Welcome to my step by step guide on how to start a boutique. I’m glad you’re here.
WARNING: Make sure you read to the end; you will be missing another of key information if you don’t.
My name is Ruth, supporting writer of the best online guide on starting your own fashion design business. Due to the positive feedback of that article, I have decided to partner once again with the C.E.O of this blog to share my knowledge on another interesting topic; HOW TO START A BOUTIQUE.
Therefore if you’re interested in Opening a boutique of your own soon or in the nearest future, this article is the perfect one for you.
This article contains all the things you need to know to start a boutique. You won’t be disappointed after reading this.
I have been in this business for 8 years and running as at the time I am working on this post.
Therefore I’ll advice you take every point I will be mentioning here as serious as the second coming of Christ lol. So once again welcome to my simple but detailed guide on how to start a boutique successfully this year.
I wouldn’t want to waste time with lots of fashion talk so let’s get right into the business of the day.
Because a lot of people have found it difficult to really understand the meaning of the term boutique; I will like to begin this article by sharing the meaning or definition of a boutique.
What is a boutique?
A boutique is a store where exclusive clothing, accessories, jewelry, handbags, and other related goods are sold to an identified audience or to a particular segment of the market.
Goods in a boutique are likely to be more expensive compared to other stores. This is because they boast of high quality products and are exclusive.
Customers patronizing boutiques know they’ll be spending more compared to other stores but they care less because of the product quality. That’s one of the reasons. why this business is a good one.
Moving forward now to the business of the day.
What are the things should I consider before I start a boutique of my own?
Chapter #1 On How To Start A Boutique.
Based on my experience, I’ll advise that before you start a boutique, there’s need for you to deliberate on a few things to help you launch the boutique on a good note.
Considerations before starting a boutique business.
Step #1 Scale of the Boutique.
The scale of the boutique is basically the size of the boutique. How do you intend to start your boutique? Is it on a micro scale, small-scale, medium scale or on a large-scale?
Micro and small-scale businesses are those with a total investment around 2.5milloin naira that’s approximately $7000.
This exclude the money for getting a shop but include the working capital. Employees or workforce are not usually more that 50.
Medium and large-scale businesses are seen as those started with an investment of at least 50 million naira, that’s approximately $40,000; excluding money for getting a shop but including working capital. With a work force of about 101 – 301.
NOTE: The above figures is just to help you understand the general view of businesses / industries based on scale or size.
Do you know how you can start your own fashion design business? click here
You actually don’t need to save up to those figures to start a boutique. The cost to open a boutique will be talked about in a while. Just keep reading to find out.
In summary, the first thing you should consider if you intend to open a boutique on your own is to decide on the size of the boutique. Will I be starting a small boutique or big one?
Concluding on this will help you come into this business well prepared financially or in terms workers and capital needed to run the business for some time. Personally I’ll advice you startup small, with view of expanding as time goes on.
Step #2 Type of the boutique (Niche)
Your boutique type should be chosen or decided on based on your passion for a particular niche.
In essence, who are those People you’ll like to focus on or target your boutique products too? Do you want to focus on male clothing, females wears, formal wears, children wears etc.
It’s not advisable to open a boutique targeting all available options especially if you’re just starting out.
Instead, you should pick a niche and launch your boutique focusing on a particular segment of the market.
You can decide on your target audience based on your knowledge or experience dealing or having dealt with a particular group of people.
For example, if you’ve worked at a boutique targeting women wears, it’s not a bad idea to open a boutique targeting the audience.
This is because based on your experience having worked at one, you must have known strategies to reach out and satisfy them easily, compared to other niches you know little or nothing about.
Types of boutiques.
- High-end boutiques These are boutiques that stock up their stores with various products from top designers only. Examples of those designs are Gucci, Prada, fendi, Versace, Nike, Adidas, channels etc
Because these products are very expensive, you should consider siting your boutique at a place saturated with high income earners.
In essence, a location place research is needed before starting a high-end boutique.
- Modern fashion boutique. A modern fashion boutique deal exclusively on popular brands.
This type of boutique can also be called the buy and sell boutiques in terms of the way they stock goods.
