What is it really like to own a brick & mortar retail boutique in the current economic climate?

My guest today – Meg Sutton of Belle & Union – has an interesting business trajectory.

She was working full-time, doing wedding invitations on the side… and then decided she wanted to launch her own business.

Instead of just opening an online shop, she worked for a full year behind the scenes, then launched her business at a major trade show in the USA.

It was a big success, and her business grew from there – to moving from strictly wholesale to also selling online – to now, where she has been running her own brick & mortar shop in San Antonio, Texas.

In this episode, we discuss her journey, and the realities of owning a b&m business – the ups and the downs.

If you’ve ever dreamt of opening your own shop (and let’s be honest – who hasn’t?!) don’t miss this episode.

Listen below…

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Quotes and highlights from this episode:

 

  • Whilst many creative businesses start in retail then move into wholesale, Meg did things in reverse.
  • After attending a major trade show, she decided to go full time with her side hustle – Belle and Union. Meg spent the next year working on her collection and debuted at the same trade show the following year where she signed 50 accounts.
  • Throughout this time Meg – with help from her husband – was managing all aspects of the business including marketing and manufacture.
  • Over the next few years, Belle and Union continued to grow and Meg made the shift into online retail and then into a bricks and mortar store.
  • “I had seen a shift happening in the industry – so much of sales is now direct to the consumer” {Meg}
  • Between wholesale, online retail and a store Meg required additional support.
  • She recruited a store manager with extensive retail experience who takes point on the bricks and mortar shop and has additional support with some very part-time shop staff.
  • “So much of business is numbers and money… it’s not all just make things and be happy” {Meg}
  • With a retail store, the overheads for running the business has significantly increased.
  • “I have a vision I want to stick to but I can’t always afford that vision” {Meg}
  •  Getting people through the door and into your store is much harder than many people realise. 
  • “Marketing is a constant grind – I don’t think you ever get to stop” {Meg}
  • Meg has found that creative time can get subsumed by all the aspects of running a business.
  • “You have to carve time into your calendar (for creative work) or otherwise it won’t get done. There is always another fire that needs to be put out” {Meg}
  • Find Meg on her site: Belle & Union Co.

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