Whiskey & Wisdom

Making Childhood Dreams a Reality with Cassi Cullen (Owner of Wrightsville Ave. Boutique)

September 28, 2022 Cassi Cullen Episode 34
Whiskey & Wisdom
Making Childhood Dreams a Reality with Cassi Cullen (Owner of Wrightsville Ave. Boutique)
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Show Notes Transcript

Cassi Cullen, owner of Wrightsville Ave. Boutique, joins us this week on the podcast. We talk about her childhood dream of owning a boutique, the importance of finding a niche in a crowded market and living each phase of life to the fullest!

This week, since we're still on 75 Hard we shoutout Blue Cup Roastery in the Cargo District in Wilmington, NC. They always provide the early morning caffeine to keep us going.

How to find Cassi and Wrightsville Ave. Boutique?
Instagram: @wrightsville.ave.boutique
Website: www.wrightsvilleave.com
TikTok: @wrightsvilleave.com

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Thank you all for listening to this week's podcast! If you enjoy listening please consider rating, following, and reviewing the show.

How to find us:
Whiskey & Wisdom: @whiskey.and.wisdom
Chris Kellum: @ctkellum
LinkedIn: Christopher Kellum
Tyler Yaw: @tyler_yaw_
LinkedIn: Tyler Yaw

Welcome back everybody to the whiskey and wisdom podcast. This week, it's just my boy, Tyler and myself here with one of my original friends from the buckle. Miss Cassie, what's up? Wait, what's your last name now? Colin. Colin. She's not a vampire. She's not sparkling. I just saw her outside. So don't worry about that. But yeah, we decided to bring her in and we're doing an early morning. Episode to get her catch around her kid time and her opening of her business. So we're not drinking whiskey, but we are partaking in some blue cup roastery pieces, shout out to blue cup who is also in the cargo district with us. And so they are visited often. Yes. And I mean, obviously they all have blue cups and we kind of mix it up. Tyler's doing a cappuccino. Cassie's got a, a honey latte. I didn't even know. That was a thing that sounds good. That's good. You sweeten it with normal milk. Is that what you're supposed to do? Just milk and honey, honey. Yeah. Mm-hmm yeah, that makes sense. It sounds actually good. I might drink that. And I'm over here drinking Earl gray, not my favorite gray, but I mean, my favorite gray actually I love lady gray. No one knows about that one. But it's a it's more floral. It's sweeter. Okay. It's kind of like the play on lady versus the Earl. Got it. It's more of a bright tea, definitely more of a midday, but yeah, that's what we're drinking on. Yeah. Breaking down the coffee and tea reviews today, mixing it up. so cheers. Don't burn your tongue. Cheers. Is that fun? Cheer? I missed the clink of the glass. I know that's hot. Is it not is your coffee's not hot. It's hot. Oh, make sure I'm not coffee. So like I said, I know Cassie from my days working at buckle. And oddly enough, I know her husband since before buckle mm-hmm he's see. Yes. Oh, that's funny. That was a very interesting day. When I realized who her husband was boyfriend at the time, it was, I was. Oh, I never would've put those two and two together, but Casie, tell us a little bit about yourself. Well, where do I start? I grew up between North Carolina and California had divorced parents and one lived on one side of the coast and one lived on the other, so, oh my goodness. Talking about like, you know, a crazy accent I say I grew up BI coastal, so I. Flying back and forth between the two of 'em and yeah. So love North Carolina specifically Wilmington obviously chose to live here after school. And I am married to my husband, Matt, who is wonderful. And we have two kids. Sebastian and Eley, who's going through the terrible fours. They tell you it's terrible threes, but just wait until four And Sebastian he's three months old. And then I have my business Wrightsville avenue boutique, which is like my dream job, you know? And yeah, just out. Trying to keep up with life. I'm gonna steal Chris's random question. Before we get too far into the rest of your story. What was the biggest difference between both of the coasts living on, especially flying back and forth? And why did you choose the east coast? Well, you know, west coast is a lot more expensive. That might be the biggest difference there no, you know, I was younger living over there. Mm-hmm so I couldn't really tell you the biggest difference in. People or anything like that, but I just have always felt super drawn to Wilmington for whatever reason. My grandmother actually grew up in Wilmington. Okay. And we didn't grow up. I didn't grow up visiting here or anything like that, but she. She has a house right on, or had a house right on church street. And she