Retail 101- How to Open a Fashion Boutique

Dreaming of opening a fashion boutique? Well, I hope you are, because opening one can be a lot of fun. I’m Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail, and I’m going to share with you the process that I take all of my clients who I have helped open up fashion boutiques. Now, when it comes to starting on the concept of what it is you want to do, I’m asking you to spend a lot of time thinking about the vision, what you want to evoke in your potential customers, and really, why it is that you feel you’re so qualified to open up this retail boutique. Now, that essence that you’re going to be communicating will resonate throughout your customer’s’ experience, both in the store, as they touch the product, as they get your marketing. So having a real concrete idea of the concept and vision is the most important thing.

Now once you’ve nailed that, you then want to move on to financing. I know that tends to be a scary topic but oh so important for the success of your business. What kind of business model are you going to have in your boutique? Are you going to be doing sale or return, which is really the updated version of saying consignment? Or are you going to be reselling products from other vendors, brands that you love? Or maybe you’re going to be sourcing from other brands that are smaller, right? Maybe your whole point of view is buy small quantities from lots of different “Made in the USA” brands and repeat replenishment often as things sell out. So determining your business model is really going to help you when it comes to predicting what the sales flow is gonna look like, what your margins are going to look like, and really how much money you’re going to need to sustain that first 9 to 12 months when you’re really getting a good idea of what your customers want.

Now, a very important thing to keep in mind. When you go out to launch a store, you have a hypothesis, an idea, of what it is you think your customers want. Over the course of those 6, 9, 12 months, you’re actually testing that hypothesis to see how well aligned you are. So when it comes to things like buying inventory or looking at sales, and what kind of vendors you’re gonna bring in, I would say keep your eye on very low minimums. Those minimums that you’re going to be placing really equate to the amount of inventory that you have in your boutique. So it’s really critical and essential to think about what that merchandising assortment looks like.

Now, moving on from this financial stuff. When you’re launching a boutique, your marketing, your communication, your partners, all the people who you’re going to get involved to bring traffic to your store, the people who you’re going to get to actually support you, talk about you on social media, super important to figure out who they are even before you open doors. You have to make sure you have people on your side.

Now, a lot of the work we’ve talked about is really foundation, right, fundamental stuff. Once you’ve figured out what that looks like, move on to the location part of launching your boutique. Now, there are two ways to think about this. One is really, do I wanna go somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic and really be the first? You know, there’s a lot to be said about businesses that are the first in their community, or the first in their neighborhoods. However, while that real estate might be cheap, you may not get a lot of traffic and it might be a few years before you start to see people come in. The alternative to that is getting a space that is going to be around other brands that are similar in your demographic and that are catering to your customer. Now, the rents might be a little bit higher because of course that neighborhood has already been established, but you’ll be sure to get the foot traffic and be able to get the customers that you want in the door.

So again guys, so much stuff that goes into launching a boutique, but really, the important pieces are the concept, the vision, your sales strategy, how you get people in the door, and ultimately where you have it. You get a good business model, keep that dream alive, and I look forward into walking into your boutique one day. Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what model you are going forward with and come and find me. I’m on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. In fact, I am where you are.