5 First Steps To Opening Your Clothing Boutique

5 First Steps to Opening Your Clothing Boutique | technical-designer.com


It may seem like a daunting task to open your own clothing boutique. And while it doesn’t come without a lot of hard work, I know that anyone can do it!

At the age of 23, I decided to pursue opening my own store and am proud of what I accomplished in the end.

When I first started – I had no one to guide me and no one that I could ask questions to see if I was doing something correctly or not. All in all it was a lot of trial and error.

I decided to go ahead and put together 5 steps that will help you get started. This is for those of you that have the idea in your head, but haven’t started anything yet because maybe you just don’t know where to begin.


1) Create Your Vision

  • The very first thing I did when I decided to open my clothing boutique was to create my vision. If you have no vision, you have no end result. What I did that I found very helpful was to create my boutique’s vision book. I found pictures (from magazines and online) of the colors I liked for the inside of the store, what my target customer liked or looked like, different merchandising ideas, etc. Basically anything and everything that helped me to see my vision clearer. If you know exactly what the final look and feel of your boutique should be, it will be easier to make decisions throughout the process of opening your store because you will know exactly what you want the final product to be.

2) Develop Your Boutique’s Brand

  • When thinking of your boutique’s brand, keep in mind how you will stand out next to all the other clothing boutiques or stores. Have this in mind when choosing a name for your store and when designing your logo. When developing my store’s brand, I wanted to center around the fact that all the clothes and items I was going to be selling would be from Los Angeles based brands and designers. I wanted to offer Wisconsin all that Los Angeles had offered me in the shopping experience. I then developed everything from that idea, including my store name, look, and ambiance.

Clothing Boutique

3) Begin Your Business Plan

  • My business plan was probably the most difficult thing about opening a boutique for me. I bought a book on how to write a business plan and in the end I had barely looked at the thing. What I found most helpful was finding examples online of business plans.  BPlans.com is a great site that has a lot of information on business plans. You can create your business plan there and they even have very specific business plan examples for clothing boutiques. When I thought my business plan was complete I took it to the bank to ask for a loan, only to be sent back home a few different times to revise it. :) So, no need to get discouraged if you have to revise it a few times! In the end, you’ll have a beautiful blueprint for your business.

4) Research Which Lines You Will Carry

  • It’s probably easiest to shop stores similar to your boutique and see what lines they have when deciding what merchandise to carry. Compile a list of brands that you’re interested in carrying and begin to contact the sales reps for these lines. Sometimes it takes a little while to be approved to carry certain brands or some you won’t be able to get at all. It just depends how selective the brand is when choosing what stores will carry their line. You could also visit a place like the Cal Mart in Los Angeles to get ideas and see the styles of different lines that you may want to carry in your boutique.

5) Start Your Website

  • I ended up starting my website before I opened the doors to my physical location. I started with a store on E-bay and then designed an e-commerce site through Yahoo. Yahoo has a site builder that once you learn the basics – you can develop a pretty nice e-commerce site on your own. I was trying to do everything at as low of cost as possible. I have a friend that just spent almost $5,000 on their e-commerce site which I think is completely unnecessary. Even once I wanted a better designed site I only paid $400. I put an ad on Craigslist and the person I found was looking to add to their portfolio and experience and did an excellent job on my site. Starting your website, Facebook page, and Twitter can help you get your name out there even before you open!

***UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I have switched my boutique’s website over to Shopify. I absolutely LOVE Shopify. It is by far the easiest e-commerce platform I have used. What do you guys think of Shopify?

*****UPDATE: By popular request, I wrote a tutorial on How to Open an Online Boutique with Shopify

Do you have any other questions about getting started on your clothing boutique? Leave me a comment! :)



  1. venee mcgee says

    I just wanted to tell you how wonderful your advice has been for me! you are like my mini-human bible! lol but I did want to know, what is the best way to get in contact with the merchants? For my boutique I want to carry name brands such as hudson, joe, j-brand, jeans etc. I also wanted to carry Kim Kardashian’s clothing line and Whitney (from the Hills) clothing as well! please any more advice will be helpful!

  2. Gary Locke says

    I’m looking to open up a denim boutique, I fill the five steps you explained was a great foundation to start from.

  3. Kimberley Jarrett says

    Hi Raquel,

    This is an amazing introductory to help guide me with the right steps in opening my boutique. This is something I’ve been wanting to start for awhile but felt like I did not know where to start because of a lack of major unanswered questions to guide me in the right direction. Your a great person to share these valuable information with those who are highly interested in starting a successful boutique. Thank you so much Raquel and I look forward to your newsletter!

  4. Elizabeth James says

    Hi Raquel,

    Did you hire someone to handle the record keeping side of the business? I would love to have a boutique but don’t know a lot about that end of it. What is your advice for this area?

    Thank you,
    Elizabeth James

    • says

      Hi Elizabeth,

      When I first opened, I purchased Quickbooks software for my accounting. Instead of trying to learn everything about Quickbooks and bookkeeping myself and maybe miss something – I hired an accountant that was familiar with Quickbooks for the first few months to teach me the program. She showed me how to use Quickbooks and let me know what important information I needed to keep track of. After I got the hang of it, it was relatively easy to input all of the information I needed for taxes every year (I would definitely recommend hiring someone else to do your taxes).

      So, even with no experience in accounting, it can 100% be something you can do yourself!

      Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!


    • says

      Hi Zanobia,

      Alot of different factors can effect the cost of opening up a boutique – the location, the type of clothing, the size of the boutique, etc. That being said, for me starting a junior’s boutique in Wisconsin, the cost was about $30-$40k. My family and I did a lot of the labor ourselves so I would say this amount is on the very low end of the cost of opening a boutique. I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions.


