For All Women

Small Business Journey August 2, 2016 17:32

My neighbor came in my store yesterday and told me her retail business is closing.

She then said she felt very bad about herself. She had never not succeeded in something in 35 years.

I felt  for her. This weighed on my mind all day. I passed the story onto a friend of mine.

Her reply was so simple. “That’s really good for 35 years”!


Her spin on this really made me think. Yes, it is really good. In fact, it is a great record!  Many times when things aren’t going our way, we forget everything we have ever accomplished and hyper focus on the present. We only see our failures and forget to backtrack at our record of achievements.


How we have become successful in the first place has been a chain of events, stepping stones and building tools and knowledge. Even if my neighbor has to close her business, she has to remember one thing. She built her business, ran her business and it was at one time successful!

She can do it again! If she chooses not to start another business and find employment, that is o.k.!


This is not a failure. She is not a failure. This is a process that we all are all going through. What comes out the other side is a risk in all entrepreneurships but the value we obtain from the journey I think is well worth it!

Bigotry in Retail July 9, 2016 07:00

 

In lieu of this weeks events, I am sadly reflecting on our society. Everything seems to be getting worse. No solutions seem to be on the horizon.


I started questioning myself as a person and as a small business owner. Am I a bigot? I don’t think so. I honestly think most of us would answer the question this way. Not me! No way!

I am heartbroken. All of America is heartbroken. As a small retail business owner, I have always been fair to all that have walked through my doors. Years ago, I owned a women’s clothing store in a small town in California. I had a regular customer that had OCD so bad she would lay  my clothes on the carpeted floor before making a decision to buy something. If no one else was in my store, I would let her do this.


Customers coming into my store that are from all walks of life. I am on the edge of a very Tony neighborhood and a very poor neighborhood. I have extremely affluent women coming in, as well as maids that care for their households. I have Judges, Doctors, CEO's, Writers, Artists, Care Givers, Mothers, daughters....All races, all level of income. I discount prices so everyone  can buy something. I believe everyone should enjoy my space, enjoy the magic I offer them. 


Bigotry comes in all shapes and sizes. Color, sex, financial demographics, and mental stability. Sometimes it takes patience and strength not to prejudge and allow the customer, the human being to shine thru. Bigotry is judging someone for being different than you. I have to be honest. I have caught myself on more than one occasion. I have prejudged and was so wrong.

Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs July 5, 2016 16:00

Being a Baby Boomer owning her own small business has massive time limitations. I fantasize what my business could be if only I had more life in front of me. It is a real issue. Sometimes I have ideas I would love to pursue and I often feel so limited because of father time. Don’t get me wrong. I still think ahead and have my plans, but I am a realist. This is an issue for baby boomer entrepreneurs. I like to keep my mind sharp and have something to look forward to, helping my business grow. Before I launched my eccommerce site last year, I discussed working on my site with an manufacturer of one of my clothing lines I sell. He actually told me not to do it. 

"It is too difficult and I really should be just a neighborhood store”.

Obviously this prompted me to work on my site even harder and it was the best thing I did for my business! If I limit myself  because of my age, I will fail. I look at this as the next chapter in my life and am learning, enjoying and driving myself more now than when I was younger.


‘Citing research from a Kauffman report, “The Future of Entrepreneurship: Millennials and Boomers Chart the Course for 2020,............

the percentage of firms created by Americans ages 55 to 64 grew more than any other age demographic, up 11 percent to 25.8 percent in 2014 versus 14.8 percent in1996 .’


This makes me so happy. Since I am a Baby Boomer, the accumulative talent and know how has helped me unarguably in my business. At first I surprised myself at times. “How do I know this?” “ When did I learn this?” Ahhh, the positive attributes of aging!!!


I will keep going, driven because anddespite my Baby Boomer years. I don’t care and neither should any of us.


