If you love fashion, you might have considered opening up your own clothing boutique. If you aren’t already aspiring to work for one of the big name brands in the fashion industry like Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, or Tommy Hilfiger, the dream could be to work with a little of all the brands you wear and adore. When you own a boutique you can carry whatever inventory you think your customers would like. Of course the most popular and therefore profitable boutiques will target a specific customer base that will keep them coming back, however you can cater to any style you wish to bring to light.
There is more to starting your own boutique than simply ordering a bunch of wholesale maxi dresses, designer hand bags, and the newest trends in hats and jewelry. A boutique is a business and so it’s setup and operations might be a bit complicated to the layman. If you fall under this category, but wish to open your own boutique, here are a few things to consider.
Finding a location
Just like any business, you want to make sure your retail location is located somewhere that’s easy for customers to get to and even see from the street. If it’s hidden, you’re never going to get traffic besides unless it’s from word of mouth. A good location is in a building, strip mall, or mall where there’s heavy traffic and you can always lure in new customers. You also want to make sure that its in good proximity to people that would shop in your specific boutique. If you’re selling high-end products, it pays to do some research when it comes to the demographics around the area in which you’re looking to settle in.
Setting up your business for taxation purposes
If you haven’t already, talk to your accountant about the new business you wish to start. Different businesses are going to be taxed differently and are also subject to different types of deductions, penalties, etc. It’s also important that you set up your company properly and legally for liability purposes. You don’t want to skip this step and find out later that you either owe a ton of money or are in trouble with the law for avoiding something as simple as paperwork and a few hours with a professional.
Hire a manager and good employees
If this is your first boutique, it’s probably going to be your baby for the first couple of years. If that’s the case, odds are you’re going to be the main manager of the shop with other hourly workers to perform duties like inventory, manning the register, and opening/closing when you can’t be there. If that’s not the case, you’re going to want to hire a manager with experience. Managing a shop is much more than ringing people up and making sure the place is kept neat. There are finances that need to be dealt with, rent to be paid, and customer complaints to be settled. It might be a good idea for you to be present in the shop for the first couple of months at minimum to make sure everything is running smoothly before you hand it over to someone else.
Creating an atmosphere for your customer
People don’t only shop repeatedly at certain stores because they sell high-quality clothes that look good on them, but they also repeat shop for the atmosphere and the customer service. When you first open a boutique, your store is probably going to be bare. It would be extremely beneficial to hire an interior designer or an outside company that specialized in designing the inside of clothing stores. The environment should match the type of clothing your selling and should also make your customers comfortable. Aside from what the shop actually looks like, you need to make sure that your employees are upbeat and always ready to help. Remember though that there’s a fine line between helpful and overwhelming. Make sure your employees greet your customer and ask if they need help. After that, just make sure they’re available to help if needed (not on their phones or hiding in the back room). It’s never fun when you have to track down an employee to find someone to open the dressing room for you.
Like stated before, opening a boutique is similar to opening up any type of retail location. While you may have to worry a little bit more about what you choose to stock, don’t forget about the operations part of the store as well. As fun as it is to own a boutique, it’s still a business and quite possibly your livelihood.