  5. cece says

    hi and thank u for the helpful information i am wainting to start an online boutique before opening a actual store because my financial situation but i am stuck on the different linceses i need for my online boutique. also i dont know if i should use my government name for my business because it will save me some money or use the name i really love but if i use it it will cost me $200 dollars….or can i use my government name for the important stuff like my business license tax id number and sellers permit and just use the name i love for my website and business cards? thank u ttys

    • says

      Hi Cece,

      Thanks for your comment! When you choose a name for your store and apply for your seller’s permit and business license, I would use the name that you will be using in business for your store. Is the $200 the fee for a trademark? – Or what was that fee for? I’ll try and help you figure out everything you will need. You can e-mail me at Raquel@technical-designer.com any time :)

      Talk to you soon!

      • Joy says

        Hi Raquel,

        I would love if you could do a blog on starting an online boutique, there just really aren’t a lot of resources out there.


        • says

          Hi Joy!

          You must be reading my mind! :) I was actually working on a post to do a case study on starting an online boutique and taking everyone through the process of what I did with my own site. I am going to try and post the first post today or tomorrow. Thanks for your comment!


          • Alicia crump says

            Hello there! I was just wondering, did you ever do this, about your own site of how you started?? Thank you and look forward to hearing from you!!! :)

  6. Sabil says

    I recently emailed you with a little further detailed information I would like. Also wanted to add what I need to do first to see if name of business I would like is available. Thanks so much

  7. Omniya says

    This was so helpful! you really inspired me to get my boutique going. how may I contact you for further questions?

      • Jeancarlo says

        Hi there I happen to come across your articles and they are truly helpful but I still have a few questions, do you still check your email regularly?

        • says

          Hi Jeancarlo,

          I do check my email regularly. I try my best to respond to all of my emails – sometimes it just takes me a while to get through all of them. :)


  8. Yolanda says

    Hello. I am very interested in starting an online boutique from home. This is something I have been wanting to do for some time now and finally have decided to step out on faith and move foward. I have my business plan written down and have been in touch with our Small Business Development office for suggestions and advice. My next phase is to start looking at merchandise and I don’t know where to look. Do you have any suggestions for buyers or wholesalers? My desired target area is Petite and Plus size. I look forward to hearing back from you. Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Yolanda,

      I would definitely suggest attending a trade show or check out your nearest showrooms. You will get plenty of ideas at both of those places!


  9. Sharon says

    Hi Raquel-

    I have been searching the internet trying to find helpful information on the breakdown of opening a boutique your 5 steps are AWESOME!!! Thank you so much for taking your time to explain these very important steps to us. I have one question for you….Where do I start with looking for inventory? I am in the process of opening a online boutique and I have a few places in mind but I am still not satisfied….

    Again thank you for time and your expertise!

    Sharon B

      • syreeta keith says

        Hi I really appreciate all of your responses because I’m trying to open up a boutique. But can u please tell me where I can find a trade show? Or show room that carries quality items but that’s not too pricey? I’m trying to find pieces that too many other stores don’t carry. Please help? Also where would I get inventory at from La?

  10. says

    I have a home-based biz called chocolate Kiss Boutique it is couture lingerie, exotic oils and All Natural Soaps. created in 2008, I want to get my brand out there more, I have facebook page and free website on webs.com. I want a boutique store, but no captial, how do I go about getting loans from angel investors

  11. Cathy says

    Hi Raquel,

    I randomly felt on these postings and thank you for all clarifications. In addition, with $40,000 how many employees could I be able to hire and pay and how much do I need for inventories.

    Thank you in advance.


    • says

      Hi Cathy,

      That all depends on what type of boutique you will have and how big it will be. For my junior’s boutique, I spent about 7-10k on inventory.
      For me, for the first year and a half I worked 7 days a week without hiring any employees. If there were times I wasn’t able to work, I hired a trusted relative or friend to work for me.

      Hope that helps!

  12. Shawn says

    Hi, the information you’ve provided is very helpful. I’d like to open an online boutique and eventually open a physical location. I’m trying to figure out what is the typical guideline for percentage mark up. So for example if I pay $10.00 wholesale for an item how much should I actually charge for it.

  13. says

    Hi Raquel

    Me and my partner are in the process of opening an online boutique for baby clothes and we already found a distributor. But now we don’t know what to select. How many pieces we should select for items and what sizes?. Do you recommend us to select one style and all of the sizes for that style or different styles with different sizes and how many units for size?.

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    Ginnette Feliciano

    • says

      Hi Ginnette,

      I am not too familiar with buying baby clothes, but I asked a friend that works at a showroom that has baby clothes. She said that usually the clothes will come in pre-packs of 4 or 6 pieces at predetermined sizes and quantities. When buying at first you’ll have to do a little trial and error to see what sells and what doesn’t. Does the vendor you’re purchasing from sell in pre-packs?


  14. Glorese Gordon says

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to start my own boutique. I understand your five steps to opening your boutique, but how about the knowledge understand the busy? Well have have to attend a school?

    • says

      Hi Glorese,

      While a business education would be a great asset to opening your boutique, it is not completely necessary. I started my boutique by doing all the research and learning on my own. I read countless books and also read a lot online about clothing stores and small businesses. And when I still didn’t know the answer for something – I would find someone that I could ask. So, don’t be discouraged because it definitely can be done without attending business or fashion school :)


  15. Rosalyn Knight says

    Hello Raquel, I have looked at the questions and comments on this site I’m written to ask you yes I want to open up a Boutique store. about 15 yrs ago I started a small business from home. I have a vision of the store and all my only problem is money wise and credit isn’t good , but the passion is their when and everytime I think about it , it’s a awesome feeling I get and I’m 47 yrs of age and I’m a Minister truly knowing that this is my dream that will make it happen something that I love to do and it is make womens feel good and look good selling women suits from home blessed me yrs ago and now I want to go all the way so tell me what you think. Ms Rosalyn Knight. I’m willing to do whatever it takes and how long it takes ,But I want this..