said she used to bike to rightful beach and rent the paddle boats. Her and her friends would save up ounces and to make a quarter to rent the paddle boats at Greenfield lake and paddle around that was like their fun things to do. So I've just always felt super connected. To Wilmington as a place versus I've, you know, California, my mom living there. That was just where we had lived. Mm-hmm I'd never had any personal connection to it. I see. So where did you go to college? Did you go to college? So I was going to Cape fear and when we were working together at buckle and then our boss at the time, Jordan. Recruited me into the management training program there. So it was either I remember calling my dad and I'm like, you know, I could go to U C w or I can do this Mt program. And I loved buckle at the time. I mean, that's how I met too. Tyler is your wife shopping there? You know? Yeah. But you know, I've Al it's like in my DNA to shop and work in retail. I really believe that. So I loved buckle and it made sense for me at the time to just go ahead and make the move over to the Mt program. That's one of the things that I love about those type of programs, especially if it's something you're passionate about, and we've talked about it with Chris LACO as well, too, if you can find an area that you enjoy and that you love, and you can see yourself thriving. Let someone else pay for that education. Well, yeah. And like, and get paid to learn about it. I mean, it's one of the best of both worlds there. Absolutely. I mean, I probably now have my own business. My little sister's summer where an 11 year age gap mm-hmm and she wants to do the same kind of thing. And I'm like, go get a marketing degree because I've already got like the retail experience. And, you know, I know how to do that side of things in the customer service, which I did learn 90% of from my time at buckle. But. She could really, we could use help on the marketing side. Right. So there's something to be said for having an education. You just, at the time, I didn't know what that I was going to school for accounting. So I don't know how much that would've helped me, you know? Exactly. It's always so interesting because like all these people are complaining like, oh, Hey, you know, we don't want to pay off kids college loans. I'm like, but there's so many things that force you into. and then there's options like you'd got, I mean that not a lot of places offer like the Mt program, I think is one of the, one of the things that buckle did, which was smart and good to like train people up. But I also think some degrees are needed in the world. Well, of course. Yeah. I mean, I wouldn't have the job I had, I wouldn't have gone to school forever and spent a lot of money doing that well, and you know, your experience. Yeah. It's, it's important. I mean, I still feel like I got the college experience. We lived when I lived in Greenville. I was like right beside C's campus. So tailgating and doing all the fun things there, you know? And I think the experience of college and getting out on your own, it's so important. But yeah, if an opportunity comes up and you already kind of know what path you wanna take, then take the opportunity, you know, mm-hmm Yeah. So when did you figure out that you wanted to open up your own boutique? Cuz I know you were a buckle for a while. So I was probably about two or three years old when I realized that um, no seriously though. When other kids were like playing teacher or house, I was playing store. I've literally, I say it's in my DNA. I've always wanted to do that. And it's changed a couple times. You know, when I got my first dog, it was gonna be a dog boutique mm-hmm and then my best friend is gonna open a hair salon next door, you know, I mean, you come up with all these ideas. And then I did feel a little defeated. I think Wilmington has some great boutiques here, especially for women's clothing. And so I was kind of deflated in not wanting to take the risk to open my own because I'm like, there's already so much here. How am I gonna stand out? And how am I gonna be different? But. I had Eely she's she was about six months old when I opened the store and I was ordering so much of her stuff online because Southern stuff, the SMO traditional children's clothes are just not my style. You know, there's nothing wrong with it, but it's just not really what I was looking for for her. And so I'm like, man, I'm ordering so much online. There's gotta be. A store here for that. And there wasn't, I was shocked. There's like nowhere else to shop for your kids. Yeah. So I felt like I had a niche that wasn't filled and then I'm like, you know, as a mom, I kind of know what moms want and what our, you know, your body changes after kids mm-hmm