| The Pom Pom Top |
So here’s my dirty, little secret: I’ve been pondering the idea of starting my own online fashion boutique. Sounds fun, right? Well even in my fantasy, I know that it’s not all fun and games. After doing some research online, all I found were technical articles about the step-by-step process you have to follow like getting licenses, creating a business plan, etc., but I wanted something a little more personal. That’s why I decided to take the initiative to interview someone with experience!
I had the honor of talking with Katie, one of the two amazing women behind Shop Fishie, which is a mother/daughter operation started in May 2013, specializing in girly, timeless attire. Here’s what she had to say:
Ali: So first off, the very idea of Shop Fishie– was it a long thought out process? An idea you always had in the back of your mind/ a life long dream?
SF: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in fashion. I would often shop at local boutiques & purchase items. After returning home, I would research the different brands in hopes of finding similar merchandise. I was disappointed when I was denied access to their websites because I didn’t have a wholesale account. About four years ago, I first introduced the idea to my mom. I knew that running an online boutique was something that I could excel in and it was something I enjoyed. For about two years, my mom said no. The timing was never quite right, we both had other obligations, etc. During my freshmen year, my friends continually raided my closet. My closet was known as the go-to closet for any occasion. When I returned home for the summer, I told my mom about this and reintroduced the idea of an online boutique. The timing was finally right, and we decided to open Shop Fishie.
Ali: What is your favorite part of owning your own boutique or business in general? Is it everything that you thought it would be?
SF: Though there are many different aspects that I love about Shop Fishie, my favorite part is seeing the clothes on the customer. Fashion is a way to express yourself, a place where you can find your confidence. Knowing that I have played a part in that is a really cool feeling.
I also love the buying aspect. Overall, this is probably the most fun. I love researching different designers and exploring new possibilities. We try to create a brand that people will connect with. Though our styles are very similar, we also try to expand our style and carry different items to appeal to all customers.
Ali: How do you host your shop and why did you decide to go this route?
SF: We use Shopify, which is an online e-commerce company. We host through them, and they make it really easy for us. We decided to use a platform to host our site because I wasn’t familiar with all of the coding and steps for hosting online. We didn’t want to focus on the technological aspects of the website, we wanted to focus on our products.
Ali: In regards to picking out clothing for the store, how does that work? And how do you make your selection?
SF: My mom & I are responsible for the buying. We contact different designers and brands to gain access to their inventory. From there, we make selections based on a variety of things, such as price, style, color, and the other inventory we currently carry. I often run things by my friends to get their opinion on items. Sometimes, I think something is really cute, but my friends might not think so. It’s really important that I receive feedback from other sources to ensure that I’m making good choices. Our target audience is young women between the ages of 16-30, so being apart of that demographic is really helpful. I can run things by my friends and get a feel for what the response may be from the target.
Ali: Shop Fishie is run by a mother/ daughter team. Do you ever feel that work affects your relationship or vice versa (your relationship affecting work)?
SF: Not at all! My mom & I have always been best friends. She’s a great boss and we both have different strengths. I primarily focus on the buying and the marketing aspect of it. I know what the target audience is interested in, and I’m aware of how to effectively reach them. Based on that, I create content for our social media outlets.
My mom is in charge of the books and the shipping. Math has never been my strong point. My mom’s aware of this & therefore, she’s in charge of the finances. Also, she does all of the shipping. This is especially important for me because I’m in college. I don’t have the space to keep all the clothes up here, nor do I have the time to manage the shipping.
Ali: What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own online boutique?
SF: Running an online boutique is fun and exciting, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it. Researching your target audience and ways to effectively reach them is key to success. There are tons of online boutiques that carry similar merchandise. It’s imperative that you have something about your online boutique that stands out from the competition. Building a strong brand is necessary for the boutique, so I would recommend researching different techniques to create and build a brand that effectively engages with the audience.
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A huge shout-out and thanks to Katie for allowing me to do this interview. Be sure to take a peak at their website. They have so many cute, unique, and affordable pieces!