Read Forbes article for more insight.

http://bit.ly/29i9ZtQ

Show Our Weaknesses June 30, 2016 17:34

 


I don’t spill my heart out to open myself up to criticism. I don’t show my vulnerabilities to give the

impression that I don’t know what I am doing. I am a wide open book offering a platform for others to pore out their guts. We can hopefully all accept the obstacles our human frailties build around our work selves. Running a small business can force us to hide behind our business. We offer our business persona to our customers, to our associates and network contacts. Then we close up shop and let our hair down.

The charm of small business is the person behind the business. For me, sterile environments

are not at all enticing. Stores that show how shiny and feng shui they are bore me. I love going into small businesses on my street and meet the owners. They have hopes and dreams and problems and fears just like I do. Sometimes we commiserate about how bad our sales were or questioning why the street is shut down again. We share. We are intimate.

Today, I screwed up on facebook. Someone typed to me “christine rather than correcting yourself you can just delete your erroneous comment.”


Firstly, I thought it rather kind of him to mention this to me in light of some smart alac statement I sent his way. Secondly, I didn’t understand why I would do this. I made a mistake. I am not ashamed. Why delete  it? I learned from it and maybe others can learn from it as well.

This is my point. Honesty is strength. Honesty is knowledge. Honesty can get you into trouble but I don’t care.



#RetailMogul June 15, 2016 19:55

OMG! I just got two orders on my website today! In one day!!! Last week I received 2 order back to back. OMG!

 I am Tory Burch!!!!

 
My enthusiasm is so warranted because after a year working on my site, I have had just a dribble of purchases. Yes, with the hundreds of hours put in on this site, all I have to show for my sweat and tears is not too impressive. I am a patient person. I knew before I started  this huge job it would take time. Especially since I never had the money to invest.
 
On the plus side, I know my local customers browse through my site. I track them after I send out a Mailchimp and watch numbers skyrocket. Yes, that makes me feel so good! I also know my customers show up in my brick and mortar and buy directly. I know my hard work is worth it. I just want to start getting orders from beyond my little neighborhood.
 
Last week I received a phone call from the middle of the country. A woman was trying to place an order but my 20% discount pop up was not working. All this time I never double checked this capture. I took her order over the phone, thanked her for the info and went immediately to my site. Yup! It was not working. Not since November.
 
This is the second huge boo boo I have made (that I am aware of)  I am darn sure this has really affected my orders. This was a biggie!

So I fixed it.

Within 24 hours I had 2 orders. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I will let you know in a month if I am getting really rich!
 
I get so excited when I fix something and try to ignore the reality of the issue….All the sales I lost!
 
According to Shopify, 67.45% carts are abandoned and not necessarily because the customer didn’t want to purchase.
 
So, lastly, this motivated me to finally set up an abandoned cart email. I choose a really simple one from Abandon App. Free and good for now.
 
Next I will work on an incredible abandoned cart email template….sooner than later this time.
I will stay steady on track. I will be a

#RetailMogul :)


What We Accompish June 13, 2016 17:36

I spent the morning in a showroom ordering clothing for the fall season. A very nice woman owns the business and is always a lot of fun spending a few hours with her. We end up generally talking about business, how slow the clothing industry has become and then center our conversation with our online work.


We are both learning the ropes at the same time. I see a mannequin standing in the corner of the showroom, in front of a white paper backdrop and a light umbrella aimed, ready for the next shoot. The paper is falling off the frame it is taped to.There is an intern trying to retape the  paper backdrop but is fumbling and needs assistance. My store opens in 50 minutes and it is a 45 minute subway ride, if I am lucky. I know everything she is going through and how overwhelming the process is. I want to stay and help.


We are just two women in this city, single handedly and sometimes desperately trying to be a one man band….I will rephrase...a one woman band.


We discuss how often to send out email campaigns: use Constant Contact or MailChimp? Although she is a wholesaler and I am a retailer our needs are the same. Trying to lure our customers to buy our product.


We discuss shooting for our websites. It has become a separate job and a new career. We now have to do everything. Lighting is the Bitch! Staying up all night downloading product after working all day in our business.


We both keep working, keep learning, often  too busy to recognize what we are accomplishing.

She invigorates me I feel a camaraderie. It is a nice feeling.