And so that helped me shopping for the women's portion of our store. And it just kind of made sense and I felt like there was a need for it. So it pushed me into going ahead and going for it. Yeah, that, that niche that you found there with mostly newer moms with hearing like the mom's clothing with the kids' clothing, I think is genius too, because like my wife can't go in without spending like tons of money in there because it's like, well, if I get this for her, but I wanna match her. And that whole entire thing too. Yeah. And. And even as a husband, like, it's hard to be like, no, I don't want you both to look nice. Like what are you gonna say? Right. Yeah. Well, you know, I think the people, our biggest spending customers are probably the dads or the men that come in shopping for their wives. And then I'm like, but I do have this for your daughter. And I mean, there's not a dad in the world that can say no to cute outfit for his little girl, you know, or even for little boys, you know, that's a good point. I think I've spent more money in there than Jennifer has. So I mean, I. Plenty in, in there you have, but you don't get to have kids. No, I don't. So like people assume so two fun things. One is called rightful lab boutique. Mm-hmm it is not on rightful lab. don't get lost just so people know, because I went and I was like, oh, let me go find this. Cuz I used to live on rightful lab and I'm like, girl, where's your shop at? where is it on CE scene? Yep. but you know, doesn't sound is good. Yeah. Reine at, you know, when people Google here. Yeah. When you're here visiting, you're gonna Google rights fill boutiques. So, you know, you gotta, there's a little bit of smart give and take there. You, you don't know anything about marketing, but look at that. Yeah. I'm like, I mean, eventually she'll just have a shop in the cargo district too. Like everybody else, cuz we're at the end of rightful avenue. That is true. Never know. You never know. I really have no desire to have a second location. The ultimate dream would be to have like our own clothing line that comes out of the store. Mm-hmm But I'm like very big into sustainable clothing and you know, all the, using the right fabrics, but I also want to keep it, keep it true to ourselves where it's a good price point. Yeah. So there's a lot of logistics to figure out there, but I, I like that you have. A goal. Yeah. Like you've hit cuz you're like, Hey, you know, I wanna open up my own boutique, but you still have the next, it's not like, you're not settling. We were talking about this the other day. Like you always have a goal in life and then once you hit it, like what is pushing you to go to the next point? Yeah. Well, you know, I just recently since I've opened the store, I've never really taken time off. I maybe like a couple days here and there, but I had to, because I had Sebastian mm-hmm and so I ended up taking off almost like. Probably, I think it was about 10 weeks. And so I had to have the right girls in place to run the business and I'm like, I really feel like I have the dream team over there. They're amazing. And they're the right fit. And so now that I know the store's okay, if I'm not in there, I can start to, you know, kind of shift my focus and look at some other things. Yeah. How to make it bigger and better, you know? Yes. I think it's really funny too, because you open the boutique as like. Would people like a mommy and me like a mm-hmm kind of boutique where it's like mothers getting clothes and then their kids matching. And I know originally it was mostly like little girl stuff, and now you got the boy stuff cuz you gotta get Sebastian some cool, cool clothing. But. People who aren't moms can find really great stuff there too. Yeah. Yeah. Well, so we're known for having the mommy and me matching stuff, but majority of our stuff, that's something else I would credit to like my time working at buckles, we styled people so much. Mm-hmm so I style a ton of family photo shoots and we do have that select few things. I think Jennifer, last time she was in got like an identical matching outfit. Yeah. That's really cute. And you can't find those anywhere else. But a lot of times our matching stuff comes from coordinating things that aren't even the same brand or anything else. It's just being able to put it together for people so that, you know, they look nice when the whole family's together, everybody kind of coordinates. And that's why I spend a lot of money because yeah, like working at buckle people, I work in jewelry now. So people always look at me weird when I'm like, when a guy walks up and says, oh, Hey, you. Why are you only wearing one bracelet? You should have three of 'em and they should, you have alternating color. So it kind of