The buy and sell boutiques actually purchase trendy products in large quantities at wholesale prices from manufacturers or distributors and sell to customers at an higher rate.
To successfully leverage this boutique type, you may need to
- Invest a lot of money to buy products for sale.
- Work on developing a close relationship between yourself and the seller (wholesalers, distribution or manufactures); in other to buy at the a low price/best price so you can make more profit.
- Always buy goods needed by your target audience in large quantities in other to get discount on prices.
The modern fashion boutique should be operated based on your interest in men fashion or women fashion. Whichever you feel you’re more comfortable serving based on your experience or passion is what you should go for.
- Children boutiques: Just as the name implies, it’s a boutique that focuses on selling children wears.
It’s no news that the need for children wears is always on the increase and this is because the wears are cheap when compared to others.
Aside the cheap rate, children can hardly go a day on just a single wear. Because of their lifestyle at such tender age, there’s need for parents to change their cloths sometimes to keep them neat and healthy. Get deals on quality and colourful wears as they do well with kids.
- Self made designs boutiques.
If you’re a fashion designer like me, you can set up your own boutique displaying your best self-made designs. Remember the likes of Gucci, Nike, Versace and other quality brands were nothing before they became something.
You can also start somewhere yourself by focusing on a particular segment of people and creating something of high quality for them. With hard work, creativity, consistency and patience you’ll become a recognized brand.
In summary, considerations on how to start a boutique are
- Deciding on the scale or size of the boutique you want to open. Do you want to start on a small-scale or on a large-scale?
- Type of boutique; This is all about choosing a niche or recognizing your target audience based on your passion for or experience having dealt with that segment of the market.
Step #3 Business education
(Get a general knowledge on how to manage a business)
My third advice on how to start a boutique is to acquire that general knowledge in running a business.
I’m not trying to send you back to college for business administration or marketing and the likes, of course not. You don’t need a degree in fashion to open a boutique and run it successfully.
But if you’re serious about being successful on this field, you’ll definitely need to know how to manage a business And that’s basically what business education is all about.
Tips to help develop a business mindset.
- Read relevant books.
This is actually an idea way to start. Because most of this books usually contain business challenges and strategies to overcome them based on the writer’s experience in the business world.
- By following the steps of successful business individuals in your field.
It’s a welcome idea to have like an idol in any choice of business. Someone you look up to and motivates always.
There must be successful boutique owners around you or in your country and it’s always advisable to watch them closely to see how they operate.
You can attend seminars organized by them to be enlightened on certain areas you need to; by Listening and asking them relevant questions when necessary.
Lastly and most importantly…
- Training (The activity of imparting and acquiring skills)
To be a master, you’ll have to serve a master.
Get in touch with boutique owners around you and offer to work for them.
If they refuse due to financial reasons or they claim there’s no vacancy, let them know you like to serve them for free just to get the needed experience. By so doing, they are likely accept you.
Les Brown a popular motivational speaker shared his story on being a disk jockey.
According to Les, when he was younger, he was asked what he wanted to do and he replied I would like to become a disk jockey. Les had no job but knows he needs to get a good training to achieve his aim of being a disk jockey.
To develop himself, he applied for a job at a radio station as a disk jockey but got rejected. This was because he had no broadcast background or journalism background.
However, he went back to his mentor who told him
Don’t take it personally, most people are so negative they’ll have to say no seven times (7x) before they say yes.
Les was told to go back again for the second time and still got rejected. According to him, he came back the next day (for the third time) as if he was just seeing the man in charge for the first time and was eventually accepted.
Why I am sharing this?
I want you to understand that getting a training on how to manage a or run a boutique is the best thing that can happen to you.
Therefore no matter how many times you get rejected in your quest to gain the experience to manage a boutique by working at one; don’t stop seeking for it until you achieve your aim.
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Things to consider before you choose a boutique to learn from.
- Years of operation. How many years has the boutique been operating?
The saying the older the wine the sweater it gets is true.
The way a boutique owner operating for 10 years will approach and tackle obstacles is more likely to be better compared to that operating for 2 years or less.
