Hi! I'm Shannon - the co-owner of Cute Closet Boutique [my hubby is the other half of this biz]. I've pondered for a long time on how I wanted to kick off our blog series and an introduction post seemed to be most fitting. While there is so much more to my life story then what meets the eye, I’ve touched here on the more intriguing details of my journey and the questions I get asked most often. So who am I?
Simply a girl, who dared to take amazing risks. BIG risks. My grandfather instilled in me long ago that "To go for the GREAT - one must aways be BOLD." Those words had stuck with me, even through great times of adversity in my life, and a motto my brain refers back to repeatedly when faced with hard decisions. Starting a boutique was something I had always dreamed of doing but not a reality I ever thought possible, until the day we decided to just go for it. So I jumped with a prayer in my heart and with the guiding hand of my husband, Matt to grab ahold of. We poured every ounce, every resource - blood, sweat and lots of tears, into being small business owners and on November 4th, 2014 The Cute Closet was born.
How Did You Get Started and Why?
Deciding to start was the easy part - actually sitting down and crunching financial numbers, reality scope of the business - was extremely difficult. Matt and I had just been married in Charleston, SC in August of 2014 - so 3 very shorts months later, we opened the biggest journey of our life. We were still on the "Honeymoon High" when we made the choice to take such a BIG risk - and looking back, it scares me still. But I saw a need, I saw a desire for affordable boutique clothing - something different from the big box stores where they carried the same styles for full seasons. Something different then the upscale vibe of boutiques where you felt just like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman". I hated that the most, and I never, ever wanted any woman to feel that way again because I certainly had. I spent hours researching online for about a year before we officially opened - talking with brand lines - figuring out how to put everything together to make what I wanted to offer unique - not only in our clothing selection but in experience. I had notebooks filled with ideas, store design layouts, and estimated profit/loss margins. But I will say, as much as I planned - nothing can truly prepare you for the world of retail business ownership, ever. Until you've been in the trenches and worked your way through them.
Did You Go To College - What Did You Study?
No - I have no formal college education - surprise! I graduated from Lee Senior in 2006 and taught Pre-School for almost 7 years. A job I LOVED and still enjoy seeing my precious former students to this day. I was blessed to have 3 children by the time I was 24. So while most of my peers were away at college, I was busy being a mom. This experience shaped me in ways I don't think I could ever portray in written word correctly - but as they say "hardships often prepare ordinary people, for an extraordinary destiny" Beating the odds - one day at the time.
What's Your Favorite Style - Brands and Style Icons?
I'm a jeans and tee kind of girl - most days you'll find me rocking that style - #momlife. While I love comfy graphic tees I will get dolled up at every chance I can get. I'm obsessed with bold prints - and bolder colors. I love a great bold pattern but I absolutely love classic textures and prints [seersucker, plaids + polka dots!] I love girly chic - big bows and pearls. Kate Middleton and Reese Witherspoon are two of my favorites ladies I envy. Classic! My favorite designer brands - Reese's line - Draper James, Kate Spade and Lilly Pulitzer. Clothing is a reflection of your personality and while I can be reserved, my inner spirit is bright, loud, girly fun and full of joy - which those brands encompass. You'll see touches of similar styles through out our lines.
Who Buys and Picks Out The Styles TCC Offers?
I do. Every.Single.Piece of clothing that we carry is hand picked by yours truly. I spend countless hours throughout the week looking at brand lines, painstakingly picking through 1000's of pieces to find ones that I think are a good fit for our store, brand and ones that ours customers will love. Each piece is UNIQUE and as most of your know, sometimes we may get a piece in once and then its gone forever - as designers sell out and don't restock the same design. Which makes shopping at TCC all that more thrilling.(lol!!)
Pizza or Tacos?
Pizza, with a side of Tacos.
Who is Your Role Model, and Why?
I always tell people that I've had one constant in my life - a person that has been with me through every hurdle big and small. We've had our disagreements, we don't always share the same view points but she always believed in me. My mother is my Role Model. Her unconditional love, through the good times and bad - inspires me continuously to be a better person every single day. She never gave up on me, so I can't give up on myself.
What's Your Biggest Fear?
Snakes and Heights - or a combo of the two.
Major Book Worm - I try to read at least two full books a week and by books - I mean "REAL" books. No digital downloads here, I take pleasure in turning actual pages. Call me old school. My genre of choice is Historical Fiction and Mystery Novels. Ruth Ware is amazing - check out her books! You can find me hanging out at Barnes and Noble on my off days.
