In the late summer of 2018, I decided to take a step toward a goal I’d had for a long time. I’ve always wanted to own a clothing boutique. I can remember dreaming about it when I was a little girl. I’ve always felt that women should feel beautiful and special no matter their station in life. I wanted to be able to offer quality boutique clothing at affordable prices. With the prevalence of e-commerce and the shift to online shopping, I researched how I could pull it off without too much of an initial investment. I have two kiddos of my own, after all. I researched drop shipping and quickly realized that was not the business model I was after, and I moved onto physical inventory. I had dream boards and vision boards all the like. I called my best gal pal and told her what I was up to. I knew she might bite at an opportunity to own a boutique but I wasn’t completely certain. But, that night after a million questions and a ton of google searches, we formed The Gypsy Debutante Clothing Co., LLC. Don’t get too hung up on the name, I can tell you about that another time.
Shortly after we visited various apparel shows across the country. We purchased our first batch of inventory and created a website. Luckily, I’ve been in marketing business a very long time and if there is one thing I know how to do, that’s promote a business whether it is online or a physical location.
I learned everything I could about social media marketing for retail stores and driving web traffic. I also learned the value and frustration of building a brand from ground zero. We spent 24 months building our brand and curating collections of clothing solely online while creating a following and it was hard but very rewarding. Make no mistake, it’s still hard but remains rewarding as I’m sure all of you who own your own companies can understand.
In walks the year 2020 and everything changed. I don’t need to say much more than that, but it’s important to know that I never planned on having a physical storefront. That was never in our business plan. However, 2020 boomed for us. Women couldn’t shop in stores and they flocked to our site buying clothes faster than we could get them from our vendors. It was nuts. I never saw it coming. Thankfully, we had built great relationships with designers over the last couple of years and they’d ship clothing as fast as they could for us.
It was September of 2020 when the opportunity to open a brick and mortar store presented itself. I’d been successfully building an e-commerce brand for two years and was never planning on having a storefront.
For those that don’t know me that well, my background is in marketing and advertising. I talk to local, regional and national brands every day as the publisher of Charlotte Media Group. I consult with them on marketing and advertising and what makes the best sense for their market segment. It’s not easy growing a business and getting traffic through your doors. Believe me, I know first-hand. Purchasing and tracking inventory, supply chain issues, logistical problems, stale inventory, not enough inventory, how to manage expenses, where to spend money on marketing and the list goes on. But, these are things I am intimately familiar with. I live it daily. Whether it is an e-commerce model or a storefront, I have a real understanding as a business owner and operator of what marketing works for retail and what doesn’t. And, because of that, it’s lent itself to some success in this retail market space. I take my experience as a business owner and apply it to every single client I talk to here at CMG. Some companies don’t need print advertising. I get that. Thankfully, that’s not all we do here at CMG. Sure, we operate three of Charlotte’s largest newspapers, but we also have an in-house digital team and social marketing experts. In order to gain customers, it takes a lot of marketing efforts and there is no one out there who understands that more than I do.
So, I opened a brick and mortar store in 2020, what was I thinking? Here’s the answer. We took advantage of market conditions. Commercial real estate is changing due to COVID. Women were already shopping online with our brand but craved an in-person experience and having a physical space allows us to fulfill that need. Is it a risk? Sure. But, if there is one thing I’m willing to bet on …it’s women shopping.
If you want to learn more about how CMG helps businesses grow visit www.charlottemediagroup.org for more information. Or, if you’d like to chat with me directly, you can message me on that site, as well.
Happy New Year!