Retail 101: Lesley Jane boutique

Name: Lesley Jane
Store name: Lesley Jane
Store address: 150 S. Main Street
Store website: shoplesleyjane.com
Store insta: lesleyjaneboutique
When did you open the store: 2009
Number of full-time employees: 1 full-time, 5 part-time
What do you sell in your store: women’s clothing, accessories, shoes, handbags, small collection of girl’s 7-14 clothing
Previous jobs/ventures: Owned Captain Logan from 2004 to 2009

Why did you decide to open your own storefront? I started out in fashion, working for a chain of young contemporary women’s specialty stores. When I left retail almost a decade later, I began a new career in marketing, advertising and public relations. After more years than I want to admit here, I went back to my roots – fashion.

Which came first, the online store or the bricks and mortar store? Brick and mortar store.

List five skills/qualifications that you think are important to have before launching a storefront. Marketing, sales, effective communication skills (both written and spoken), passion, drive, resilience (more than five, I know).

What’s the most effective marketing tool that you’ve been using recently? Instagram, Google+, other forms of social media

What’s more important when opening a storefront: Location, having a nice cash cushion, or having a lot of retail experience? I would have placed good location very high on the list a few years ago, but the trend of online shopping has changed all that. Conversely, if you have a good cash cushion and no buying experience, it’s going to be hard to succeed. You really have to know how to buy and how much to buy to meet your sales goals.

How do you decide which vendors/products/brands you want to carry in your store? I’m always searching for new lines. I look for up and coming brands. I don’t buy deep because I want my merchandise constantly changing. I buy for look, fit, availability, and price. I include my sales staff in my buying decisions.

Do you carry any local vendors/brands? Yes, I buy jewelry from local artists. I like the idea of one-of-a-kind jewelry items.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in running your business? Honestly, knowing how customers will react to my merchandise mix.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of opening their own storefront? Do your homework. Talk to other store owners. Decide if you want a brick and mortar store, or an online presence, or both. Hire a really good accountant – one you trust. Take as much of the tax, payroll, etc. off your hands as possible, and let your accountant handle it so you can focus on buying and selling. Hire the best people you can and make sure they have the same as passion you when it comes to customer service.

What advice would you give to an up-and-coming brand looking to build a strong relationship with a retailer? Hire a really good sales rep. Make sure you can ship on-time and that your quality is consistently high.

Are there any online resources that you regularly visit to help you run your business better, or keep up with the latest industry trends? Fashion sites that follow fashion trends; also fashion blogs.

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