My 10-year-old daughter recently joined me at the Chicago Stylemax to buy the next line of inventory for our Satori Boutique. This was her first time attending the quarterly show and I did not really know what to expect. As the youngest of eight in this blended family, would she get bored? Was she old enough to handle it? She really surprised me and I am so proud of her. The Stylemax is on the seventh floor of the massive 4.2 million square feet Merchandise Mart, which was the largest in the world when Marshall Field & Co built the twenty-five story building in 1930. I have been there many times and the experience can be overwhelming for even seasoned retailers searching for that next hot item. When you step off the elevator, hundreds of vendors fill long isles of wholesale women's' clothing & accessories. It is fascinating to step back and watch shop owners think through their buying cycle and determine what they are willing to gamble on for successful sales. All the styles, colors, sizes, and quantities are truly a roll of the dice and swipe of the credit card. A small business store's success and a family's financial stability can grow or fail with one bad day of prospecting. No pressure! Dare to be fabulous and Rise Up Beautiful!
Our two stores and online business cater to women with fashionable, chic clothing and accessories but not children… until now. You see, my daughter Satori wants to carve out some space for things that her friends would like to buy (in her store) while shopping with their Mom. She heard that this Stylemax show had candles, scrunchies, bracelets, hats, belts, socks, and other VSCO-girl things that she might like. Yes, VSCO (pronounced vis-co, look it up) is a GenZ subculture that she taught me about today. So, off to market we went as I thought of the old adage "teach a man to fish…", so I taught a girl to shop! Except this is not your typical kind of shopping. I taught her how to look for those things that other people would like and would be willing to buy with their hard-earned money. We had quite the conversation about wholesale versus retail price points and how that turns into a margin if you do it right. How cash-and-carry means you leave with the inventory today compared to pre-sale orders that we will not see for several months. She learned about the cost of goods sold as well as ideas for staging and promoting. She had the chance to negotiate volume discounts and minimum purchase thresholds. The concept of overhead really threw her for a loop though when I told her about "my cut" of her profits.
That led to more conversation about what it really takes to be an entrepreneur and start your own business. And, how hard it has been trying to be a good mother while also building something from scratch on a shoestring budget. I have been blessed tremendously with great shopping friends and an amazing husband that believes in me. Nearly ten years in the business has not been easy but I have learned so much that I now get to inspire my little girl (and her seven siblings). If I teach a girl to shop the Chicago Stylemax, maybe someday she will take over the family business and my experiences will help her be more successful than my wildest dreams. That girl is Satori.
Rise up beautiful! XOXO - Nicole