Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Why We Closed Our Online Boutique

starting an online boutique
modest boutique clothing for women
why not to start an online boutique
why i'm closing my online boutique
Today is the one year anniversary of Randall+Roo, the women's clothing boutique I started with my cousin Jess last year on April 17th. Over that time we hosted numerous pop up parties, completed photo shoots in beautiful places, got invited to Pinner's Conference, worked with Instagram influencers and got to see pieces we've hand-picked worn by people we love as well as complete strangers. I can honestly say I loved the experience, but for a number of reasons- that I will go into- we decided to close Randall+Roo. Business officially ended last week when we shut down our website.

I've had quite a few people ask why, the majority of them are girls who are interested in starting a boutique themselves. So I thought the easiest way to explain it would be here! To be clear, we are not closing it because it was a failure. We had a great time and we covered our expenses and more! But it wasn't something either of us felt inspired by anymore. Jess and I were in agreement to close it, but I have listed my personal reasons below.
online boutique insiders opinion
1. Clothing of Unknown Quality. To let you in on a little industry secret: shopping for a boutique is just like shopping online. Besides two trade shows we went to, all of our purchases were made online from a wholesale market formatted just like any other website. However, you order large packs instead of single items and they cost a TON to ship. So if an item showed up and we weren't amazed with the quality, unless there was a defect, we had to pay for shipping again. Most of the time we just bit the bullet and lowered the price accordingly which really cut our margins.

2. An Oversaturated Market. I know you Utah girls are fully aware of this. There are a million boutiques out there right now, and the majority of them do not own their own factories or design teams. Unfortunately most of them are buying from the same wholesalers, and when everyone has the same items it becomes a price war. Which is not a fun way to do business.

3. My Contradicting Goal of Minimalism. One of my goals of 2018 was to buy only one thing per month that I did not need (i.e. clothing, home decor, new shoes) because I want to be less of a consumer. It seems hypocritical to me to have that goal, and then be encouraging others to buy items every day on Instagram.

4. Selling to my Warm Market. Slipping into some direct marketing terms here;) Your "warm market" essentially refers to the people who got your back. Like in elementary school when you had to do a fundraiser and you knew you could count on your grandparents and 2 nice neighbors to buy some crap. My warm market (friends, relatives, coworkers, fellow students) were awesome supporters of Randall+Roo and I love them for it! However, the cold market (prospective customers) was much harder to recruit, and although we did get a good amount of sales from them I never felt like our cold market sales sustained us. This was 100% our fault and we knew we weren't putting in the effort to make the switch, but selling to our warm market sometimes made me wonder if people felt obligated to support us because they were my friend.

5. Time Consuming. Obviously, it takes a lot to run your own business! Between the customer service emails, marketing, packaging, searching through thousands of vendors to find pieces we loved, and doing all of the photography (modeling, shooting, editing) it really made me realize my passion/lack of passion for the fashion industry! Haha still, I'm glad that I tried it and found that out first hand.

In conclusion, owning an online boutique was a fun way to try my hand at owning a business. I'm grateful for all the lessons I learned in social media marketing, photography, product purchasing and online distribution. I'm grateful to Jess for being my business partner, for showing me the ropes and laying the groundwork so that Randall+Roo was a success! I'm extremely grateful to Tayler for encouraging me, helping with packages and being our unpaid photographer. But as we near graduation and this next step in our lives we are ready for something different.

To all those who bought something from Randall+Roo, came to a pop-up, or just followed along on social media I cannot thank you enough for supporting us. You guys are the best.

See last year's blog post announcing Randall+Roo here


No comments:

Post a Comment