Retail Careers - Owning Your Own Discount Designer Clothing Boutique
Betty Lin has been in retail for over for over 25 years. She owns betty lin, Seattle's premier discount designer clothing boutique. Her boutique is famous for the excellent customer service they provide. The interview below provides great information on what to expect from a long term career in retail.
PayScale: What is the job description for an owner of a designer clothing boutique?
Betty Lin: As the owner of a small retail clothing store, I take care of everything having to do with inventory from sourcing designer clothes, buying designer clothing, processing inventory, merchandising and selling. I take care of all administrative tasks too, such as bookkeeping, paying all business taxes, accounting and payroll. I also take care of the everyday duties of running a discount designer clothing boutique such as cleaning, and shop keeping, which means being in the boutique! Of course, I would not have anything to manage if we were not selling our discount designer clothing. Therefore, I spend the majority of my time selling. I am in charge of the marketing of my store. The best form of marketing is through word of mouth. We try to impress our customers with the great service they receive here in the store so that they tell their friends about us.
PayScale: How did you begin your career in designer clothing? What motivated you to open your own discount designer boutique?
Betty Lin: Retail was an accidental career for me. It was a suitable part time job throughout high school and college because the hours were flexible. I continued to work in retail because I found that I love working with people. Most of my career has been dressing women. I love to dress women. I know how to make women look great. This is what motivates me to continue working in retail and designer clothing after all these years. I love helping women look great through dressing for their age, body type and expressing their individual personality through clothing. After 20 years of working for others, I decided to open my own discount designer clothing boutique.
PayScale: What do you love about your career in retail and discount designer clothing?
Betty Lin: When customers come back to my designer clothing boutique because they love the way I dress them, that is the ultimate compliment. I love making a woman feel good about herself with a great outfit. Even for myself, when I feel good, I stand taller, smile broader, and feel more powerful. That's what I aim to do for my customers every day. Just yesterday, I met a new customer for the first time. She hated her body. She has gained about 20 pounds in the last few years. She is striving to lose the weight. She wants the body she used to have. Her clothes are all fitting too tightly. She is frustrated every morning when she tries to get dressed. Two hours later, we found two complete outfits which she can mix and match that makes her feel great. I feel so fulfilled! I feel privileged to dress her and help her feel better in the body she has.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as an owner of a discount designer clothing boutique?
Betty Lin: The biggest challenge for me as a manager of a designer clothing boutique is to find employees who share in the same passion I have for dressing women. Since it's hard for me to dress every woman who walks through the store, I need a team of knowledgeable employees who also have the ability and share in the passion to dress women. Retail is a people business. It takes a special "service-oriented" person to want to serve and meet the needs of every potential client who walks through our doors. The reality of retail is that the store must be open during certain hours consistently. I have known shop keepers who close their doors on a whim, go home early, or open the shop late. These are not acceptable practices in running a retail store or discount designer clothing boutique. A storekeeper must be ready to greet with a smile, rain or shine, weather feeling happy or sad, when business is good or bad. If you are not a person who can do that, you should not run a retail store.
What advice can you offer to someone in your field?
Betty Lin: If you want to be in retail, you need to love working with people, and love to sell. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you love what you are selling, the job will come easily. Retail is a patient business. It takes time for customers to know you and to trust you. I think retail is a tough business. I do it because I love it. I think there are easier ways to make money. But, I would not trade selling beautiful, discount designer clothing to appreciative customers for anything. Additionally, it takes time to build a customer base for your store or designer clothing boutique. Make sure you have enough money to support many months of slow business.
PayScale: What are some interesting moments that you’ve experienced in your retail career or running your discount designer clothing boutique?
Betty Lin: The most amazing experience I've had in this business is when customers spend money with me and then thank me for being here. I am completely humbled by this experience. I love my customers. I want to offer them the best designer clothing I can find, at the best price, and give them the best service they have ever received in any clothing store or buying discount designer clothing. I am also starting a new adventure to allow my customers to buy women's designer shoes online. All my customer keep saying that we have the lowest prices anywhere for women’s designer shoes, so I decided to start selling our shoes online. Since this is very different from my traditional retail experience, it has been extremely interesting. I am even starting to work on my own fashion blog, so I can share my clothing tips and help women everywhere look great through dressing for their age and body type.
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