Do you love fashion? Keep up with the latest trends and hottest designers? Is buying clothes your passion? If so, you may dream of owning your own boutique.
Here are some of the details of this business:
What you’ll do:
You buy product and resell it to your customers. Boutiques can be located in malls or as standalone stores. Your boutique can focus on as specific a niche as you want. You can sell shoes, accessories, party clothes, handbags, sportswear, work apparel, or any combination that you and your customers like. Other boutique-like options are one-price stores, uniform shops, bridal shops, children’s boutiques, an in-home boutique and even consignment or second-hand stores. The choice is yours.
What you need to know:
You will need to know fashion, of course. Not only what is “hot” but also what your customers want. The cutting edge may be a little too sharp for some locales. If your store is in a “soccer mom” neighbourhood, you’ll have to have inventory that appeals to soccer moms and not nightclub divas. If you are in an edgy urban area, you’ll need hipper items. Check out other boutiques and department stores in the area, too. You need to know who your competition is and what they are doing.
You also need excellent sales skills. A boutique owner relies on repeat business and making sure your customers love what they buy is essential.
Basic business skills are another must-have. You will need to know how to price your product and how to display your product. You will need to know how and when to purchase what items, and how to do inventory. You may need to know labour laws if you hire people to help you. Basic business accounting knowledge is also important. Even if you hire an accountant, you need to be able to check your books and know if they are right.
How to Get Started:
Working in retail is great experience, particularly if you can get the manager or owner to help you learn the ropes. Experience and a strong background in basic business skills will give you a head start once you decide to open your own boutique.
Scout locations in your area, check prices for leasing store space, and find out what kind of permits and licenses are required. You will need a resale license, too.
You’ll also want to find vendors for the kind of products you want to sell. Check out their wholesale pricing and decide if you can add a mark-up and make a profit. Then, you will want to do a business plan, particularly if you need additional financing. Make sure you have enough money for marketing activities.
How You’ll Make Money:
You make money by buying your product at wholesale prices and reselling them at a profit. Market conditions are especially important to your success. (For example, an area with high unemployment, or businesses moving out might not be able to support your business.)
Once you have armed yourself with the knowledge and resources you need and are ready to start your own boutique, here’s what you’ll need:
· Business and Resale Licenses, and business insurance
· Business cards and any marketing collateral you choose
· Location, lease agreement, utilities, etc.
· Store signage
· Product to sell
· Racks, hangers, and other display hardware
· Cash registers & paraphernalia
· Sales counters
· Dressing rooms
· Shopping bags
· Credit card merchant status (check with your bank for info)
· Business checking account
Owning your own boutique can be a very satisfying business. Like most businesses, it has its drawbacks--the hours can be long, business cycles can hurt your cash flow, and some customers can be a pain. And, in retail, you'll need a plan for curtailing shoplifting. But, if fashion is your passion, having your own boutique may be just the answer for you!