We had a chance to ask sisters Kathy and Karen of the The Salvaged Boutique some questions about their business, and any advice they had for aspiring shop owners. Their business caught our eye because not only do they sell antique and upcycled housewares (and our candles), they also run workshops in their store. The combination of retail and creative space got us thinking that these two sisters have something figured out in the world of retail that has become increasingly important - the experience in the store. Meet these two forward thinkers, female entrepreneurs, and first generation immigrants who share their insights with us below.
- What do you think is the number one thing women need, in order to succeed at starting their own business?
Karen makes a great point when she says women need the support of their families, when starting out a business. The hours can be long and demanding and we often need help whether we want to ask for it or not - especially if you're opening a brick and mortar store. A good backbone helps too, you must know your values, stand up for them and have those guide you while building your business.
- How does social media affect your business - has it helped you grow?
As Kathy always says “it’s our bread & butter”. People are busy and don’t always have time to browse around in stores. Social Media lets us show our customers what we have, our personalities, and the experience they'll enjoy when they come into our shop. Images are important but YOUR VOICE on social media can be an amazing tool for drawing customers into your store.
- How has your background shaped you into becoming a business owner?
The ABOUT US page on our website tells our story best, but being raised the way we were, it makes us pay attention to details and it taught us that things don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful. As business owners, it's important to pay attention to the little details, that make your customers happy but it's also important to be frugal and watch expenses. The more you pay attention to expenses, the more you can pay yourself and we firmly believe that all women business owners should pay themselves from DAY 1. Kathy preaches this often on her Savvy Shopkeeper blog and in her Savvy Shopkeepers Facebook Group.
- You run your business as sisters - any advice for women who are thinking to start a business with their family or friends?
Make sure you have the same likes, the same vision and goals. Be flexible. Know each others strengths and utilize them. And once you're in business together, schedule quarterly meetings to sit down and talk about the business - what's working, what's not, talk about future plans, make changes, and this is so important... review finances.
- What are the challenges, if any, of having a brick and mortar store in the age of Amazon?
Amazon makes shopping affordable and convenient. We understand this and we actually shop for Amazon on occasion for our business. But what we offer at our store is an experience. You can physically touch our items, know exactly what you're getting, have a nice conversation with us, ask questions, make a request or place a custom order. And if you're attending one of our workshops, you can enjoy time with other like-minded people, learn a skill and have fun!
- What has surprised you the most about running your own business?
The loyalty and friendships we have gained! That we would create our own little family of customers. It's been amazing and heartwarming. Not to mention the people who have taken us in and embraced us as being a part of the community where our store is located, in Lakewood, Ohio. We definitely feel and appreciate the #shoplocal movement.
I think the main takeaways here are that retail owners have to think the customer experience all the way through. There has to be a reason for your store to be picked over Amazon. For female business owners in general, it’s important to come from a place internally where you value yourself. If you value yourself, you will stand up for what you believe and pay yourself from Day 1, so that you are not structuring your business to drain you, but to live the life you want. Thanks ladies, for giving us some of your time!
You can find out more about this awesome business at:
Karen Studd & Kathy Cruz, Co-Owners
The Salvaged Boutique
13383 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107