Smarter Than You Think May 18, 2016 09:30

How intelligent are my customers? I have been debating this question for the last two years. I admit to a wee bit of a problem with my customer demographic and the plethora of social media available to dazzle them with.


The core age range of my customer base is from 45 to 68 years old, 99.9% being female. According to all marketing statistics, Facebook and Pinterest is number one with this group. Should I really bother with other social media platforms?


Honestly, up until a year ago, I was feeding into the confines of pigeon holing my customers. I know I don’t have to do it all; I don’t have the time and I am totally aware of the parameters.


Then, something really amazing happened!


I had two women visit my store. One was quite elderly. Probably in her late 80’s.

We all had a nice time and as the women were leaving, the elderly women whipped out her cell phone and ordered an Uber.

I say what?

She made her way out to the street, poked at her smartphone and started tracking her Uber car. “There he is...Henry is two blocks away!”


So, this is an almost 90 year old woman, with a smart phone, tracking an Uber car!  Really? Should I “dummy” down my customers? Maybe I should respect their capabilities and offer them more than Pinterest and Facebook!


Older woman actually can work social media….they Can use Instagram, they can use Twitter, they can use Linkedin….They Can!


Learn As I Go May 13, 2016 11:38

 

Owner of Marjory Warren Boutique Chris Warren


From my own point of view, curated from my own experiences, 'Learning As I Go' is an offering of information I have gathered, tasks I have conquered and sometimes talents I have excelled in.


My Little Business Bio

I own a very small women’s clothing store on the Upper East Side bordering Harlem. I took the business over from retiring family member Marjory Warren, lost the lease, relocated, Hurricane Sandy almost did me in, landlord was the Biggest Ass in the whole wide world, relocated again and am slowly building my business again.

 

What I have learned.

  • A business background is a must. If you don’t have one, take classes
  • Be flexible. Life and business are always fluid
  • Nothing is free. If you ask for help, be ready to offer something in return….even if it is someday.
  • Don’t lie to yourself. Own up!
  • Educate yourself constantly. Absorb information wherever you can.
  • If you don’t have the money learn how to do it yourself to the best of your abilities.
  • There is no such word as Can’t!
  • Just because it has been done doesn’t mean you can’t do it better........

Three Season Retail May 2, 2016 18:38

                                             Windy day for Retail

This is the new word on the street….my street….in my store…..

Three Season Inventory 

OK, it is three words. I am reaching out to all the clothing retail businesses. Is this crazy weather affecting your seasonal inventory buying?

A Few years back, I started taking notice of “three season inventory”,as I call it. My store sort of did this buying plan to help stretch out inventory dollars, but now it was rising to another challenge.

 The challenge is our weather.

My customers are making an effort to stretch their clothing wardrobes over two or three seasons, squeezing more value from their dollar. What I hear from my clientele is, ‘ I really don’t need a specific seasonal wardrobe anymore’. This is such an important statement! We are all keeping  different weights of clothing in our closets to accommodate our Bipolar weather. I was so mad at myself just 10 days ago , because I had stored my winter gloves and I my hands were freezing. Maybe next year, I won’t even pack them up until I want to go to the beach!

Obviously, this is greatly affecting the buying patterns of consumers.They are not rushing out to buy a nice summer wardrobe because they are guessing, just like myself, what and how much they will need and wear.

A few  years ago,  I started a little snooping around. I prowled other stores and noticed their early winter inventory was being offered in lighter fabrics. How clever of them! Now I know, in the US, there are two different weather-focused consultancies, Planalytics and Weather Trends International. Their job is to determine how our warming weather is affecting retail sales. It doesn’t look too good. Not for retailers! Consumers, on the other hand, are getting use to marked down items because stores are stuck with huge amounts of inventory.

Honestly, I don’t know how many times I could not get a customer to try on a winter garment

 because it didn't feel like winter.

"When consumers are walking across the mall parking lots... without coats and sometimes in shorts and short sleeves, browsing for winter apparel just isn't top of mind," said Scott Bernhardt, president of Planalytics, a consultancy that helps companies understand the impact of weather on their businesses. CNN Money

As a small boutique owner trying to make a living selling women’s clothing, I have become acutely aware of the this crazy weather. It is now the beginning of May and I had to put a sweater and scarf over the linen dress in the window, again.

