Starting a Retail Business While Being Busy Moms
In December of 2011, My mother in law Judy welcomed twin boys to her family while at the same time I was in the hospital on bed rest awaiting my 2nd baby. After mom and I got use to having 3 little boys that were only 2 months apart and juggling our lifes and work schedules, we started wanting bigger things. I blame a lack of sleep for this one because that’s the only thing that makes sense as to why new moms would want more work!
Mom retired from Nike shortly after Carson and Eliott were born and she took a trip to California to visit some friends. While she was down there, a small baby boutique in Vista Beach caught her eye and she just couldn’t shake it. Upon coming home she had this excitement and big idea of opening her own baby boutique and talked to me about. For a few months we discussed location, brands, do we make our own line of clothing, how do we find funding.... it all just piled up and we soon we got overwhelmed and put the idea on the shelf.
For years this idea would pop back up as mom would say “I just want to open my own baby boutique”. Little did she know, I was keeping my eye out constantly on new brands, ethical practices, trends in the baby and children’s fashion industry and more. Finally in 2016 mom found out that there was a Fashion District in LA where they had a few Markets throughout the year where business would come to meet with brand reps and place orders after feeling fabrics, getting to know manufacturing and all the behind the scene stuff. Again, it was just an idea or fun new step towards “maybe someday” owning our own store.
October 3rd of 2016 I asked my husband and my financial adviser to come to moms to just answer a few questions for us regarding starting a new business. While we picked his brain and asked simple questions like “What do we need to open a business bank account?”, I was sitting behind moms laptop registering our name with the state like he said we would need to, getting our business tax identification number and pulling flights for the LA Market which was only 2 weeks away. That was the day Le D Bug Boutique became real. Mom just laughed when I told her “Ok! We are business owners!!”.
We flew to LA and felt so excited to finally be there and meeting all these new brands that we wanted to take home and sell to our community. I’ll never forget the day box after box arrived at moms door of our first brands shipment. We had a name, we had product and we took over her basement transforming it into a gorgeous, feminine, Parisian oasis full of soft music and fluffy girly fashion.
Our business plan at the time was to stay small and just have a few brands that we could pack up and take to local trunk shows, markets, private shopping parties and also hosting our own open house shopping days where we could offer drinks, treats and a comfortable environment for people to come look around. The only issue with all this was that if we didn’t have a trunk show or market lined up, we had no way to selling. We sat on a lot of beautiful clothing and just had to wait from date to date until it was time to pack it up and move it to meet customers. It became stale almost, not to mention a lot of work to pack, unpack, set up, sell, break down, pack up, move home, unpack, set back up to ensure the product isn’t wrinkled etc. See, even writing that out looks like a lot of work and really the return of investment wasn’t there. We kept this up through the holidays and then early 2017 knew something had to change. So go big or go home right? Yes! We sat and brain stormed and prayed a lot. Do we keep on with trunk shows, market harder or take a complete new route? We searched for ideas like having a mobile boutique which is popular in Seattle and also in California but not here. There is a lot that goes into a mobile boutique like permits, parking, insurance not to mention the RV itself and the build out. We put it all on the shelf for a few weeks once we realized it might be too big of things for us to handle.
I am not a quitter and I have been told that I’m a dangerous optimist my entire life so with my natural mentality I pushed on and encouraged mom that Le D Bug wasn’t something that would die that easily after only a few short months in a basement. I was gifted a 1 month unlimited class pass to Xtend Barre in Progress Ridge for my birthday which i held onto until April. I started my 1 month of dance classes but was notified half way through the month that they would be closing May 1st. I was so sad at first because i loved this place but it immediately peaked my attention knowing that the location and size of the business would be perfect for our boutique! If only the other baby store in Progress Ridge wasn’t there, you see when they moved in years before, they worked a “No Compete” into their contract so we would never be allowed in the same Townsquare. That is until i walked past the baby store and saw them packing everything up and leaving. I met the owner and had a long talk with her about why they were closing and not renewing their lease. I called mom that evening and said “GUESS WHAT?! Xtend Barre and Posh are both leaving Progress Ridge”. Her response was typical “oh, ok.” I repeated myself. “MOM!!!! Both Posh and Xtend Barre are leaving!!! There is no more competition AND we have a smaller store front option for Le D Bug!!” She got it that time and was 100% on it. We contacted the property management, negotiated terms, met with contractors to discuss a build out, planned what our floor layout would look like, what lights, what colors, where to put a register... so many things we never thought we would have to come up with but it all fell right into place.
September 1st 2017 we opened our doors in the Progress Ridge Townsquare, exactly like we had envisioned the entire time. We just had to be patient while it was all playing out behind the scenes for us. Our store has more then doubled the inventory, we are constantly bringing in new brands and finding ways to support and encourage other small local business and brands. It’s funny to think of where we started and how it seemed so impossible but here we are, working at our own store and getting to do life with all our wonderful and loyal customers who come in. Even better, the rest of our family is here to support us and keep us company while at work. It’s a wonderful family business with all hands in and hopefully one that will be around for years to come.