Owning a specialty store is unique in its own sense, it takes a lot of creativity, dedication and excellent clientele relationship to uphold the etiquette of the boutique world these days. I have found that operating my boutique, Alchemy/Mia-dolls has some very meticulous details that one would have to have the utmost patience for in order to be successful.
My first endeavor came with crocheting my own scarves and setting them in a window at my father’s business in North Carolina. My father owns a Mercedes/BMW auto/repair/body shop. He has many high end clientele that are simply waiting in the waiting room, with bored looks on their faces. I have always wanted to be my own fashion designer from the time I was little. So I thought, well there has to be a way to test to see if my own ideas would sell. That is where my skinny scarves came into mind. I made over 25 skinny scarves out of mohair/soft yarn. I made sure that I used the most current and prettiest mohair yarn I could find. I was so ecstatic when my first scarf sold. Even though it was only a ten dollar sale, I proved to myself that I did have the talent to put my fashion sense out there. I even had a compliment from a local lawyer that my skinny scarves were made better than the ones he could purchase at the stores for twice the price.
Since then I have opened up my own small boutique, I sell online and do special events for young children. I feel that if you want to gain customers, you have to visually see who the customer is first. I think that when you are dealing with a certain buyer or new customer you want to take a little while to see what they like. For example my neighbor, a good friend of mine, is a cheerleading coach. She had many events this past fall where she could use my ideas to incorporate in her events. I made Cheerleader Barbies that looked just like the cheerleaders on the squad. Half of the profits went to the cheerleaders to buy new pom-poms for next season. I think that having a good reputation and seeing that your customers really get something out of their purchase is wise.
Another strong point is to keep your ideas open and updated. For example at one time, with my dolls particularly, custom Britney Spears dolls were the key seller. Now Britney has faded away and Lady Gaga has taken over the couture line of eye-catching outfits to emulate on a doll. I have had so much fortune in the past year with my doll sales, my OOAK line of Barbie dolls as Celebrities has made a tremendous hit for me. I also enjoy the concept that I am recycling at the same time and making something out of nothing. In addition to dolls I have other things that have sold and I am planning to sell in my boutique. Many vintage items such as old toys, collectible books are a must have for my boutique, it has made me stand out and make my customers come back. I feel my customers really appreciate the hard work and dedication I put into finding vintage items for them as well. If you are going to do a vintage boutique, you must know that the endless hours of researching items and comparing them to what really will sell opposed to what will not is very important. For example a vintage pink corduroy Gap skirt was one of my first selling items, and I will always remember it as a unique and special piece. Vintage shopping for your own boutique can be very fun with a gal-pal or your mom, not to mention you might even find something you just love yourself! I have so many fond memories with my mom shopping for items for the boutique, it is so much fun and great way for a mother and daughter to bond.
Also in my boutique I enjoy making my own paper products as well. I love making huge tissue flowers, they have always been a great love of mine since I was little. In my kids line of products I try to think back to what I liked as a child; some things never change! I also have made my own pinatas, there is nothing like a homemade paper product for a child to love. My mom even started making small baby items such as crochet beanies/headbands for little girls. The entire child’s line of products these days is amazing; there are so many items that are appealing to the young child. I really love to see that child has a special connection to what they are purchasing. A child is not going to fully understand the concept of an OOAK barbie , but they will love to have a special game or toy that makes their day.
In addition to all the above items and key points, I would like to say that themes are important too for your boutique, take it from me. My themes are usually based either on present times or past times. I like the new pop-culture generation of ideas that we gather from our singers/starts/actors, etc. The simple idea that Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez has a purse similar to the one in my boutique is sometimes a selling point. For the unique individual I like to get to know that person and see what they are into, what kind of items appeal to them. Finally for the shoppers who are looking for nostalgic items, my boutique is definitely for you. Overall I think that the nostalgia and memorable items I sell in my boutique is what makes so uniquely different. When a customer remembers seeing something in your store, whether it is online or out in public, they always will also remember you for preserving it also. Preservation, presentation and display of your boutique items can really make or break a sale.
Going into my third year of business, I am hoping to expand my business in more ways than one. The new line of handmade berets, crocheted bunny slippers, more scarves/headbands, pinatas, paper flowers, many clothing items and of course my unique and rare toy and doll collection will be part of the 2011 preview. As time goes on, there is always out with the old, in with the new. But at the same time some items are classic and will always be cherished by customers. Having the will power and mind set to start your own boutique is something that takes some time but it also comes with patience and practice. The best part of my boutique is simply that it is my own ideas for the most part, my own mind has created this successful boutique that I can boast about and be very proud of. Good luck to all of you hopeful boutique owners in the near future!