I attend the apparel show this week in NYC and place my orders for Fall/Winter. I know ahead of time, I will be looking only for Cotton Sweaters, very few coats, and colors that can be spread over a few seasons.

It is getting a little tricky out here in retail land.


Earth Day April 22, 2016 18:26

                                  

I had no idea Earth Day started in 1970. I am sure the consensus back in the day, those initiating this incredible beginning were said to be a bunch of tree huggers, or called what my grandfather cried out when reading the newpaper...."Goddamn Hippie Freaks!"

 It is 46 years later.

Earth Day, as of last year, joins in to celebrate the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. As of today, 155 Delegates from 155 countries have signed on to be part of this United Nations  incentive.


Over the years, the indoctrination of this mindset has made me acutely aware of the state of our beautiful planet. I was going to write, 'I try my best to help in my day to day life', but I must retract.Taking inventory of my actionable undertakings, sadly I have to admit, I do not try my best. Sure, I recycle. Sure, I told my landlord the bathroom faucet is leaking. He has yet to fix it. I shut the bathroom door so I don’t hear the drip. I reuse my plastic bags I fill my groceries with. I constantly forget to bring my own shopping bag. I do refuse to use any styrofoam. I know that is a biggie! I even called a vendor offering my advice to stop shipping their sustainable products in bubble wrap and then posting the picture on social media. I am so good at telling others what they should and should not do! Maybe someone should point out to me to stop using all forms of cleaning solutions, eat organic food and refrain from eating my special cheeseburger so  we can reduce the number of farting cows on this planet, subsequently reducing the size of numerous ozone layer holes. I have yet to go to a rally, join a Meetup group that picks up garbage on a Sunday morning or even keep a steady eye on the achievements all these wonderful tree huggers are accomplishing!

Now that I am older I worry about the planet for my kids and my grandchildren. I think we all do. I take notice now of emerging generations taking on this worry with sincerity, clarity and massive determination. They get it! They get what most of us did not at their age. Thank God!....Better yet, Thank Earth!


My intern, alongside her peers, created an Earth Day Celebration at their school. I was proud to be a small part of it. I am  in awe of their initiative. It was a success and everyone had big smiles on their youthful faces at the end of the long Earth Day. A great sign for the future of our planet because they are the future of our planet!


After reading over this piece, I have made a promise to myself. I will bring a shopping bag next time I buy groceries and buy eco friendly trash bags. I will stop using bleach and make an effort to find an eco friendly replacement.  I will make another call to my landlord about the leaky faucet.

I cannot make promises about my special cheeseburger. Maybe next year I will be ready to give up cow……...


My Mother's Jewelry Box March 19, 2016 07:52

     My Mother's Jewelry Box

When scouting for vintage jewelry, I am always reminded of my mother’s jewelry box. Pieces that she owned were collected from her youthful days in the 1950’s and /or past on from her mother. I feel comfort in revisiting these pieces and enjoy the fact that so many women adore and respect what these artifacts signify.

One of my favorite past times is curating vintage jewelry. I can understand how collectors can become hoarders. Just look at the tables of jewelry at flea markets and vintage stores. It is hard to pass up a great deal and a beautiful piece. I really struggle with walking away.

I have been educating myself on the history of vintage jewelry this past year. Fashion combined with culture and history is always fascinating. Coco Chanel lead the way for costume jewelry during the 1920’s. Thanks to her brazen drippings of aesthetic and stylish pieces, costume jewelry became mainstream with women on the street to Hollywood ‘s Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford.

The middle-class could now collect an assortment of costume jewelry. This allowed a shift from fashion accessories symbolizing a family's heritage and wealth to affordable jewelry that allowed women to express their style and taste within their budget.

A part of me is that same little girl looking in my mother’s jewelry box when I examine the tables of jewelry at flea markets. I just want to play dress up, again. Thank you vintage jewelry!

Body Stylist by Chris December 9, 2015 15:30