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