goes with any outfit and they're like, what I'm like, yeah. Working at buckle, you learn how to properly style somebody mm-hmm and yes, layers work, but not all the time. Right. You gotta know how to properly do it. And anytime I go into the boutique and Cass's like, what do you want? I'm like, Hmm. Emily needs an outfit. And so then I'm stuck in there cuz it, cuz I can never just be, I'm not the guy. Who's like, oh, I'll just buy a shirt. I'm like, well she needs at least two shirts and this needs cardigan. Yeah. I'm like I gotta match up everything. Well, the other reason why I like to come in too and why I spend money there is if I decide to like. Buy like clothing for Jennifer. I have no clue what she's gonna like to be completely honest. So I could just go in there and be like, so looking something for Jennifer. Yeah. What do you think? Cause like, you know, her style perfectly and everything and you pick everything out and you know what size she is for the most part. And she comes in, I. Put everything in the bag and bring it home and she loves it all. So, yeah. Yeah. And you know, that's so we have a system set up that we can actually like look up their purchase history. Mm. So you think that I'm like this magic magician that remembers all their sizes, but I actually have it saved in our system. But it helps because now that we have a full team in. If I'm not in there, which I, you know, I'm still there most days mm-hmm But when I did take a step back, these girls, you know, they're styling people that I've been styling for the last, you know, 10, 12 years. Right. And they're coming in, looking for me expecting that same service. So Yeah. Now we have some other magicians in the shop's too that know everyone sizes. It's amazing. The magic of notes. Yes. Yeah. Right in my job too, we have notes as well. And like when you're talking with another advisor and you come and call and he's not there and you get me and just being able to pick up for the last person left off is just something that, that means a lot to a lot of people. And that's what you've been able to do. So even if it is notes and everything in there, cuz no one can remember everything. It's just those extra Touche. Because a lot of other boutiques don't do that or they won't take the time to pull up the notes. Right? Yeah. So it is taking that extra time. Oh yeah. I mean, that's what keeps people shopping local. Yeah. It's, you know, I mean, our prices are more expensive than target mm-hmm and more expensive than Belk, you know, or the other retailers you go to, but. Your experience going into a shop is so different. And I can tell you guys, I don't know if you've ever seen the memes that are like, when you place an online order. Someone in a small business is doing a happy dance, but it's literally like that. That's the first thing I do in the morning. I check my email to see like, if any online orders came through and still, I mean, we get several a week right now and every single time I'm like Matt, another online order, you know, it's like the most exciting thing ever. So yeah. I mean, we talked about that on the, I guess it's the last podcast and like voting with your dollars type of thing. Like you can choose to keep that dollar in the community or a dollar 50 in the community when you could have spent a dollar at target, but keeping it in the community means so much more. And the value that you gave to that business owner is so much more than giving it to a target. Oh yeah, for sure. And even I. I could get on a set box. Talk about as something I could talk about forever, but, you know, even if you're. even just, if you're gonna shop at target, still do it local, because it's still supporting our local people. Right. You know, versus, and if you're gonna order online order the two hour pickup, you know? Yeah. I mean, support, like your people who are locally staffed, even mm-hmm versus ordering everything on Amazon and right. You know, your who even knows who you're sporting at that point. Yeah. I, that that's something else I talk about too. Like when. Like no one thinks about the people that work in the Walmarts or work in the, like the like Verizons and stuff. Like I used to work for Verizon when I was in high school. So if you ordered it online, you're literally getting it from the C. Like facility for the most part. And if you came in, you were supporting me. Cause I got commissioned from that. Right. And like, and that fed my family. Yeah. So same, same thing. Yeah. I agree. Yeah. It makes a difference. I mean, we know that working off commission when we've worked together and you know, if people order online and then they come in the store to return and you're like, oh, why didn't you come in here to begin with know? So, and I think