I also enjoy writing. I've been writing poems, short stories and journaling since I was a child. My life goal is to write a book someday .. even if its just for my own eyes.
Halloween. Is that considered a hobby? It should be. The month of October, is my absolute favorite. - The Walking Dead is my favorite show and should be considered a hobby too. (My TWD shirt collection is on point! See the pic above.)
Now we're talking. My heart and soul was born in the early 70's. My parents passed down an extreme love of Classic Rock music. You can find me listening to Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac on a daily basis. While I enjoy the old jams, I have a vast appreciation for Motown Music, 90's Rap, 80's Rock and 90's Country. Of course, having been a teenager in the early 00's - I can sing most popular music from the decade word by word. My taste is vast - I enjoy dancing around the house with my kids daily.
One of many...
All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me….You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.
What Advice Would I Give to A New Entrepreneur?
Realize quickly that all the plans of how you thought things would go - won't; but you must resist the urge to give up. For it's in the moments of greatest struggle that you could be inches away from your biggest break. Don't give up. Retail entrepreneurship in particular is extremely difficult, and in my opinion the toughest entrepreneurship route to take. Welcome to retail - where every day is a crap shoot. You never know what to expect and can never truly predicate just how many people will walk through the door and while they may come in - how many will buy. What we can do is forecast - but it takes time to establish that. Know that overnight success CAN happen but your more likely to win the lottery before that actually does. It easy to get caught up in the numbers and competition of the business but if there is one thing I can hand downs say is the single greatest piece of advice I can give: "Put on your Blinders - and Focus on YOU. - your business, your goals, your aspirations, your money, your employees, your vision - YOU." Worrying about what other's say and what they are doing is the quickest way to get distracted and fail. Be original. Be unique. Be YOU and the rest will fall into place but know - you must WORK. 24/7. Every.Single.Day. - Even while your on vacation at Disney World, sitting front row on your favorite ride, with your daughter beaming at you as she rides her first big coaster. The text got answered quickly then we proceeded to enjoy the moment - there is NO "off time" being the owner of your own business. It WILL happen and you have to be ready to make huge sacrifices to make it work. That means losing friends, staying up all night to meet a deadline, working on vacation, and even missing out on important events with your kids. It will happen, it has happened and if your not ready to make hard decisions, this isn't for you.
“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” –Nolan Bushnell, entrepreneur.
Why the Flamingo Mascot?
My favorite question. My entire life, I have always been a little different. They say the youngest child of a family always is. I always thought about things a little differently and I looked at things on a deeper level than most. I was the 'glass half full type" - optimistic but also extremely realistic. I was creative and I excelled at expressing myself through my creativity. I was super competitive in both school and sports. I was one of the tallest girl in my grade level most of the way through school - so I naturally knew what it always felt like to be "different". When kids were listening to Lil' Wayne, I was listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival. When everyone would choose blue, I'd choose yellow. While I yearned to fit in, I dared to stand apart at the same time - I learned to embrace my uniqueness. Every girl should.
I love to browse the Flea Market in Raleigh on the weekends and on one particular Saturday, I found her. Amid piles of rusted tangled bits of rebar there she was. A pink speck in a heap full of rust colored tangled metal. I got my husband to dig her out and we paid $5 for Flossy. She really found me - it just clicked and made so much sense. Flamingos are so much more then their BEAUTY ... they are BOLD, they are DIFFERENT and they are so, so UNIQUE.
Which are the qualities I wanted my store to be about. Flossy was home.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
My goal with TCC is simple - for every girl, whether old, young or just young at heart - black, white, brown or yellow, girly girl or tomboy - well off or not, tall or short, small or curvy. For them to know that they are welcome to shop here. A place where it doesn't matter what your last name is, you'll still get the red carpet rolled out for you every time. Where you'll feel worthy and important. Where you can find a beautiful piece to express who you are in, to tell your story. Be whoever you want to be. Where you can try new styles for the first time, jump on a trend or start your own. Where you can finally start treating yourself and not feel guilty about it afterwards. Where if you ask us our opinion on an outfit - we're going to tell you the truth. Where we build confidence one amazing outfit at a time.
Where it's CHIC .. to be UNIQUE.
Thank you SO much for joining me our this journey. I consider my customers family - so let's chat, my email inbox is ALWAYS open (firstname.lastname@example.org) The door to the shop is there too, come chat - the good Lord knows we love to talk. Without you - this wouldn't be possible and I am forever grateful for your business.
My Family: (left to right) Maci, Matt, Jackson, Paisley + Me.
Boone Benjamin - Our Rescue Pup.