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.

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.

How to Start an Online Dog Boutique – Avoid Getting Ripped Off!

Starting an online dog boutique is a fun, exciting, and promising business venture for any dog lover. Creating a business around one’s passion is the first step towards success. Since most dog owners love their pets (and tend to spend a great deal of money on them) it only stands to reason that at some point, the owner contemplates the thought that perhaps running an online dog boutique would be a way to escape the rat race of their traditional job, replace lost income, or perhaps supplement their retirement. While all of these intentions are fine and well, the reality is that having a profitable online dog boutique requires much more than a love for animals. Often times, this is the first experience at an online business and also the first step into the pet industry, which is ultra competitive. This combination, unfortunately, often spells financial disaster for the individual stepping into uncharted waters.

Before I continue, I must clarify my qualifications in writing this article. While many who write such “advice” type articles have never really done what it is the recommend, I on the other hand, come from a position of experience. I own and operate not only a popular online dog boutique, but also a bricks and mortar storefront selling the same product line. I have seen the good, bad, and ugly. I have helped hundreds of individuals get started and I have witnessed incredible financial loss by people who refused to follow my advice. Regardless of your industry, any successful entrepreneur will tell you that a great deal of their success was due to the fact that they mentored with someone in their industry, followed their advice, and walked a similar path. So, with that in mind coupled with the fact that my company has been around for 6 years, I do offer a level of credibility to the reader.

The biggest pitfall that I see people falling into right now is being charged WAY too much for their website design and many of these design companies are over-promising and under-delivering. With the horrible state of the economy these past few years, literally millions of people are turning to the internet as a way of creating home based income. In response to this influx of internet “newbies”, web designers are flooding the scene trying to grab a piece of the pie. Knowing that they are dealing with an online novice, they can prey on the inexperienced entrepreneur. More often than not, 3-4 months later the boutique owner still does not have a functioning website and they have invested a small fortune, often $10,000 or more! Frustrating to say the least.

The second biggest problem I see with the new online dog boutique owner is that once their site is up and running, they literally have NO knowledge of how to market the site and get traffic. As a result, they again fall victim to marketing companies out there who are also aware of this situation and they end up spending hundreds of dollars each month on marketing methods that are ineffective and do not drive enough traffic to their website. In essence, they go from the frying pan into the fire and find themselves quickly out of business and out of savings!

The dog industry is unique in many ways, and although the web designers and marketing “experts” will claim to know what to do to ensure online success, the reality is that most are just looking to make a sale and have little experience creating successful online dog boutiques. Having a pretty site with nice products is nowhere near enough to be profitable. So, having seen the winners and the losers in this industry, here is my advice…

#1… Find a mentor who has experience in the industry. If you are going to take someone’s advice, make sure that it is someone who has actually “walked the walk”. You may have to pay something to get this kind of advice, but it is usually priceless experience talking.

#2… PLEASE don’t build an online dog boutique unless you know how to promote the site online and you have a budget for marketing education and training. It’s not an easy thing to do and many before you have failed. Online marketing is far different than your standard advertising methods and if people can not find you, you’re dead. But, if you take the time to actually invest in your education and learn effective marketing techniques and strategies, you’ll be ahead of 99% of the other website owners out there. Plus, this education can transfer beyond the dog industry and serve you in any business in the future.