a lot of it isn't people just like choosing not to, I think a lot of times people just don't know genuinely don't know mm-hmm Like trailing from the online. It's always good to be able to have that and support local businesses. But I think it's also cool that you've trained your team, or I know when we work together, like how to convert that person, who's like, well, I bought this online. I want to return it. Like having the mentality of converting somebody from an online, only person to like, I want to come shop in person. Because I know that you have an eye and you have the true mindset of like how to put this together because I'm returning it cuz it doesn't fit. Well, of course it doesn't fit because you decided to buy a large, which is a Japanese like XL And so like coming in person, I feel. adds to the ceremony. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it's a relationship too, you know? I don't know if you guys have ever heard the statistic, but like 90% of your business comes from 10% of your customers. Mm-hmm and it's so true, you know, and our little shopping center that we're in, we have mid now Midtown nutrition on one side of us and then the tap tea bar on the other. So it's kind of like a social event, you know, you go get your tea or your shake. Yeah. And then you walk over and you shop and we talk. I mean, I have people come in, literally just to talk, you know, they walk, they're like, oh man, this spider's cute. All right, I'll grab this really quick. And then they're out the door, you know? But it's a relationship that you build it's I genuinely don't feel like I'm going back to work. Yeah. When every morning it's like, I can't wait to get there. That's why it's taken you so long to get me over here. Cause I'm like I could be at, by store, you know, doing fun stuff. Yes. Cassie was. To come on pretty much like when we started since inception. Yeah. But she is just that busy. Like obviously she was pregnant at the front end and took time off and then it's just. So hard cuz to get all our schedules aligned. Yeah. Yeah. And then the passion that you have for it too, I think that's, that's the most telling is, like you said, you don't wanna spend time outside of the store because you love being in it so much. Yeah. That's been really interesting. So when I had Eely, I was managing the Victoria secret in Mayfair at the time mm-hmm and they actually shout out to Victoria's secret for nothing other than a 16. Paid maternity leave, which was wonderful. It was, I've never even heard of that. That's genuinely the only good thing that they do for their employees, but anyways, no shade on Victoria but it was so hard to go back to work after that. And, you know, I like. Cried dropping early off at daycare, but you know, you get, you get hooked on this paycheck and kind of become dependent on it, especially if you put your kids in, into daycare of some sort. And so I had to go back and it was really sad. It was really hard on me, which was another reason I ended up opening up the store. I'm like, I need a little bit more flexibility in my schedule. You know, I love what I do working retail. Really not Victoria's secret at the time, but I had considered going to other retailers, but he worked such a crazy schedule. Yeah. And it makes it really hard to be a mom, which is something else that I'm super invested in. So. When I had Sebastian and taking time off from the store was kind of hard because I feel like the store's almost like my third child, you know? Oh yeah. And so I'm like at home doing online stuff, but and I would take him into the store with me, but it, you know, when I did end up moving him over to daycare, it was a little bit easier transition one because I it's the same place I took early too. And they're really sweet, but also because I knew where I was investing my time and that's really an investment in his future as well. You. Something I wanted to ask you about coming on here too, is, well, first of all, I just give you major props for opening a boutique, because that is extremely frightening to me. and, and I'm, I'm sure it was for you too, but the reason why is the inventory part? Because all of the business that I've ever started sold, quit, whatever, have all been serviced, cuz I've never wanted to sit on inventory. So how was managing the inventory and how do, I mean, don't give away your secrets of course, but like like how do you find what you're gonna have in there and how do you kind of determine if it's gonna sell. That's a good question. So when I first opened, it's so funny to look back now and I'm like, I don't know how on earth I sold that. you know, I'm like some of the stuff I had because I had no experience on the buying side. Right. And so I started out by what