To be the best you’ll have to learn from the best.
- Niche: it’s always a welcome idea to get your training from someone serving your intended target audience.
My experience was more on women wears. That’s why targeting and servicing the women was easier for me. It’s just like working with a basketball coach with the intention of coaching a football team in future.
Personally I believe working with someone offering what you intend to offer is best; so you may need to consider the niche of a trainer or boutique while seeking experience.
In summary, the third step I’ll advice you take to start a boutique is to know how to manage a business.
No business can survive bad management. You may want to consider employing someone to handle that department but having the knowledge yourself is best.
Remember, knowledge is light. And if you lack this you can be misled at any time.
Launch your own shoe manufacturing business following this step by step guide.
Step #4 Choose your boutique location.
You location is that place or geographical area where your boutique will be sited so potential customers can patronize you.
Your boutique location is one of the most important success factor in this business. So if you really want to succeed running a boutique, endeavor you get the best possible place for your boutique business.
Moreover, be aware that finance plays a major role in choosing a location. The more exposed and busy an area or place is, the more it’s likely to cost and vice versa. Therefore your ideal location could cost a fortune so don’t be surprised.
Just make sure you’re sited at a place you won’t have to move the next year. Do your best to buy or rent that ideal shop / store for your boutique business.
Before settling for a particular place to run your boutique business, you should consider the following.
- Target audience (potential clients)
By now you should have decided on the segment of people you want to focus on or target.
Now, the big question is, are your target audience in your area of choice?
It’s of no use going in search of a location without considering the people you want to satisfy with your product.
Therefore before siting your boutique at a particular place, make sure target audience are of high population there. They may not necessarily live around there, but it should be a place graced or patronized by them in mass.
For example, sport wears are best sold around a stadium because a stadium is a place usually patronized or graced by sport lovers / fans.
- Easily accessible. Is your boutique easily accessible by your target audience?
Personally in don’t like stress and there are many others just like me.
Being at a place that’s difficult to get through to is never good for business. Your clients shouldn’t have to go through hell to find you. Make sure your boutique is easily accessible.
- Good parking facilities: Do you have a space where clients with vehicles / bikes can park before entering your shop?
You should consider this before siting your boutique at any place.
- Security: how secure or safe is the area?
Clients safety is paramount to the success of a business. If your place is known to have high theft rate or sexual harassment, no body will patronize you.
Imagine a scenario whereby a client parked his car outside your store and it was stolen. Or a scenario whereby clients are bullied off valuables by gang members always sniffing around that geographical area.
First impression last longer. And personally if I hear from 5 – 7 person such activities occur at a particular area I won’t go there.
But unfortunately if it happens that I experience it myself, then trust me you just lost 10% of your potential customers. Because I will tell all who cares to listen the place is a no go area and why they should warn their loved ones too.
Therefore before choosing a location for your boutique, conduct a research to know how safe the place is to operate.
- Profile of customers
Having considered all the above points, the next step is to conduct research on the profile of people living or working in the area.
Boutiques are known for premium prices so I’ll recommend you settle at a place with medium – high income earners.
Your discoveries based on your research will help you know if the people in that locality can afford your product or not.
Step #5 Evaluate competitors
Your competitors are those boutiques owners operating in the geographical area you intend to site your boutique.
First off make sure the number of boutiques in that area is not more than 3 and within 2-3km radius. The fewer boutiques around you the better.
To check (evaluate) your competitors, you need to visit the boutiques around you to know or rather find out their specialties. You can act as a buyer to do that.
checking out your competitors isn’t illegal in business. In the military it’s called spying. You have to spy on your competitors to know their strength and weakness in other to come up with a strategic way to defeat them.
Some of their strengths may include selling quality sari blouses great mini skirts etc. Having detected their strengths and weaknesses it’s advisable you copy their strengths and improve very well on their weaknesses.
Maybe you notice their customer service isn’t that great, you can focus on this and beat them to it. Or you noticed they aren’t selling a particular type of dress in demand, you can leverage this by specializing on that dress by being the only one making that dress without compromising the qualities.
Spying also helps you figure out the level of work you need to put in your boutique business. And also the type of employees you’ll need to deliver the best.
