Seattle Fashionista – A Profile in Online Education

Kristin Connell keeps pretty busy these days. As the manager for Shoefly, an upscale Seattle shoe boutique, she spends between forty and fifty hours a week in the shop–that is, when she’s not planning special events or jetting off to Los Angeles for a week of meetings with wholesalers.

While she values her professional experience, Kristin also knows the importance of a solid education. In order to advance her career in the world of fashion, she’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in fashion design. As many working students know, making a school schedule dovetail with professional responsibilities can be tough. For Kristin, the solution includes participation in online coursework. I sat down with her in her Capitol Hill apartment to get the 411 on her online fashion design class.

Mr. Smith: Your fashion design program includes both online coursework and classroom work, so you have the best of both worlds. What are you currently studying?

KC: I’m taking a few courses, but the online course is fashion sketching.

Mr. Smith: Which involves what?

KC: It’s the start of creating a piece or line of attire. You develop a basic visual concept–a sketch–for a piece of clothing. From there you can draft patterns and actually create the piece.

Mr. Smith: Could you describe your online interface?

KC: It’s basically an all-in-one website. There’s a place for you to get assignments, a place for class discussions, a link to lectures and research materials, and the grade book, which is where you can check your grades after you turn in a new assignment. That part’s helpful, because you can monitor your progress daily.

Mr. Smith: How often does the material update?

KC: Well, the syllabus pre-established at the beginning of the quarter. But the teacher can post assignments as often as he likes. The discussion boards are constantly updating, throughout the duration of the class.

Mr. Smith: Could you describe a week of coursework?

KC: The lesson plan follows the textbook, so we do a chapter each week. The teacher posts a reading assignment, discussion questions, and homework. We use Adobe Illustrator to design fashion sketches, and turn it in as an email attachment when we’re done.

Mr. Smith: How would you compare your online class to a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom?

KC: It’s actually more strenuous. It’s not like a normal class, where just showing up gets you a participation grade. The onus is on you to participate heavily. For example, with the class discussion board, you have to post often and your posts have to be insightful. I got nabbed on that a couple of times.

Mr. Smith: And compared to traditional classroom, how much classmate interaction is there?

KC: Well, of course you don’t get face time, but you have about as much interaction. It was a requirement for us. With the discussion boards, each student has to respond to the teacher’s question, and then to at least two classmates per posting to receive credit.

Mr. Smith: What’s your favorite thing about your online coursework?

KC: Well, while you do have deadlines, you can still work at your own pace. Even though we had weekly deadlines, I was able to turn in my work on the first day of the week.

Mr. Smith: How about your least favorite thing?

KC: To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of my professor, but that really didn’t have anything to do with the online format of the class.

In addition to her online coursework, Kristin also attends a four-hour pattern-drafting course each week (the brick and mortar being necessary for hands-on participation). While her schedule is tight, she remains determined: “I work as hard as I do because I know it’s worth it,” she says. “I think it’s important to have goals and to make a point of pursuing them.”

Well spoken, I think. After all, if–as Thomas Paine once observed, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly,” then busy professionals can look to Kristin and others like her, for a model. After all, Kristin and her fellow students may be determined, but they aren’t all that unusual. As far busy professionals who moonlight as students go, Kristin’s really a textbook example.

3 Key Steps in Opening a Boutique

Are you interested in opening a boutique of your own? If you’re strongly considering investing in a clothing business, you need to remember the 3 most important key steps in starting your own clothing boutique. Though opening a boutique may seem a lot easier than maintaining a food business for example, you still need to educate yourself on how you’ll be able to manage a boutique store properly.

If you want to be able to start a clothing store boutique of your own, the first thing that you need to do is to decide on a niche. Focus on a specific area that you know you can be passionate for so that you won’t easily get bored managing the business. Having a niche will also help you devise a more effective marketing plan that is directed towards a specific target market.

Know your target market

Once you’ve decided on a niche, the next thing that you need to look into is your target market. By studying your key demographic, you’ll be able to plan out your products and your marketing schemes in a way that it is directly focused at them. You should also do some research on the amount of money that members from your target market are willing to spend on the items that your store will carry. By doing so, you’ll have an idea on what your price points should be.

Invest in marketing

Although there are a lot of first time entrepreneurs who tend to overlook marketing, you need to be ready to dedicate your efforts into the cause so that you’ll be able to spread the word about your new business venture. Marketing is an important aspect in opening a boutique so don’t forget to prepare your marketing plan.

Boutique – Online Business Vs Retail Shopping

Have you tried traditional means of selling with little to no success? Do
you have a product driven, home based business that you would like to grow
nationally or even internationally? Are you unsure how to successfully
advertise your web site on the Internet? Does your web site get limited
traffic? Have you been a vendor at various boutiques but want the
continual yearly income that is generated from your loyal customer base?

Retail shopping has been the general source of selling and purchasing
products for decades. With the expansion of the Internet and other various
creative avenues, business owners have been able to grow their business
substantially in less time. Boutiques that have a physical location have
been popular over the last 15 to 20 years. They are extremely enticing to
the growing number of women who enjoy scrapbooking, home decor, holiday
crafts, gift ideas and much more.

Listed below are 8 reasons why an online boutique could increase sales and
grow your business.

1. Year round income: Not only would you have a physical location for your
customers during various times of the year at boutiques, but they would be
able to easily continue to purchase your items year round.

2. It will bring shoppers to you: Retail stores spend hundreds or thousands
of dollars marketing their business. By advertising your online store when
you are a vendor at a boutique, your customers will have an incentive to
purchase additional products later.

3. Linking web sites: If a vendor from a boutique has a web site, the
online boutique can link to the vendor’s web site. This will generate
traffic to the vend’s web site thereby gaining exposure and sales.

4. Reclaiming old customers: For customers who have not attended a boutique
for years, they could look online to see what is available and either come
back to the boutique or shop on line.

5. Extra income without extra setups and tear downs: Physical boutiques
can be a successful means of establishing and growing a business. It takes
time and effort to set up and take down a booth each show. Once a vendor is
joined into an online boutique, it stays available to the customer night and
day without much added effort.

6. Not enough online boutiques available: A study recently done found that
70% of online shoppers would like to purchase more boutique like items.
There are very few on line boutique sites available.

7. Substantial growth: A person can grow their business without travel
expenses by selling online. National and International growth is possible.

8. Increase sells up to 70%: Some of the most successful business owners
contribute their success to selling online.

9. Eliminating cost of rental space: The average of cost of a rental space
at a virtual boutique is around $125.00. This is usually for a 3 day
exposure time. An online boutique is day and night, everyday, for a minimal
monthly fee.

It is rare today for a business not to have a web site. If done correctly,
web sites can be an invaluable tool for any business owner. The perfect
solution for businesses that do not have a web site themselves, however, is
the ability to tap into the online boutique web site. It is critical to be
educated and informed on the latest marketing and sales tools available.
The competition can be overwhelming without education and progressive
action. Not only will online boutiques become a fun and easy way for people
to shop, they will become a lucrative source of income for many vendors
wanting to expand their business.