Photo Credit: Thinking Boutique
By: Shadana Chaney
You recently celebrated a two-year Anniversary with your business Thinking Boutique. How did you decide to become a boutique owner?
It was a natural progression. I decided to set up a place for learning and I really wanted a small school for people to take classes. I then got the idea that when people come in they may want to shop. So I started adding items to the space. The boutique really started as a place for learning.
What was your profession beforehand?
I was a teacher for 17 years. I taught just about all grades. In my last seven years of being a teacher, I taught on the college level at the University of Houston.
What has been your biggest challenge and success since opening the boutique?
The biggest challenge was getting exposure and letting people know we were open for business. We didn’t want to spend too much money on advertising so we were determining whether we should do social media marketing or direct mail. We really wanted people to know we were here and ready to serve them. We wanted customers to know they could come in for classes, shop and host their events. The biggest accomplishment was creating a beautiful community for women to come in for unique items and good networking. By creating this community I was able to develop great relationships with bloggers, businesswomen and moms.
I see that you do a lot of networking and cross-promotion with other businesses by partnering with others in the fashion community. How has it helped your business?
I believe it’s been essential for the boutique to survive. It was important to create relationships with other small businesses with women and coaches who are looking to find space to teach their classes. So I became that space where people can come and teach their classes and network. We do coffee cliques in the morning and networking at night. As the brand ambassador of my business I have to go and let people know that I’m here. I’m constantly advocating for the store and building those connections to make my presence known in the community.
What types of marketing and promotion would you say has been the most successful for your boutique?
Creating a micro-marketing campaign. I started doing more work with influencers; working with businesses and bloggers so they can start promoting the store in their own circles. Most of the time people go shopping because someone endorsed it. I started to develop relationships with people who had their own following and exposure. By working with those influencers we did a lot of cross-promotion with each other. I would promote them at the boutique and they then would promote me and the boutique. After doing this I started to see a lot of traffic in the store and it really boosted my online sales.
What advice would you give to aspiring boutique owners?
One thing I would say is to definitely interview other boutique owners and ask those owners questions before getting started. That’s one of the things I did first because I didn’t know anything before I got started; I was completely lost, but after speaking with other boutique owners it gave me the confidence I needed to move forward. Their advice was very helpful. Another piece of influential advice I would give is to be very clear about starting a business and decide if its something you want to do because having a business really consumes your life. It’s like you’re never done. You always have to do something whether it’s preparing for an event, posting to social media, or shipping a package. It’s always something and you will need to block out as much time as you need to for your business to be a success. It may even kill your social life a bit so make sure you have the time and effort you need to put into running a business.
Thinking Boutique is located in West Houston in the energy corridor. It’s a global boutique where Alicia travels around the world to different countries and shops in each country to bring something back to the boutique. Its one of the things that makes it so unique and one of the reasons I fell in love with it after visiting for the first time. From the uniqueness of the items to the beautiful aesthetics when you walk in the place is stunning. An added bonus is the classes and workshops hosted every month for business owners. I highly encourage anyone that lives or just visiting Houston for the first time to visit Thinking Boutique.
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Fashion Contributor Shadana Miranda Chaney is a stylist and fashion designer in Houston, TX. She is the founder and creative director of Miranda Chaney LLC a design and styling company. Originally from New Orleans, La., she is now making her mark in Houston. Shadana believes in inspiring and empowering other women to be great through fashion.
To keep up with the Beautifully Said Magazine fashion contributor and to get the latest style updates follow her on her social media sites.
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