Tips to help you beat you competitors
- Improve your customer service by keeping to timing
- offer quality and trendy product.
- Make sure your prices are very competitive or cheaper compared to your competitors.
Chapter #3 On How To Start A Boutique
Requirements to start a boutique
Step #6 Business plan (Write your business plan)
A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable and plans for reaching them. Wikipedia.org
It is one of most important requirements to start a boutique successfully.
Your business plan must contain the following
- Executive summary: This is more like the introduction if your business plan.
- Company profile: You’re required to provide in detail the snapshot of boutique business. make sure you provide an overall impression of your boutique business to attract suppliers and potential investors.
- Operational plan:
- Organization and management: Briefly explain the form of your boutique.
- Product and services: provide detail information of all you’re selling.
- Financial plan: Details on how to get and effectively manage your finances.
You can write your business plan yourself or get a professional to help you out. The most important thing is that you have it and make sure you follow it.
Step #7 Capital requirements (source for your start-up capital)
This lead us to the popular question
How much does it cost to start a boutique?
Firstly, the cost of opening a boutique will depend on the scale or size you intend to launch the boutique. Because the amount you’ll need to open a boutique on a large-scale will definitely differ from the amount needed to open it on a small-scale.
Secondly, the boutique type is also a major reason.
If you want to open a boutique that sells only top designers products like Gucci, Prada etc; it will definitely cost more compared to children wears boutique and others.
Cost of starting a boutique
However based on the above considerations, starting a standard boutique should cost at least $5,500.
Note: The above figure is just an estimate. It could be more or less due to the number of staffs, location, inventory etc.
3 Simple Ways To Secure Funding For Your Boutique.
- Personal saving
it’s always advisable to dip from savings to start-up your own business. If you’ve got none now, you can get a job to start saving up something. A full-time job isn’t compulsory, you can always do a part-time job.
- Contact your friends and family members.
You can also reach out to friends and relatives to help you with something to start your boutique. For me a loan from a friend is better than that from a bank.
- Request a bank loan
Personally I think this option is a very risky one but it a sure way to secure funds to start-up.
With your business plan, you can contact your bank or others into granting loans to business owners.
Make sure you secure enough funds to run your business for at least 6 months. Remember you’re just starting out so don’t expect customers to start patronizing in mass.
Having that at the back of your mind, secure enough funds to keep your business moving. Because you’ll have to pay workers even when you are not recording huge profit at the introductory stage of your business.
Step #8 Marketing plan
Having good marketing strategies is one of the key requirements to running a successful boutique. Due to high competition in this line of business, you need to leverage all marketing strategies or techniques you know that works.
Below are a few marketing techniques for a boutique business.
- Advertise on a popular blog or website.
You can attract a lot of people to your business by contacting a blog with certain high traffic. You can reach them via their contact page to advertise on their blog or website.
If approved, the next step is to provide pictures of your best designs or product. You’ll also need to offer your contact details and send to the blog to help you advertise.
It’s not done for free so you’ll have to pay a particular sum depending on the website’s popularity.
- create your own website.
Creating a website isn’t enough as you may need to update it with the latest information about your boutique. And also upload fashion related post like 10 fashion styles of the month, best color combinations for jeans and tops, 5 quality gowns every girl should have in her waist etc
To create a website for you’ll need to
- Hire a website developer
- choose a domain names that fit your boutique niche and make sure it’s easy to remember
- make sure your website is mobile friendly.
Because people are now browsing using their mobile phones and tablets lately, having a mobile friendly or responsive site will help customers or readers navigate through the site easily.
Google also has a mobile first index. in essence google ranks site that are mobile friendly first online.
lastly you should get to know a thing or two about search engine optimization (S.E.O) to improve your search presence online. You can always contact me for an e-book on everything you need to know about S.E.O
The good thing about having a website is that, it not only helps in advertising your products, you can use it as an alternative source of income.
- Get your boutique on social media.
You can do this by creating pages and groups using your boutique name on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Make sure you’re active on this platforms to gain followers.