    • says

      Hi Rosalyn,

      I think you should definitely continue to follow your dream. Start small and build your business from there and be patient. If you continue to work hard and are determined, you will realize your dream! :)

      Best Wishes,

  16. Reetika says

    Hi Raquel..
    I want to start a clothing boutique n i m not familar with the machinery that can b used for it n frm whr can i buy those products. so plz can u help me

    • says

      Hi Reetika,

      I’m not sure what machinery you are referring to for opening a store. Maybe you are referring to what POS system I used. Please let me know.


  17. The Gift Salon says

    I currently run a beauty salon however i have a portion of my salon thats vacant. I thought about opening a consignment shop or maybe a goodwill boutique any suggestions?

    • says


      I think that’s a great idea! I actually had some of my merchandise in a few local salons as well. I would say accessories work out best. Jewelry, scarves, etc. sold really well for me. The clothing items were a little more difficult since I only had Junior’s clothing and there are many different types of customers coming into a salon!

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  18. Shawn says

    Thank you so much for this information. I’m seriously considering moving forward with opening a boutique. I don’t know where to look when it comes to cash registers, or programs that ring customers up on the computer and would also be able to save their contact information for future sales. I currently use square for small vendor shows that I attend however I know I will need something on a larger scale once I open. And how long do you wait before you decide it’s time to put an item on sale?

    • says

      Hi Shawn,

      I used QuickBooks POS for my store sales. If you purchase the whole bundle, it comes with absolutely everything you need. You can print barcode labels for your merchandise and they include the scanner, computer, cash drawer, credit card processing and it will help you manage your inventory and customers.

      Usually I would have my primary sales after every season. But in between I would run promotions and other kinds of smaller sales to bring people in.

      Hope that helps!

  19. Tequilla S. says

    Hi Raquel,

    I want to open a boutique for petite and plus size women. I live in Mississippi I was wondering how much do you think it will cost to open the store and what steps do I need to take?

    • says


      You’ll definitely want to start your business plan and that will help you figure out the cost. I wouldn’t be able to give you an accurate estimate for a store in Mississippi because I don’t have stores there…. yet ;)

      Once you start your business plan and by using some of the links I have in my post for examples, you will naturally walk yourself through the steps of opening your boutique.

      I hope that helps!

  20. Jameka says

    Hello miss rachel me and my partner are in serious talks about starting an online boutique. I wanted to let you know that your 5 steps one of the few resources ive used in researching how to start my online boutique and i found your 5 steps most helpful thanks for all that you do! I wanted to ask you a few questions if you dont mind? We havent got a clue on what distributors to approach nor how? I also wanted to ask you how to purchase how many of each garment you purchase and how many in each size? Should i start out purchasing alot or start small?

    • says

      Hi Jameka,

      I would first decide on your budget and then you can decide how big or small you want to go. I would suggest attending a trade show so that you can visit all the different booths and get an idea of what you want to carry. You will get more than enough contacts at these shows! :) Usually, when you buy wholesale, you will buy them in “pre-packs” so the sizes and how many of each will already be predetermined for you. For example if you buy one “pre-pack” of a certain t-shirt in junior’s, you will most likely get 2/Small, 2/Medium, and 2/Large.

      I hope that helps!

  21. Leslieann says

    Hi there! This article was very helpful. Im just wondering how much time it took after the online shop that you opened a physical store. Like how long after you started your idea did it take you to start online and then how long after that for the store. Thanks a bunch!

    • says

      Hi Leslieann,

      I opened my physical location about 6-7 months after I started my online boutique. I came up with the idea to open my store while I was still living in Los Angeles. I moved to Wisconsin in Feb/March of 2006 and that’s when I started working on everything. It took me probably a few weeks to get my site up and then I opened my physical location in Sept. of 2006. So about 6 months to write my business plan, get loans, purchasing, construction on my space and I was up and running! :)

      Thanks for your comment!

  22. vanessa says

    I agree with everyone above, your advice/tips are more than guiding and helpful and truely appreciate you for taking the time out to share your insight with us. My question to you is; when researching/looking for new designers/clothing lines to sell in my online boutique, How do I go about that? I’m looking for not only new american designers but designers from all over the world ex; south america/australia/Europe/caribbean etc.

    • says

      Hi Vanessa,

      Thank you for reading and I’m glad you found it helpful!

      If you’re looking for new designers (something that’s not so mainstream) I would suggest perhaps contacting some of the fashion schools. For example, where I went to school at FIDM they have a section called “Alumni Links” and you can find hundreds of new designers’ websites under all the different majors. Its a great way to find emerging talent!

      Hope that helps some!

  23. Raj says


    Hope you doing well Raquel. My question is how to know what’s the trend going on right now & what are the colors used ?

  24. krishna says

    i have completed my intermediate.
    im vexed of these studies.
    im much interested in designing and have a botique of mine
    i need your help
    what to read.?
    how to step ahead ?

  25. ashley Joy says

    Hi Rachel,
    My significant other and I are interested in opening a small clothing boutique. we been talking about this for some time now. and I want to know how did you go about it with wholesalers/distributors. I was thinking more of a chic kind of boutique. clothing such as cute dresses, leggings, accessories, shoes, etc., Not major name brand clothing but nice clothes. How should I go about finding distributors and wholesale items.

  26. Mercedes Fields says

    Hello Raquel, my partner and I are planning on launching our boutique fall of 2014. We have decided to use some online wholesalers from Asia, do you have any insight on the success of using an online wholesaler? Thanks for your help!

    • says

      Hi Mercedes,

      Wholesalers in Asia can definitely work out – but make sure you do your research and maybe order some samples first so that you know the type of quality that you are getting. A lot of times the pictures look different than what you actually will get!


