Boutiques seem to be popping up all over the place, especially locally, as we found out in this week’s feature. If your dream is to open a boutique, chances are your head is spinning with questions about how much money you will need, where funding will come from, where to find suppliers, how to lease a retail space, what your boutique’s specialty should be and the biggest question is usually “Where do I get started?”
We asked Britt Cruikshank, owner of La Silhouette Lingerie to share her insights and advice for wannabe-boutique owners:
Have a Game Plan and Stick to It
“I decided to open a lingerie boutique because no one else was carrying the brands that I wanted to purchase. So, I decided to open a boutique to carry those brands because there was a need for beautiful and comfortable lingerie in the Cincinnati area,” says Cruikshank.
“[Opening the boutique] came from pure frustration, actually. Cincinnati didn’t have a luxury lingerie shop with the European brands I grew up with. Sure, there are lingerie shops here, but not with these brands and not with this European environment. We want women to feel pretty just being here. Some of my best clients don’t always come to shop; they often come in for a cup of tea and a nice conversation,” she says. “It is extremely important that you have a business plan and follow it! It is hard to make sure that you do not over buy when you go to market the first time,” Cruikshank advises.
Location, Location, Location!
Cruikshank chose to open her boutique in Madeira, “This is where I live so, naturally it is where I chose to start a business. I think in this period of time it is hard to start a business anywhere, but if you are selling a product that people need then you will do well, ” she says.
Don’t Let Your Disadvantages Take Advantage of You
Even though Cruikshank didn’t have any prior experience running her own store, she took her stint with trunk shows and used it to her advantage, “I held trunk shows in my home which is different than opening your own business. However, through the trunk show business it taught me how to deal with customers and what customers wanted to purchase,” Cruikshank recalls.
No (Wo)man is an Island
Picking a great staff is an integral part in ensuring a successful boutique, “Personalities, long term employment, team players and hard workers are the biggest components when I am considering a new member for my staff,” Cruikshank says about choosing the right staff for her boutique.
Hit the Books…and People!
Research should be another key component in one’s start-up plans, “I read a book on how to manage your business’ financial and I talked to other owners of shops,” Cruikshank says. “I found my suppliers by reading up on their reputations and going to market and looking at the quality of their products.”
Beg, Borrow and There’ll Be No Need to Steal!
Money, money…mon-nay! Everyone’s initial concern about starting his or her own business is: “Can I afford to do it?” And even though you might not be rolling in the greenbacks, there are numerous financial options for people to turn to, “I used personal resources and used a small business loan. There are many small business loans out there for women to take advantage of,” Cruikshank says.
It’s Not Easy Being Queen Bee
“It is a 24/7 job and you have to be prepared for that. It is not something that you can blow off for personal functions or events. Your boutique becomes your life for the first year, at least.” says Cruikshank. The biggest misconception about owning one’s own business, according to Cruikshank, is that it is easy. According to her, it is difficult and you won’t be successful over night. It takes time and determination.
With limited budgets and resources, store owners need to come up with creative and inexpensive tricks/tips for making their space fab and chic, “Think of the image you want to represent, use your imagination and look through magazines to get ideas,” says Cruikshank.
- For more tips on getting your boutique up and running, check out this article.
- Check out these books for great research materials before you take the boutique plunge.
Photo: La Silhouette Lingerie