I SWORE I would never say it: but the world has changed so much since I was a kid.
Sure, I grew up in a not-so-distant time when you were no one unless you had a sassy AOL instant messenger screen name that included your nickname and birthday. But I never imagined the day that my 11 year old niece would have a better cell phone than me, on which she can show me the latest YouTube video craze with some strange kid dancing to Usher’s “DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again”. Hilarious, but how did she find out about this before me?
Even though technology can often leave us feeling like our head is spinning, it’s opened doors for business owners who might not necessarily have the capital to open up a physical shop, but who have a vision and dream all the same.
One might think local boutiques wouldn’t translate online. But, yes there’s an app for that.
About two years ago at Point to Point, my friend and I spotted someone in a classic, yellow sheath dress. I couldn’t help but ask her where she had gotten the dress.
“ShopMamie. It’s my friend’s online boutique,” she responded. I checked out the site as part of what I like to call “fantasy shopping,” online window-shopping for poor twenty-somethings who have chosen the life of a “do-gooder.”
I found that the site was chic, fun, and everything was under 100 dollars. Better yet, the founders were from Delaware.
Checking out the site (www.shopmamie.com) will show you that they have a knack for what they do. They have mastered the ability to find specialized, quality, and affordable items and market them online, through their blog and others’.
But what I really wanted to hear about was the business side of this stylish duo, and how they managed to parlay their shopping hobby into full time careers.
When I caught up with Megan Healy, one of the owners, I got the scoop: Megan had a degree in fashion merchandising, her partner Amy Trelenberg a degree in accounting (note Mamie = Megan + Amy). Both graduated and signed on to normal 9-5 jobs.
But after years of talking about opening a boutique, and spending all of their free time trekking out of state to find good boutique shopping, the two finally got serious about opening the doors, so to speak, of their dream boutique.
They approached the Small Business Association and SCORE (retired business executives who help start-up businesses realize their dreams) which helped them get a business plan in place. Unable to procure a business loan, given their lack of assets at the age of 23, they put their savings together and flew to LA to research clothes and boutiques.
They ended up buying tons of clothes, which they sold at a hugely successful launch party. “Amy quit her accounting job the next day,” shared Megan.
Still without a storefront, Amy’s father suggested, “Why not just start online and see how it goes?” After dismissing the idea for several months (as most of us do at first when our parents give advice), the two eventually did just that.
Now, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We don’t plan on opening a storefront anytime soon. We love what we have and don’t have to work nights or weekends, like most boutique owners.” And most importantly, they don’t have to deal with the overhead cost of a storefront, transferring that savings onto the customer.
But don’t fret if you are a consumer that likes to try things on: you can set up an appointment to do so at their office in Trolley Square.
Three and a half years later, their business is still thriving and their blog gets anywhere from 800-4,000 hits a day. Plus, now they have grown their clientele past Delaware to as far as California and even Australia.
If you’ve ever thought about turning your hobby into a dream job, the main advice they have for you is, “Don’t listen to negativity, and don’t do it unless you can give 100%!”
I have a lot of respect for these business women, who not only turned a love of shopping into a career, but created a place for stylish but thrifty Delawarean to find unique items.
You can check out their website and fashion blog at www.shopmamie.com.