  27. Shanequa says

    Hello Raquel,

    It is my dream to open a fashion boutique. Your five steps and comments are very helpful. I think my biggest struggle moving towards my first step, is having a mentor. I need that one on one experience to help get motivated and better acquainted with my task.

  28. says

    Hi Raquel,
    I plan on attending the Magic show in Feb and I know this show is huge. Do you have any advice (like do’s and don’ts) for first time buyers at a trade show? I don’t want to get overwhelmed.

  29. lola says

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m Lola and at the very beginning-just the idea. I just turned 23 when I got fired from my corporate job though always had a knack for creative expression with clothing and have 2 questions:
    how does the internet sales get taxed and such before the physical location or is it that as long as the articles of incorporation is complete? The second question is just…would you be willing to mentor me? and maybe a sounding board once in a while, I feel you can relate and guide me in a positive direction.


    • says

      Hi Lola,

      As of now, you only have to charge sales tax online in states where you have a physical presence – for example a store, warehouse, etc.

      Always feel free to send me an e-mail if you have any questions and I would be happy to help in any way that I can! :)


  30. Saima khan says

    Hi Raquel!!
    I’m also planing to start a clothing work/ boutique, for this regard I email you
    On your given id, pls reply
    Saima khan

  31. Tara says

    Hi Raquel, I am 26 and living in New Zealand, originally from London and studied textiles for fashion at London college of Fashion, I have always ended up back working within retail and mostly boutique style stores which i love as i thrive in a one to one styling environment, i love the customer service you can give and get and now i am managing a New Zealand made designer clothing boutique and have really decided that i want my own. This way i can pick what i want to sell and make the boutique the way i want it! The advice above is awesome thank you, but i was wondering how much of a loan you required to start your business ? and is it better to start smaller and then enlarge or just go all out at first ? I definitely have the vision and passion and extensive retail experience, but i have never started this journey because i am afraid of failure and the money that i would potential need to start up the next part of my life ? Thank you, your replies would be really appreciated. Tara

    • says

      Hi Tara,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Of course a lot of things will factor in for how much you will need for your boutique. I opened my first boutique in a smaller town in the midwest where retail space is a lot more affordable than bigger cities. Also, depending on the type of clothes you want to sell etc will all effect greatly how much you will need. That being said – for my boutique I used about $7-10k of my own money that I saved up and then I took out a loan for about $30k.

      Starting small or going all out – that’s a little tougher for me to answer. I think that you can still “go all out” but do it more on a budget. :) For example – I had to renovate my retail space. Obviously that can get pretty expensive, but I took help wherever I could get it from my family and they all helped me paint, my dad and I laid the flooring, etc. So, I was still able to have a nicely renovated space, but for a fraction of the cost. So, I would say see what you can do with what you have. And honestly, if you believe in yourself then you will find a way and things will work out for you, even though I know how scary it is!

      Feel free to e-mail me if you need anything else!


  32. Lorraine says

    Thanks so much for the 5 steps on how to get started to opening a boutique store. I sell a lot on eBay and want to start my own website and open a boutique store. What does the bank really look for on a business plan? I feel like I don’t know where to start.

    • says

      Hi Lorraine,

      Based on my experience with the bank, they basically wanted to know how I would be able to pay them back. I did a lot of research on other clothing stores that were in the same mall location as me and made the best estimations that I could based on the info I had. The first time I went to the bank, I didn’t have enough info in my business plan, so they asked me to add some more info and come back :) I’m going to look and see if I can find my original business plan so I can give you a better answer of what I needed. This was in 2006, so I’m not sure if it would be more difficult now to get a loan.


      • Trina Reynolds says

        I am in the process of writing my business plan and I would love some advice. I seen where the bank made you revise yours numerous times and I would love to hear anything that would help. I am hoping to open a maternity clothing store and will sell new and used clothes.

  33. Ashley Denson says

    Hi Raquel,

    I randomly stumbled across this feed and just want to say thank you for sharing. There’s so much information from your 5steps along with all the great questions asked and very helpful answers that followed!

    I have a page full of notes, that have answered questions that I had.

    Thanks Again and continued blessings and success to you!!!

  34. Jessica B says

    Hi I love your advise on starting a clothing store and would like to know if you have any information on how to start a child’s boutique store. I left an e-mail for you to e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you soon. :)

  35. April Perez says

    Great info! I moved to a small town from a big city. I’m a stay at home mom but want to open a boutique here in town since there really is not much around for all the young crowd.

    Ive already looked at a retail space that has been available for a while. The price is so inexpensive and the owner is not going to hold me to a long term lease if it doesn’t work out.

    Is a business plan necessary if I do not plan on getting a business loan?

    Do you have some sites to point me to on where you purchased your shelving, mannequins etc?

    Would you recommend someone start with an online business before a store front?
    If you start an online retail business does that mean I have to both store and ship the items out myself?

    • says

      Hi April,

      That’s great!

      To answer your questions:
      -Although a main reason you need a business plan is to get a loan, I would still suggest writing one out even if you don’t plan on getting a loan. It’s good to have a plan of action and to see exactly how much everything is going to cost, projected sales, etc.

      -I purchased my mannequins in downtown Los Angeles. Maybe you can google where to purchase them in L.A.? They usually have pretty good prices downtown. I purchased all my shelving from Palay Display which is based in MN and was easy for me to pick up.

      -I don’t think you have to start a website before you open a store. I only did, because I needed something to keep me busy while I was working on opening my boutique :)

      -If you have a store it will most likely be easiest to ship from your store location. If you are doing only online sales – you could check out a drop shipping service.

      Good Luck!

      • Julie says

        Any suggestions on a drop shipping service? Also, a few comments above you mentioned looking for your old business plan…did you find it and would you be willing to share?

