How It All Got Started
We have officially hit 5 whole years in business!!! This feels like a huge accomplishment being a first time business owner. Since a lot of you guys have asked in the past, I thought it was appropriate timing to share my story about how I got here and why I decided to start my own business.
Ever since high school, I knew I enjoyed fashion. I will never forget the day my mother asked me what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go to college. Just like any 17 year old, I had no idea the path I would take but I knew it would be fashion and I knew I wanted to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC.
I started off going to a two year school on Long Island where I received my associates in Liberal Arts. Oh wait, let me back up, I'm from Long Island! After I received my associates, I enrolled in the 1 year program at FIT. I had an internship in the buying department of Century 21 down by Wall Street which eventually turned into a full time job after I graduated with an Associates in Fashion Merchandising Management. After working in the buying department for 6 months, I panicked! I thought, "I don't like this commute, buying isn't REALLY shopping all the time, it's a lot of numbers and what if I hate this for the rest of my life?!"
I went back to school at St Joseph's and got my bachelor's in Psychology as a back up. I should mention, I had been working in retail this entire time. I have worked retail since I could first get a job at 15 years old. After I got my bachelor's I decided to apply for the Management Training program at Gilly Hicks (the underwear brand of Abercrombie + Fitch). I was a really good manager. I loved training people and I loved getting the job done while trying to have fun! My real love was merchandising though. When I was offered the Visual Merchandising Manager position, I couldn't turn it down. This is when my real career path started to develop. A+F used me within their stores to "fix their messes." Actually, every company I worked for after them did the same! I would get sent from Gilly Hicks to A+F to Hollister and back to A+F to try and grow their business from a visual stand point.
After a couple of years doing this, a friend suggested a Women's Visual Stylist position at Bloomingdale's. I got the position and with zero experience, really learned a lot! This position was strictly dressing mannequins and doing floor and window displays. It sounds glamorous but I was mostly covered in paint and lived for power tools. It was a REALLY cool job. I got to be very creative and after I got recognized, they started letting me travel to other stores to help set up prototypes.
While working at Bloomingdale's, I met a Ralph Lauren Rep and decided to apply for a position there. My title was Sales Coordinator, but essentially, I had 14 shops within department stores in the tri-state area that I was held accountable for. I would merchandise each shop and make sure that it was making the money it was supposed to. One of my supervisors told me I could "make any disaster look beautiful" and that's when they decided to have me help make the entire merchandise handbook for the company. They sent me to North Carolina every quarter where I would merchandise the set up for each store to be printed in a handbook. I truly thought I had made it!! This is what I was good at and this is what I wanted to do for a living!
CURVEBALL!!!! Did I mention I had a boyfriend through most of the journey?? Jake...my current husband?? Yeah....he went to college in Long Island and worked for me at Gilly Hicks in our stockroom. I had the entire Stony Brook hockey team as my stockroom employees. Long story short...he quit, we started dating, I was doing all these career changes, he graduated college and got a job in Cortland. CORTLAND! I mean, I love Cortland, I lived there for a ton of years and my daughter ended up being born there.
Here I am though, thinking I finally figured out what I was doing for a living with Ralph Lauren and Jake throws a wrench in my plans. I am the first person to say, career comes first, but I loved him and I really thought he was the one and he was...so I moved. I knew I could do whatever I wanted with retail somewhere else, just wasn't sure to what extent.
Fast forward to my 30th Birthday, I had lived in CNY for 5 years at this point. I had worked for H+M and Old Navy doing the same things I had always done...managing, merchandising, traveling and opening up new stores around the area but it wasn't what I wanted to do for a living. For my 30th birthday, I went to Skaneateles for a day date with some girl friends and walked past an empty spot on E Genesee that was for rent. I called Jake at that moment and told him I was opening a boutique. I had a gut feeling that i was meant to do this, I had the background in retail and I felt prepared.
As many of you know, my birthday is in September. October of 2015 I signed the lease and November I left my job. In January of 2016, Jake and our best friend Jason, moved all of my fixtures and product into the space (while there was snow on the ground) and I opened my first location! In October of 2016, I moved to a bigger location and this past January of 2020, I added men's and moved to my final location. At this point I don't plan on moving again because I love my corner space so much. I hope to grow the online business and hopefully own a warehouse one day! Who knows what the future may hold but I am excited every day to go to work and that's all that matters. This has been a wild ride so far and I can't wait to see where it goes!