Check out competitors social media accounts for a better idea on how to set up yours. This social websites are your online portfolio that will help people check your work anywhere and anytime.
- Word of mouth.
This is getting people to know about your boutique by telling them your self or by hiring people to help you spread it. When you’re in a conversation with someone, you can seize the opportunity by telling them about your boutique.
- Newspapers and magazines advertising.
Contact the marketing department of a popular fashion magazine and a newspaper to advertise your boutique business. You will be charged based on how many pages you’ll like to cover with your ads.
You should also create, share and post flyers at different locations graced by your target audience. Make sure the flyers has your boutique location and social media details on it.
Other ways you can advertise your boutique include radio and television adverts, billboard adverts, business card etc.
Step #9 Inventory requirements
Firstly, your inventory will or should be decided based on your target audience and boutique type.
Secondly, make sure you stock up your store with just enough trendy and quality product needed by your target audience based on your research.
Thirdly, close deals with suppliers you’re sure meets the demand of your target audience and of course the budget in your business plan.
However, if you are fashion designer who want to open a boutique displaying your own designs, you can decide on your inventory using the following methods.
- Allow clients to bring their own fabrics.
The advantage of this is that the clients are responsible for the fabric quality. And you won’t have to go to the market often to stock up your store with quality fabrics.
- You will be the one to supply the fabric.
The merit of this is that your profit will increase as you’ll earn from selling fabric too. However, you’ll be entirely responsible for the fabric’s quality. And if anything happens to turn out badly, you would be held responsible.
- You can combine both
In essence, you can allow customers to bring their fabrics, and you can also stock up your store with fabrics for them to buy if interested.
By so doing, you’ll attract both customers who want to bring their own fabrics to be worked on and those who would like to buy from you and have you work on them.
Step #10 Business name (Get a business name)
Basically, your business name is what your boutique will be called or known as. Make sure you choose a name for your boutique that will flow with your target audience.
For example, Allmen-fashion boutique. Anybody who hears such a name will know the boutique is focused on male designs or product only. Make sure you choose a simple and catchy name.
You can always go online to get ideas for your boutique name. Don’t forget your choice shouldn’t be a trademarked name, so thread carefully to avoid future sanctions
Step #11 Register your business name.
Get in touch with the proper local governing departments to register your business or get the required license for your business.
The legality of your business is a major requirement opening a boutique. Therefore you should be sure you’re very familiar with the rules and regulations guiding that area or state to avoid sanctions in the future.
- Some benefits of a registered business is that consumers will perceive you as a serious business person and you’ll also attract investors.
- If you’re into creating your own designs, a license will be required to engage in exportation.
Step #12 Equipments and materials
The experience of a training comes in handy here. Because having worked at a boutique, you would know all the must have materials and equipment for a start-up boutique.
However, the most important thing is that you get the necessary supplies to run your boutique. When getting boutique equipment, always consider the quality. Low quality equipment doesn’t last long and in no time, you’ll be hitting the market for new ones and that’s double expenses.
Boutique equipment list.
Hangers, mannequins, jewelry and accessory cases, telephone, cash drawer, computer, scanner for bar code ,shopping bags, clothing label, CCTV cameras (for security purpose), POS system, cash registers, air conditioner, mirrors etc.
- Make sure your social media details appears on your shopping bag.
Step #13 Manpower requirements.
Now is the stage you need to start looking for ways to recruit the needed employees. A lot of people would prefer to start a boutique before employing new workers; but personally I think they are services you’ll need from the very first day you open a boutique.
For example, The services of an accountant to handle accounts can’t be overemphasize. Such services will be required as early as possible. Other positions may include cleaners, sales person, security etc.
However, for self-made designs boutique type, you’ll need the following employees if you can’t handle it yourself.
- Designers: you’ll need very good designers to help you come up designs for customers. There are many good designers out there all available for reasonable salaries.
- Master: The services of a master is really key in a boutique. They are specialists in drafting and cutting the fabric in an appropriate manner. A master doesn’t necessarily have to do the stitching, that’s the job of a tailor. Therefore you should know that an individual who is willing and able to do both is likely to demand more pay. .