  36. Sherell says

    Hi in the next two week i going to find a building to start a cloths business. i live in Los Angel 4 yr ago. me to have the idea on buying wholesales cloths from LA…I lived downtown La close to ADams Bld Crenshaw and know SanPedro st, however I want open a store for plus size for women..I enjoy all your infor u share,,Do you have any referal for wholesale store in La .i can buy from thanks…I live in Chatt.TN . thanks

  37. Rose says


    I just wanted to say good for you! This is a dream of mine opening a boutique. I work now for WHBM to learn about all the in’s and out’s of a store that was once a boutique. I think it may be a little different then it was. (Or a lot). What is your best suggestion for finding or looking for the close you would want in your boutique? How does that work? Do you go to conventions, trade shows? Do you order directly from them? What is the mark up? Lots of questions. Please let me know if you have any info on the above it would be appreciated.


  38. deborah tillman says

    I am trying to open online boutique do you have to have sale tax permit and resale permit some people say I do really got a lot of info from reading your page thank you so much if you could help me with all of the permit I need I live in Arkansas thank you

    • says

      Hi Deborah,

      I think you would need a seller’s permit, unless your state does not charge sales tax on clothing. And for now, you only need to charge sales tax to buyer’s within your state. (This law may be changing soon.)


  39. says

    Hello I have an online store and would like to know if you had any advice on how to get more fans/people to my facebook page? This is where I have a hard time is getting more likes on my page :)

    Thank you in advance

  40. Ayyanna Hamilton says

    Hi! Thanks for all the tips! Wanted to know how many Items I should start with on my online boutique

  41. Rashidah says

    Hello Raquel,
    I just want to say that not only are your tips helpful, but the fact that you’ve answered so many questions to help people is truly amazing and inspiring! I am exploring the idea of opening a boutique but have been hesitant because many articles explain failures and challenges, but you’re post has been the most helpful! I will sign up for your newsletter and email you my ideas to see if you have further tips. I wish you much success!
    Thank you

  42. swapna bhavarthe says

    hii.. this is swapna and am about to open a boutique but I am leaving in not so developed area I mean in developing area and am new here so i exactly don’t know what people would like to buy but I wanted to attract them through my product.. what you will suggest me an its my dream to open a boutique an design it like my way an attract people.. please guide me :-)

    • says

      Hi Swapna,

      I would think about what your main customer will be. What does she like to do, Where does she like to go and what will she where there…etc. That will help you decide what to get for your boutique.


  43. Sincy says

    Hai I m Sincy… I am 20years old who finished BA Economics.. I want to open a Boutique… I am from Kerala… I would like to design my own dress and sell it to the customers.. What should i study? I like to study Jwellery Making and Handicrafts… I also like to sell accessories.. Did you study any course before opening a Boutique?? All your advice was soo helpful Ms. Raquel.. Thanx a loot :)

    • says

      Hi Sincy,

      I studied Merchandise Product Development at FIDM – so I learned a lot about the production side of the fashion business. If you would like to design your own items to sell, I would suggest maybe a Fashion Design degree. If that isn’t an option for you at this time – there is so much that you can learn on your own as well from books. Good Luck!


  44. Willie says

    Hi Raquel,

    I studied fashion design, got my degree and designed for a private label over 15 years ago. I’ve been managing retail for over 30 years and always wanted to own my own boutique. I had the name, label and concept in mind for years. Now I am married with 2 children, car and house payments. I know in starting a business, you can’t expect to see profits rolling in for a few years. At mid 40, do you think it’s a good idea to go for it? I do live in a city where there is a lot of young very fashionable women but need to drive to the mall for clothes being it my area only has about 3 women’s clothing stores. This is also my motivation, but again at my age and my life style, I’m not sure I can go without having income to pay a house and having kids along with the boutique expenses. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks for all the recent feedbacks, they are all very good and motivational.


    • says

      Hi Willie,

      I would start with a really good business plan or start with the financial end of it first. Go over how much you would need to invest, your current bills, etc. and see how much sales would have to be for it to make sense for you. When looking at the numbers, if you think it is feasible, I would say go for it. If it doesn’t seem like it would work now, keep working towards it – I don’t think it’s ever too late to realize a lifelong dream! :)


  45. Caitie Hibberd says

    Hi Raquel! The second I clicked on your website and read the opening line I knew I was on the right one! I am also 23 years old and am a fully qualified hairdresser, but my passion just isn’t in hairdressing. I’ve always loved being creative and giving advice, and I’ve recently thought of putting that into my own business! I have been working in retail since the age of 14 and even in hairdressing there is constant demand for up-to-date trends, retail and creative knowledge which I think I exceed in. Your website has definitely helped me with the starting point. I agree very much about the business plan, am quite lost on that one! I do need to go see the local business advisor but knew the internet would give me just as much information. I actually live in Australia in a reasonably small town of about 30,000 people and the market for street-wear and boutique labels is at such a high demand that no one wants to bring here so people are forced to constantly buy online, living regionally the postage can take forever, it is frustrating for everyone including myself. I’m quite confident that the labels I want to pursue with would be a mega hit in this town! There are still so many unanswered questions yet such as; Do I lease a shop in a shopping centre? Do I lease a shop in the main street of the town? Will I need to undertake business management classes? etc. They are just a few, hoping you could help me out in anyway you can! Any advice is so appreciated.
    Thank you :)

    • says

      Hi Caitie,

      First off, I love Australia! Well, maybe I should say I love Australians since I’ve never been to Australia, but every time I meet Australians they’ve always been so nice and a lot of FUN! :)

      As for your questions –
      Do I lease a shop in a shopping centre? I’ve had a store in a mall and also in the downtown area of the town on main street. Having a store in the mall has it’s benefits as far as foot traffic is concerned. You will see a lot more traffic and customers this way. The cons are that the leasing prices will probably be higher and you have less freedom as far as your hours are concerned. I had mandatory holiday hours, etc. and other rules to abide by, like you can only have your gate closed for 10 minutes at a time or else you will be fined – which can be somewhat difficult if you’re the only one working in the store and you need to get lunch or something like that.