brands did I love for my daughter? So one of my biggest brands that I carry is Ry crew. And I just DMed them on a Instagram, I think. And I'm like, Hey, I'm starting a store. And I just like bugged the crap out of people. Yeah. To get the right, you know, who do I email? How do I get through to someone mm-hmm and so we picked up Riley and crew, and if you Google like wholesale women's clothing companies, you're gonna get like the China knockoffs that you can actually order on Amazon for as cheap as you're paying for 'em wholesale. So it really started by choosing what brands I loved and then reaching out to them and hoping that they would let me sell, because it's actually kind of hard to get brands. You know, these brands that have a built up reputation don't wanna just be in any store in any spot. Yeah. So I have another friend who's about to, up in a shop. A lot of brands are like, well, you have to be open for a certain amount of time before we'll even consider you mm-hmm which is, you know, getting your footing is kind of hard, but once we opened, then you start to see what sells, right. And you do start to build up. Kind of the brands. I feel like Riley and crew wasn't really that well known when I first started and now people come in and they're, you know, when we have a drop, especially in the summertime because people shop the matching swimsuits. Oh yeah. So when we have a Riley and crew drop, I mean, we know that the store is gonna be popping that morning, you know? Oh yeah. And then I just, now I analyze the reports and see what's selling and then order from there. Yeah. Very good. I think that's. I, I always think about that too, because where I'm at currently, I know our company has buyers and that's all their job is to analyze reports and like, see it. But I feel like you have to wear both hats because buyers are just like, oh, Hey, this sold. So we should order it again. And this sold, so, or that didn't sell, so we don't need to order it. But being in the storefront, you can actually. Oh, did this get any touches on it? Did someone actually like debate it? They didn't like the fit of it and you can like actually process a little bit more mm-hmm yeah. Well, and you have a lot more control when you're in the storefront because. I mean, I can have a top sitting on a rack for a year, literally a year, and then if it's not selling, it's like, okay, well I'm gonna wear this. I'm gonna post it on Instagram. I'm gonna style it. And then when people see it on and you know, it kind of creates that excitement around the product. So sometimes getting through inventory is just something as simple as me deciding that we've gotta move that inventory, you know? But, yeah. so talking about styling, did the girls, I'm assuming they're all like female type or F I don't know that work with you. Did you, did they have a styling background when they came to you or did you like kind of help educate them? Cuz you said like even when you're not in the store, they do a really great job of helping. People, cause I know everyone's style thingss differently even between me and you. Right. We worked with the same customer and they'd come in. They're like, I want this kind of outfit. So I'm gonna talk to Cassie or if they want a different style to come talk to me. Yeah, for sure. It still is about the same. So the girls that I have working for me, none of them have a styling background. One was a teacher, which, you know, I feel like every teacher right now is pretty much, you know, you hear about 'em all going to different career paths, but one was a teacher all of, well, no, not all of 'em are moms. I was gonna say all of 'em are moms, but one of them is my little sister summer and she's like, who does most of the modeling for us? So if you're, if you're being styled by summer, you're most likely getting like a younger. She's, you know, young and fresh and super excited where I'm a little bit more mature. I'm probably not gonna wear crop top and, you know, the same kind of things that she would, but they're all educated on looking at women's body types and asking the right questions to understand, like, what are you gonna feel comfortable in? You know? And I pretty regularly try on the close and post 'em on Instagram mm-hmm and I kind of talk through that and our girls all watch our Instagram stories, so they kind of know the fit of things or, you know, What type of body they would fit. Because I talk about that on Instagram, when I'm educating the customers, I'm educating our team at the same time. That was another thing I feel like I picked up or you picked up from Buckle's like when I was there, when you're, before they even let you like sell to people, it's like, you need to try on every one of these things to know how