Brooke Magdzinski opened Dottie Couture Boutique in 2010 with the goal of offering high quality boutique fashion at an affordable price. This business model has worked well for her: DCB has almost 60 employees, three stores, and has shipped over half a million orders from its online store. Read on to learn about Brooke’s business advice, and how she makes DCB stand out!
Name: Brooke Magdzinski
Store name: Dottie Couture Boutique
What do you sell in your store: On trend and affordable women’s apparel, accessories, handbags, gifts and shoes. We specialize in the look for less.
Previous jobs/ventures: I worked in management before in a corporate setting and then worked in a boutique for my fun part time job. I eventually became a manager and buyer for that boutique before going out on my own.
Why did you decide to open your own storefront?
All of the boutiques in town at the time were so expensive, I wanted to bring fashion forward, high quality apparel without the high price tag. I wanted to create a space that would turn into people’s “happy place.”
Do you have an online store as well?
Our online store is our biggest entity. We’ve shipped over half a million orders!
List five skills/qualifications that you think are important to have before launching a storefront?
I think you need to be a very hard working personal that can handle failure, learn from it and push forward. You must be goal oriented, and open minded. I think you need to be a team player and understand that it will take a village to get your vision off the ground. Most of all, I think you need to be a kind person. Be someone people want to work for and who customers want to support.
What’s the most effective marketing tool that you’ve been using recently?
Social media and word of mouth. Good customer service and customer referrals will take you much further than an ad roll.
What’s more important when opening a storefront: Location, having a nice cash cushion or having a lot of retail experience?
Location, because it is very important to be seen and easily located. You can piggy back off stronger retailers around you for business. Your cash cushion is also crucial. You need to spend money to make it, and swimming in a sea of debt can take years to dig out of. Retail experience is great, but you will be learning as you go no matter what, and your business plan and retail environment is ultimately what you create, it may not fit into the mold of your previous experiences.
How do you decide which vendors/products/brands you want to carry in your store?
I like to see it, feel it, and wear it. We attend markets, fly out to see our vendors, receive samples and source the best products with really affordable price points. We also support local vendors like Ambre Blends, and love supporting locals.
Do you carry any local vendors/brands?
We are always open to local vendors, but we are fast fashion and often smaller brands can’t produce the volume we need in the time frame we need it. We often do pop up shops with local vendors in our shops, and that’s a really great way to support and spotlight them.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in running your business?
Competition. Retail is a really hard industry, and you need to constantly evolve to stay relevant. We are so lucky to have such a big and loyal customer base that shops with us, but I never get too comfortable and am always thinking ahead to what is my next move to grow DCB.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of opening their own storefront?
1. Make sure you have a demand for your business. 2. Identify your niche, what makes you different. 3. Identify your target market, who is your shopper?
4. Find the perfect spot, location is everything. 5. Pay attention to capitol. Make sure you have some money in the bank and be very conservative with how you spend it.
What advice would you give to an up-and-coming brand looking to build a strong relationship with a retailer?
I love it when people send me samples rather than flooding me with emails. I think it’s important to develop a personal relationship with the retailer so they want to support you. Dropping off coffee never hurts!