      Do I lease a shop in the main street of the town?
      You will probably see less foot traffic, but your rent will likely be less. The pros is that you will be able to make your own shop hours and can close if you are sick or have an emergency and can’t get an employee to cover for you.

      Will I need to undertake business management classes? While classes would definitely be helpful, I believe quite a bit in self teaching. There are so many things you can learn on your own either online or in books and I just find it to be a quicker way of learning.

      Hope that helps and let me know how it goes! :)


  46. says

    Hi! I found your information super helpful and I love that you want to help small business owners make their dream come true! I am a makeup artist in San Francisco and I love fashion, of course :) I’ve dreamed of starting an online/store boutique and have no idea where to start. your information gives me an idea, but my biggest question is….”how do I shop for brands and contact them?” Im having a difficult time finding brands online.

    thanks for your help!!!

  47. Megan says

    Hi! I am 18 years old and my dream has always been to open my own boutique! I know it would be a lot of hard work, but I have been looking into it and know that I can accomplish it! Any tips that you would have wanted to know? Or any important advice for me? Thanks so much. -Megan

  48. latrice fuller says

    Im trying to start my own boutique, and reading the 5 steps are great for me, i need all the help i can get to start a successful business.I know there are grants and things to help with this…do know and easier way to get start up money? I also have my own logo for my clothing line that I have and to know how to do this, I would be the happiest person in the world. please help me this is my dream for me and my kids, but thank you for the information.

  49. Annalisa says

    Hi Raquel

    I own an online boutique for women’s fashion clothing (it’s been about a year since I’ve opened up shop online) and my dream soon is to open up a little boutique in my area. I am 22 years old and I’m scared to open up a store because I feel like I won’t be able to pay for my own expenses (rent, phone bill, car payment, etc..) and I heard that clothing stores aren’t profitable within the first two years due to payback of loans, investors, and other expenses. if you can answer some questions I have that would be appreciated :)

    How did you manage to pay off your business and personal expenses??

    In what year did you start making a profit?

    Would you recommend saving up money to pay for my personal expenses while I am working at my store?

    Also, if you have any other advice for me that would be great! Thank you so much for taking the time to read all these comments and responding back!

  50. Heather says

    Hi Raquel!

    I love your blog and I am SO inspired. It so sweet of you to share so much information! I have been interested in opening a boutique for as long as I can remember! I have done tons of research, I know about the license I need, along with sellers permits. However, I am so lost as to buying the clothes. My step dad will be lending me the money to get started and keeps asking me how much I will need to get started.. and I have no clue. For starting out, I only want to do an online boutique so I won’t have all the extra expenses. I read your blog where you need to look up the brand and contact them on their website and/or visit markets. I have some brands in mind I would like to carry such as: Free People, Ark & Co., Karlie, etc. Im guessing each brand will have different requirements for how much you have to order? I just don’t know where to start on this or a round about idea how much it would cost for starting inventory? If you could help me in any way or could guide me in the right direction It would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks so much!!

  51. says

    Hey, great tips and advice here – thanks! I’m from England and have decided to open an online boutique selling handbags, makeup, jewellery and hair accessories. Really early days yet but your tips have helped me a lot! Can be really daunting starting a new business but you’ve inspired me.


    Beckie :)

  52. says

    This information was extremely helpful. I am currently a college student and have plans of owning my own fashion boutique within the next 3-4 years. I wanted to know if you had any advice on the steps I should be taking to prepare myself for becoming a boutique store owner. Is there anything you would recommend I do now that would be conducive with my career path? I also wanted to know if it is better to open an e-commerce website prior to opening up an actual boutique store. I also wanted some advice on opening an online store on e-bay. I have an idea of what I want to sell although I am not sure how I should go about it.

  53. Fozia says

    Hi Raquel

    Thank you so much for this information. Been searching all over and eventually came across you site, very helpful!!

    I am 45 yrs old. Been wanting to open a Boutique for a few years now. I started small by selling known brands from home. My customer based were mostly friends (and friends of friends) and family. Soon realised that I was doing it wrong cause I’d been selling on credit (BIG MISTAKE). I ended up running my business at a loss and decided to stop selling from home. Fortunately I wont need a loan from the bank to open a boutique. I have been to a Fashion Exhibition a few days ago and met new designers who are looking for boutiques to sell their items. I am planning on opening the boutique in 2 months. Do you think 45yrs is too old to start a boutique??

  54. Chanel K. Lee-Brun says


    My name is Chanel I live on Kauai in Hawaii and its my plan to make my dreams come true of opening and owning my own clothing boutique I really want to focous on clothing however hawaii has a really high shipping rate to the islands I have looked online numerous times and just cant come across any websites to order from that really catch my eye. Do you have any suggestions on how to get started and where to look?.


  55. Christian says

    Great article i found it very helpful. I have a couple questions tho, i am thinking about opening a menswear store. I have already found the brands i want to have in my store I’m just not sure how to proceed. I do not have my licenses and I’m not ready to start the business just yet, Should i be contacting the brands now or wait until i have everything ready (Seller permit, tax id, storefront). Also you mentioned you began the process at 23 how long did it take you to open the store?? Look forward to your reply!

    • says

      Hi Christian,

      You will need your seller’s permit and tax id before you contact the sales reps as they will need that information before they will send you any information or before you can buy anything. You can always change the address on your permits once you have your storefront as well. It took me 6 months to open my store from having nothing done to opening. Once I found the location I opened about a month after that.

