Running a Boutique - Updates!

This post has been forever in getting done, I'm sorry! You can watch my video from last year here on how I got started. I'll attempt to cover all the same bases with update now that I'm nearing the 2 year anniversary of Ollie Marie Boutique!

Website: I am still using Shopify, the middle plan from above. I haven't been able to make the commitment to the bigger plan because that's a huge price jump and really the benefits are in things like running reports and having someone assigned to your account to help you if you need it. I've had to call Shopify a few times for emergencies - once when my domain didn't renew on a freaking Saturday while I was headed to Great Wolf Lodge with my family. Talk about stressful, but I was able to get someone on the phone and get it fixed so I have to say I've been pretty happy with the level of customer service I've been getting with my plan. 

Reporting does suck with this plan though, for example it's impossible for me to pull a report on items I've refunded as damaged. I did come across an app called Deep Mine that should solve this problem for me and it's a very small fee to install.

I've said this before, but Shopify does have some great features and some areas that are hard to use. For example updating a collection - you can't choose multiple items at once, you have to take each one out one by freaking one. 

Last year Instagram changed their feed to a fancy algorithm just like Facebook - you can literally see the drop in my sales the month it happened. Killer. So what's a girl to do? Start giving them money so people who like my pages can see them. I am in no way a Facebook ad pro and I found a nifty little app that does the ads for me - Kit. 

Kit is $25 bucks a month and worth every penny! I connect with Kit on messenger and can easily create a FB ad from my phone in less than 2 minutes. Kit also will do Instagram ads, but I have noticed the return in sales on there is much smaller so I've been putting my money into FB. I went from spending maybe $50/month last year on FB ads to about $900/month.

My issue with this is that am I really finding new customers or am I just targeting people who would probably shop with my anyways? Hard to tell if I'm getting my money's worth. 

MailChimp has updated and I'm LOVING all the new features. I can easily make email to send out - now that it connects to my Shopify store I can search a product name and it will populate a price and link into my emailer - I used to spend way too much time manually putting everything in myself. MailChimp also will do FB ads, but I haven't tried that feature yet. They also such cool automation stuff that I have to learn about still. 

I've branched out and found some new models, I really like to have a variety of body types and sizes to show the clothing in, my average customer is between a M - XL. Pretty soon I'm going to have to find a new curvy model because Amber is killing it with macros and Crossfit and shrinking daily! I put an ad out on FB looking for someone which turned out really great for me. I said this in my first video, but pictures are very important and I think money is well spent on hiring someone to come take them for you so they are all uniform on your website. We will be moving locations soon and I can't take that plank wall with me so be on the lookout for a rebranding from us! New wall, new logo,  and updated website! I just happen to have a friend who is a BA at marketing and she's come up with a great new look for us :) It pays to have talented friends!

I'm still very happy with my Shipping Easy and I still order my bags and supplies from either Amazon or Upaknship.com I still offer free shipping, but spent over 50K in shipping costs last year alone! 

My goal this year was to do a few shows, my first was was less than stellar and I was left over with a ton of inventory, but I applied for a few more locally this year. I have faith that next time with go better! Once my house sells I plan on doing a Sip and Shop and since I'm moving it's open to all the people, if you'd like to come send me a FB message!

Working for yourself is a lot more stressful than anticipated - sales can be up and down. The business does not run itself, you have to work it daily and it's hard to take time off and not feel super guilty. Don't get me wrong there I love being home with my kids more, being able to take them where they need to go each day, but when we count on my income I definitely don't sleep as well at night. The Fall months were pretty slow for me, Spring has picked up thankfully. 

The longer I do this the easier it is to pick clothing, I've learned what my customers will and won't buy so it's less of a guessing game. I do add in the occasional risky item just to test it out, I didn't do any swimwear this year but I think I'll try it for next summer. 

Overall for last year I did well, the boutique covered what I was making at my HR job and allowed me to do something I loved and be home more with my family which was really my main goal. 

Let me know if you have questions, I'm sure I missed some in this post! skinnymeg@outlook.com or on Facebook.

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