I owned my boutique for a little over a year, and I did it online and at trade shows. It started out as a mommy and me shop, but after a few months, it was hard to make a profit with the children’s side. I then transitioned to just women. It was a wonderful chapter of my life! The best part was hands down the people. It was a fun time to look back on!
I put up a question box on my Instagram stories, and these are the ones asked!
Is the market too saturated for another small boutique or should I go for it? Never! If it’s what you feel called to do it, do it! There’s enough to go around and everyone can win! And even if it doesn’t work out, at least you took the leap and learned something along the way!
How do you get started? Legally and everything? First thing first, get a LLC! We filed ours with a lawyer, but I believe there are other options too (possibly online). From there, you’ll need a tax ID number.
What were your first 5 steps to starting your boutique? 1. LLC 2. Tax ID 3. Website 4. FB group and IG page (generate hype) 5. Inventory
Was it hard to make a profit? In the beginning, everything came in and went right back out! You’re constantly buying new inventory, or I was at least. But after a little bit, it was an extremely profitable business, and I had great success with it.
Where did you get your clothes from? We would fly to Dallas for the day and do market, then fly home that night! There’s hundreds of brands at market. It’s so fun! You get to see everything, and you’re shopping for the next season. So like right now, you would be shopping for fall/winter. You get to see what the trends are going to be, and you’ll find your fave brands eventually!
What is the best way to find vendors? Market! Also, there’s a website called “Fashion Go” where you can shop wholesale. You can’t get on it unless you have your LLC/Tax ID #, but a lot of the brands at market are on that site! I spent most of my time on that site shopping!
Do you go to market and purchase the stuff to sell? What type of discounts do you get? You’ll order at market, but you don’t leave with anything. Typically it all ships. They’ll have it separated out in shipment months. Like “this section ships July” “this one August” etc. It helps to spread it out, and you aren’t charged until it ships. The discounts vary, it’s wholesale so it’s cheaper to give you room for a profit margin.
How did you know where to purchase quality wholesale items from? When you go to market, you’ll get to see everything. It’s all just samples, so you’ll have some trial and error. You can send back what you’re not happy with. Sometimes there is a restock fee, just FYI. You’ll eventually know what brands you love and good quality.
Any good online markets we can order from? Fashion Go was literally where I ordered so much of my inventory!
Who did you use for shipping and where did you get the shipping supplies? So if you use Shopify for your site, you can print your shipping labels directly from there. I am telling you, Shopify is amazing for boutiques, especially if you’re just getting started! I bought bags to ship and other stuff from Amazon and Etsy, so I could buy in bulk and get cute branded stuff.
How much is needed to start up a boutique? We paid for my LLC, I think it was a couple hundred. Then I started my site on Shopify (highly recommend). I had $1000 to get my first items, and I didn’t buy anything until those were sold. Thankfully I sold them all and had to order more by doing “pre-sale.”
What is the estimated overhead costs for a smooth flowing boutique? I started with the $1000 and flipped it quick. It went back out for the first few months. I think it’s important to have good price points, but good quality too! Also, it’s important to share your style. Of course, there will be overlap…you’re all shopping from the same places. But share your style, model the clothes yourself, and show how you would wear them! That helps a lot in my opinion.
What are the best ways to market a business online, but services are in person? Create an experience and environment people will want to share about! Invite people in to experience your service and ask them to share if they feel led to. You can create a referral/reward program if they share and others come in because of their sharing. Collaborating with local influencers has the ability to be beneficial for brand awareness and conversions. Just always think it’s important to remember you’re doing both. You want people to remember your name when they are in need of a service you offer, and that could be because they saw an influencer/or previous customer mention it 6 months prior. At the end of the day, know loyal customers are your people! Treat them right, and they’ll stick with you until the end and bring their army with them through word of mouth.
Why did you move on from the boutique side of things? I ran my online shop out of a hall closet in our house. It was just me most of the time. I ran the site, packed everything up, and took it to the post office. I was the face of it all. I was constantly searching for inventory and having to update the site. Dealing with the returns, doing local trade shows, etc..I loved it all, but it took me away from my people a lot. It’s a non stop hustle, and I applaud everyone doing it! I wanted to still share fashion and things I love but lighten the load. That’s when I crossed over. Ricky helped so much with the kids during it all plus running another business we had. It was a lot! So thankful for that season though! Loved it all and honestly I could have made it easier by hiring help. I would 100% do that if I ever stepped back into that world!