- Tailor: they are specialists in stitching the fabric following the instructions of the master.
Employees play major roles in the success or failure of a business. Therefore I think is not a bad idea to contact someone with huge fashion experience you know can help you get the best workers.
The most important thing is that your employees should be very good at their various areas of specialization. After the first interview, have the selected employees you plan on hiring take up trials by asking them to make sample wears of your target audience.
In essence, if you want to open a boutique targeting the male individuals or men wears, it’s advisable you have them come up with a few samples right in front of you using your store equipment.
Chapter #4 On How To Start A Boutique.
Step #14 Set up your boutique.
Truth be told setting up your boutique is a lot of work. It goes beyond getting all the necessary furniture to actually making sure there are well placed or arranged not the to the detriment of spaces.
Your boutique shouldn’t be where customers will have to wait on one another to avoid colliding or brushing elbows.
Moving away from the space to your store colors…
Your choice of color should be what majority of your clients like or appreciate. For example the pink and white colour combinations will likely go for a boutique targeting women.
In summary, I would advice you go online to check out pictures of really cool boutique settings and designs. Or you check out your competitors to get ideas and call a professional to help you do the job.
Investing in the overall design of your boutique is really important because customers will want to feel the amount you’re charging is worth it.
Hire an interior decorator to help you make sure your boutique looks really inviting from the outside and has that paradise look on the inside.
You can also use 3D floors if you can afford them. They are really cool.
Step #15 Launch your boutique.
After a complete set up, it’s now time for you to open your boutique and start making sales. You should know that customers won’t start rolling in initially but as time goes on, they will eventually.
Things to do after you get a client
- Order date
Be plain and sincere about the exact time you’ll be able to complete an order. If you know you can’t keep to your clients order date, don’t accept the job or let them know immediately.
- Keep your prices transparent
It’s not advisable to add or charge extra upon delivery. if you want to charge for home deliver, let the customer know so they can prepare before hand. make sure you’re very transparent.
- No fake promises
When a client come to your store with a design you can’t replicate, it’s either you say you can’t do it or you will try to make sure it comes out well.
Don’t ever promise on something you can’t do. if the dress turns out badly, it’s on you. And not just that, the customer will be disappointed and you’re gradually painting a bad reputation for your boutique.
Abilities needed to start a boutique business.
- High fashion sense.
To start a boutique successfully, you need to know a lot about fashion. It is very important you are very good at it. You should be able to spot a few clients and improve or change their fashion style completely for the better.
- Familiarity with top designers and quality fabrics.
To run a boutique, you need to be familiar with all the top designs available in the market for your target audience. Aside that, you should understand or must know how to differentiate between high quality fabrics or products and low quality ones. Boutiques are known for their quality products and that’s why they attract premium prices.
- Management skill
I’ve discussed something very similar about this on getting a good business education.
The whole idea is just to know how to manage your boutique to avoid hitting the rocks. Get to know how to plan well, organize, control, direct, finance and influence your staffs or employees and your boutique be just fine.
Challenges of a boutique business
- Lack of start-up capital:
- lack of customers at the introductory stage of the business.
- Product price: some customers may feel the price of the product is always too expensive and they may feel reluctant to buy.
- Expenses: (Money spent of transportation, salaries etc)
- Unsatisfied clients
- High level of competition.
All of the above challenges are associated with other businesses and they are nothing compared to the benefits of starting a boutique.
This business is a very lucrative one. So I’ll advise you get to work soon by following this guide on how to start a boutique to open yours; before someone else will acquire that ideal location.
Don’t forget to tell your fabric or product suppliers about your boutique. You can drop your flyers or business cards with them so they can help give or share to interested individuals to contact you. That’s another easy way to market or advertise you boutique.
So that’s basically all on how to start a boutique for now from my end. I’ll advice advise you subscribe to this blog for new update as I’ll be doing a lot of those from time to time.
Lastly, I will like you to add a few tips you know on how to start a boutique successfully. And also what are your thought on this article? Do you think it’s good, bad, it’s worth the effort or it’s just a waste of time.
I’d really appreciate it if you can share your views via the comment section. Thanks.