      Good Luck!

  56. moe says

    I’ve been wanting to open my own boutique for such a long time now, and your advice has given me a better understanding. Just one thing I’d like to know more on…. The distributors , how do I get distributors ?

  57. Porsha Thompson says

    Your advice was very educational I a m interested in opening a boutique myself is there any way you could give me some advice on how to get contracts with different designers

  58. julie says

    hi rachel ,
    i have decided to open my own online boutique specifically with fitness clothing since im very into fitness and fitness related . I know about Quickbooks , and will be looking for wholesales if you know any good ones please let me know. How much investment should i make in inventory since for a while it will be based only online or off my home and family business. If i start it online do i need a sellers permit ? confused about the process after i have the name , the image and the vision. Now the action how to start . hope to hear from you i really like that you write back .

  59. anghela says

    Hi Requel, my name is Anghela and I have a dream opening an online boutique. I’m completely new to this and would love some help. Your info on here explains a lot but I’m still a little confused. can we be in touch thru an email?

  60. Shieda says

    Hello Raquel,

    I just want to say your entire site has been so inspiring and helpful to me. Its because of successful people like you that I am constantly inspired to set goals and follow my dreams. Thank you.

    I want to open a small lingerie boutique, a small, more intimate store around 700 – 1000 sq ft. I already have student loans from graduating fashion school so I would like to make this dream of opening my own boutique a reality with out having to borrow money to do so. With wanting to open a store as small as I would like, and looking at wholesale prices, I was thinking that maybe I could open a store for around $10,000 or less. I want to have a small inventory carrying bras, braletts, pantie briefs, thongs, stockings, some lounge wear, body oils, and candles. Maybe spend around $5,000 on the initial inventory.

    How do you feel about this? Do you think starting out this small is a terrible idea? I just want to make my dreams come true on my own with out having to borrow money. Paying back my student loans is painful enough. I don’t even think I could get approved for a business loan. I really don’t want to deal with that burden.

    Any advice you could give would help. Thank you so much!


  61. Katie says

    Hi there,
    your website gave me TONS of info and ideas about starting up a clothing boutique. I do have a few questions if you don’t mind answering them for me?

    1. Did you have a degree in anything before starting up your boutique? Currently I am going to school for business management. Is this the only degree and a good degree to have for this field?
    2. How do you go about getting clothes for your boutique and creating a brand for your store?
    3. Other than online, how do you get more information/help on starting your store up?
    4. Is it best to work in a boutique to gain experience?

    I would really appreciate any insight/help.

    Thank you!!

  62. Ana says

    Hi was just wondering if you have to study buisness or accounting or anything? I’m 18 and alongside many other girls would love to own my own boutique store just struggling on knowing where to start etc! Loved this read though so thank you you’ve really motivated me!! X

    • says

      Hi Ana,

      Thank you for reading! Although I don’t think you NEED a business degree to have your own boutique, it would also be very helpful. I think there are a lot of things that can be self taught on your own as well. Start researching as much as you can now! :)



    Hi Raquel,

    Thank you for your posts as they have been incredibly helpful. I was wondering how far in advance you have to order your inventory for a new store? Are you usually shopping for the upcoming season or are you also able to get merchandise in stock right away?

    thank you!

    • says

      Hi Bianca,

      You can do it both ways – you can buy in advance for the upcoming season or sometimes you can buy immediates. I usually like to do a combination of both. Buying styles that were available for immediate delivery helped me when I was just starting out and didn’t really know how to estimate my sales. So if inventory was getting low I could order something and have it in by the next week.


  64. Kristie says

    Hi Raquel,

    Thanks for your 5 steps, they’re really helpful. I want to start an online clothing boutique but don’t know how much inventory to buy. Do you have any suggestions? Do you keep all your inventory till you sell it or what do you do with the pieces that aren’t selling?

    Thank you,

    • says

      Hi Kristie,

      It really depends on how much you want to invest and the price point of what you’re buying. You can start out with $500 or $50,000. If something isn’t selling, I put it on sale until it sells :) I’ve been pretty lucky with being able to get rid of inventory in that way. Even if I’m just breaking even on it, at least I can get it out and get new items in!


  65. Stefanie Wirick says

    Hi Raquel,

    Just came across this post while googling info on buying for your own boutique. I am 23 and really committed to opening an online clothing boutique so your post was encouraging! My question is how did you put together your open-to-buy plan before purchasing inventory ? Did you know how much of each thing you were going to buy? I’m having a tough time planning my inventory. Any advice would be helpful. Thank you!!

    Stefanie Wirick

  66. Susie peterson says

    Thx for your info! Great advice!! How do you market an online boutique? I have a website, but right now it’s just friends and family purchasing from me. I’ve looked T company’s to hire for SEO and SEM but they are expensive and not sure if that’s what I need? Any advice?

  67. Ashley Stehlik says

    I was wondering if you are choosing to go into business with your friend, how would you go about doing it so there are guidelines on what each of us put in. We are wanting to do an online boutique. Start out small. Do we each put in a certain amount, buy some reatail, start our website, and then the business will be open?

  68. says

    Hi! Great article.

    The thing that scares me the most are the tax and law consequences (I’m a CPA, thats always front and center). I assume it’s not legal to go to an already established boutique and resell their goods – but it’s okay to go to a wholesaler online or to a garage sale? How do you know what you can and cannot sell?

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but it’s been a big part of whats holding me back from buying inventory.

  69. Kassi Porter says

    I am opening a boutique in Alabama within the next 6 months and have been doing a lot of research! I am really overwhelmed with what is needed as far as merchant services and accounting software. I realize there are a TON of options out there but do you have any suggestions? I need to be able to: accept credit/debit and cash, keep up with inventory, keep up with payroll, write checks, and have the tax info I need.. As well as integrate with my online store. Is there ONE company that offers software to do all of this?? Thank you so much!!

