pot in the back room was more important than a new wallet. Im getting by with what I need for now, the rest can wait. Louis Vuitton isn’t going anywhere.
Do you have Sezzle or Afterpay? Currently we don’t but we do plan to add it. When we do add it, I’m not sure if it will help us or hurt us. Being honest. 🤷🏻♀️
What do you need to set up your boutique legally? Your business needs to be registered with the state and federal government. You need an EIN number which is basically the social security number for your business to buy product wholesale. Every state is different but you need a sellers permit to a resales license to make everything legal. You can google that, I’m not legally permitted to give any of this info TBH
How do you get rid of inventory that isn’t selling? LOL girl, you tell me. Idk. Mark it down, do a flash sale, free gift with purchase. There is no secret way to get rid of it. Just try your best to sell something,
Whew okay, hopefully that was helpful to someone. This is truly a hard ass job. There is NO manual. There is NO help. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, I have plenty of girls I talk to on the regular to see what is working for them and what they are up too but every business runs differently. Rent, laws, customers and taxes are different in every state. If anything, I just proved I don’t have all of the answers and I am not a money hungry psycho girl on instagram. I just like my job and I care about the people who work here and shop with me! 💕
If you have any other questions, please reach out on any form of social media or write below!