I can not believe it has been a year since I officially launched Boutique On Thirty!! For those of you who don’t know me, I went from nurse to mom to boutique owner (with a few more in between). Owning a boutique was not something I ever would have imagined doing. I was always pretty brainy and thought I’d be a nurse forever. But, healthcare takes a toll on you physically and emotionally, so when my third daughter was born and my husband started his own business, I needed a break! Being a stay at home mom for six years was a joy and a hardship all at once. I loved being with my kids for every milestone and being able to be homeroom parent and Home and School President, but it is also very lonely and sometimes defeating when the biggest task you accomplished for the day was to put on makeup!! That being said, I wouldn’t have change those years for the world!
About two years ago, when Katelyn (my youngest) was 4, I finally started making time for me. I enjoyed the little things like getting my nails done every few weeks and I made it a point to wake up and shower and get dressed every day, even if we were just going to the park. I started following a lot of influencers on Instagram and I was influenced (haha). I started buying some new beauty products they recommended. I started shopping at places other than Target or the thrift store (don’t get me wrong I still find a lot of great items at both). Basically, I started caring about how I looked again. Thinking back, I pretty much never cared a ton about how I looked. It was nice to start feeling better about myself on the inside. (Another side note: Beauty is definitely within and it does not take new clothes or makeup to make you look good. But, I was in a slump and didn’t have much I was passionate about, so beauty and fashion became my passion, which just made me feel better on the inside!)
So…May 2019 I started thinking about what I would do when Katelyn started Kindergarten in the Fall. Going back to nursing did not seem like what I really wanted to do, but I had to start contributing somehow. I was buying a lot of clothes from online boutiques that I followed and thought, “if I start my own online boutique, I could make money and always have new clothes.” I got the idea but thought I was crazy. I knew nothing about owning a business or fashion, but I was intrigued. I started looking at articles on Pinterest. (Pinterest is a wonderful way to gain information. It is absolutely amazing how much I learned about starting my business with the help of others who kindly shared!) I started playing around with some names and came up with Boutique On Thirty, almost right away. I didn’t want to use my name and if you google Chic Boutique or something along those lines, there are hundreds!! Downingtown (where I live) is a small town in Southeastern, PA. The main road running through town is Route 30. This is the same Route 30 that runs East to West from New Jersey to Oregon, pretty cool! I thought, “well that’s my goal to bring fashion to women all across the US.” So, even though I wasn’t planning on an actual shop, I can be Boutique On 30 anywhere across the US!!
Now that I had a name, I played around with some free apps to come up with a logo. Remember, this was all still some sort of wishy washy dream in my head. I used the app, ICONA, and made my logo in a matter of an hour (I was super super impressed with myself!). This was the moment I decided to run the idea by my husband. It went something like this, “Hey Zac, I’m kind of thinking I want to start an online boutique. I don’t need a ton of money, just a little bit to order a few packs of clothes.” Zac- “Okay.” Literally, that was his reaction!
The hardest part of starting up was the legal work and figuring out what I needed to file for my state. If this is something that interests you, let me know and I can definitely steer you in the right direction. I officially registered my store, got a retail license, a bank account, and placed my first order!!
I started out by ordering things that I would wear (at least I’d look good if this didn’t work out?!). I called a few girlfriends when clothes came in and we walked around Downingtown taking pictures with my cell phone. It’s funny to see some of my original pictures that I thought looked so good at the time. I learned a lot about photography this year (and I usually hire a photographer now!). It is also interesting to see the change of style just from last Fall. I was so worried about spending too much money and not selling anything last year, that I ordered things that were on sale from the season before or from vendors that were cheaper. Finding good quality clothes at affordable prices (my moto) has been one of the most difficult. I wear everything that comes in and I test it all out. There were some pieces early on that I refused to put out because I was so unhappy with quality. It was a learning curve.
I bought a Shopify domain and created my website. Shopify is very user friendly and has so many templates to create your website. I still use Shopify today.
I signed up to do a few Fall Vendor Events to get my name out and it was such a huge success, my husband and I decided this is something I should really go for!! In full disclosure, I don’t know if I would have been able to open a Brick and Mortar if the situation was different, but Zac was looking for a larger showroom for his business, Superior Custom Flooring, and we found a place that worked for both of us. My rent is very cheap (he pays most of the building) and we did all the work ourselves. I opened up my storefront, Black Friday last year! To say it has been amazing is an incredible understatement. I am having so much fun and I am really enjoying meeting so many amazing people!
To tell you everything I learned this year would take forever because I am learning everyday. Like I said, I am not an expert in fashion or in business, but I am passionate about it and that is making all the difference. The most important thing I have learned this year is that it is possible to do anything and don’t be afraid to take a leap. I still sometimes worry, what if I don’t make it, and that is always a possibility with starting a business, but I will try my hardest and luckily I didn’t take out a bunch of loans so I don’t have a ton to lose. Take that leap and you never know where you will end up!! Please email me for any questions about starting your own Online Boutique or Brick and Mortar Store, I’d love to help. firstname.lastname@example.org