  70. Naida says

    Hi Raquel,

    I’m planning to start making my own line for woman.
    I wonder how many clothing size for each clothes should i make?
    Let’s say, if i made 2pcs for size S, 3pcs for size M and 2pcs for size L for each clothes. is it too little?
    And how many looks do you suggest for the first timer like me?
    Thank you so much for your help!


  71. Aireen says

    Hi Raquel,

    This is a very helpful website and you encourage a lot of people fulfilling their dreams. I will definitely stay tune here as I am also planning to step in to clothing business soon. Where can I see your clothes online? Do you ship in Australia? Thanks :)

  72. Cassandra says

    So I am really interested in opening an online boutique, I just need a little help on where to start? Do I start with a web host or do I begin with getting permits so I can make wholesales first then pay to start my online boutique?

  73. says

    I have an online kids clothing store. I have been doing drop ship right now due to lack of funds to purchase inventory. However, I am ready to start purchasing merchandise to keep at my house. I just don’t know how much to get of what size and color? Since it is kid’s clothing is mainly is based on age, which is more size options. I want to be able to buy at lot of different things, but I don’t have $10K to put into it right now. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  74. Camilla says

    When opening an online store, is drop shipping a good idea or is it smarter to ship items myself? And if so, what companies are best for drop shipping, not only in California, but all over the world? Thank You for sharing your knowledge.

  75. anjana yadav says

    hello maam…
    i anjana, from new delhi…
    actually maam i have a question to you…
    i want to opening my new own women clthing boutique…
    so please guide me…
    thanking you…!!!

  76. Kara sorweidek says

    Hello!! I really love your blog it’s full of great information. I have a question and I’m not sure if you can give me a exact answer but a average would be great! I’m starting a online boutique with my sister and we are trying to figure a budget for the clothes. Could you give us a ruff idea of what we can expect to pay? Do the clothes come in a bundle or do we have to buy each item individual ?

    • says

      Hi Kara,

      Thanks for reading! It’s difficult to say how much you will spend on inventory since there are so many variables. As a reference point, when I first opened my brick and mortar boutique I spent about $7,000 on inventory of junior’s clothing, shoes, and accessories. Usually clothes will come in pre-packs of 5-6 pieces with different sizes for junior’s or contemporary clothing. Kid’s clothing usually you choose sizes individually. It all depends on the brand.


  77. Clint Smith says


    Great blog! What do you use to track your inventory and all of your orders in your shop?

    • says

      Hi Clint,

      Thanks! I currently just use Shopify for tracking my inventory. In the past I have used Quickbooks as well which I think is another great option.


  78. kelebogile says


    I am so excited after reading your post. it actually gave me HOPE that I CAN DO THIS. I am a PR student, at first I knew nothing about fashion but I have been having this VISION for a very long time of starting my own clothing boutique. My question is , How do I start it without any capital?

    • says

      I started out small. Since my funds were very limited, I began my own business as an image consultant/personal shopper. It helped me to slowly build my business until I had the funds to open a storefront.

    • says


      I would agree with Marisha. Start small and build it up slowly. Do what you can and keep doing what you can and before you know it you will be where you want to be!


  79. Kasey says

    Thank you so much for your advice!
    What is the safest way to store inventory? I have read not to leave them in the plastic bags they come in. That’s all I can find.
    Also, what inventory management program do you recommend?


    • says

      Hi Kasey,

      Storing your inventory in the poly bags they come in should be ok – unless the manufacturer did not dry the garment well enough before packaging. I haven’t run into that issue before, but I know it can happen. I currently use my Shopify site to manage my inventory, but I have also used Quickbooks as well which I liked as well.


  80. says

    Thank you for your post. It helps so much that people (like you) take the time to share their knowledge to peeps like me (trying to start a business by my own bootstraps)! I checked out Shopify and would love to move over that direction someday too… I’m week one on my new eCommerce (so it’s a very new journey and venture).

  81. says

    I recently opened a consignment boutique and I still find this information useful. I find it helpful to go back and reflect as it allows me to tweak from time to time. I considered Shopify but I noticed that Facebook does not have a “live” person I can speak with if I have technical difficulties.

    • says

      Hi Marisha,

      I’m happy that you’ve found my posts helpful. Are you referring to Shopify and speaking with a live person? I have found that their customer service is great through email support and I usually am able to get any questions I may have answered in their forums as well.


  82. Lucy Salguero says

    LOVE this post! God bless you for sharing all of this information and answering questions. I was very impressed with the content, and inspired by your ambition and young age in opening your own boutique. I have contemplated this idea for years as well, and I don’t know why I never thought of starting out with an online shop. This is where I find myself now, being a stay at home mom, researching on how to pursue my dream. I had so many questions that luckily, people asked and I was able to get answered. I’ve read all of your related blogs and I still have some questions.
    I’d love to email you if you’re still willing to share some more advice, hopefully it’s not something you wrote about already, and I accidentally missed.

    • says

      Hi Lucy,

      Thanks so much for your comment! My email is raquel (at) technical-designer.com. Please feel free to email me with any of your questions.


  83. Bobbi Bass says

    Just happened to stumble across this and so thankful I did! I have been a small salon owner for 14 years and am currently looking to opening a second location in my hometown. I’d love to create a salon/boutique with unique, trend driven items to purchase. We have a great “downtown” area that this would fit in well. I have read what you said about a sellers permit and tax ID. I currently have my tax ID, sales and use tax license, and traders license. I’m confused as to whether either of the sales and use or traders license are the sellers permit?? My salon is licensed as a full service salon so I’m trying to figure out if I need anything else.

    Thanks again for offering this information! I will absolutely be following to get more info on trade shows etc.!!!!


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