it would fit or who it would fit. And then we'd sit back and be like, all right. So. Explain this, like, how does that fit on you? How does that how do you think it would fit on somebody else to properly get to the right client? Yeah, for sure. And we have all different body types, you know, summer is like 10 feet taller than me and have my size. And then we have Savannah who's really petite. And then you have Jenna who is, you know, just like a full figured woman and. It's interesting to see how different clothes fit on different people. Mm-hmm you know, so and I think our customer appreciates that I have Katie who's one of my she's actually my cousin. But she's about a size 10. And she'll do Tryon hauls for us. I ship her clothes to try on because it's so well received by our customer base because they're like, you know, I mean, you can look at stuff on a size two all day, but real realistically, if you're not a size two, that doesn't really help you. Yeah, right. So being able to see it on someone, who's more like the normal woman's body is very helpful. And so yeah, so I'll ship Katie packages and she does try on hauls and it works for both of us because 90% of the time she wants all the things she tried. yes. Good marketing. Yeah. so it's just helpful, you know, it's kind of all hands on deck. I love that I'm like, I'll totally volunteer. I don't know if you're our customer base, Chris I'll volunteer Emily to do a Tryon hall for you. Oh yeah. I'm try. We are, we're do part of the 75 hard is like, you have to take a progress picture every day. And she's so nice about it. Like she's always smiling and I'm just like, Hmm and I'm like, yes, I could smile, but I just feel like being Hmm. All the time and hurting that's photos, but I feel like. We get through all this and I can eventually then hopefully I'll get back and I wanting to be, to be in front of the camera. So then we can eventually like build something up and, you know, get some people to send us some clothes. Cuz I'd love her to, oh, I would love it. Get discounts on clothing. Yeah. I don't want free stuff. I just would like a discount yeah. Have her come in and do a trial hall. Don't tempt me, Random question, cuz I always have at least one when opening your business cuz we were talking about this the other week and cuz you, you actually own it. Have you, do you see people who lit literally come in are like, oh this is cute. Can I get a discount? You know. I don't and I, I really don't have very many people ask for discounts if they do they're people who don't know me really. So and it's not, you know, I would love honestly, to be able to give everyone that I know a discount, but if I did that, I'd be discounting a hundred percent of my clothes. Mm-hmm Because especially when you're first starting out a small business, your supporters are your friends and family. Yeah. So if you're giving everyone a discount, you're not gonna survive. So no, I don't. And maybe one day will be a big enough company that I'll have like a friends and family discount. But for right now, those are the people I depend on and we really. I mean you've shopped in there. Yeah. So, you know, kind of what our price points are like. We really don't set our margins very big because I want it to be fair pricing. I want the average mom, the average woman to be able to walk into our store. And if they love something to be able to buy it without being like, Hmm, can I buy that? Or can I go out to dinner this weekend? You know? Yeah. So I really don't have a huge margin on our clothes to be able to discount. If I did discount 'em, I'd have to mark 'em up a little bit more to before the discount, you know, see, and thank you for saying that. Cuz a lot of people assume that everything's marked up so high that you can discount it. But I feel like if you have a good product and you price it, right, you there's no need or space for a. Well, yeah, I was actually, that was a huge eye opener for me when I first opened the business, because I just assumed, which I think most people do that, you know, when you buy something wholesale, it's so cheap, you know, you're like, well, you get jeans for $10 and you sell 'em for 70, but that's really not the case. So most of our. One, any of our big name brands that you see? So like riling crew, feather for arrow Fox and the mermaid, those prices are set. I don't set those prices. And normally if, if it ever gets marked down on sale, you're probably paying less for it than I did. Mm-hmm because in order to carry those big name brands and have that drawn to your store, which is what those do, you know, people know Riley and crew, or they know Fox and mermaid. So they're coming to your store to buy that. I'm still paying a pretty premium price too for it. Yeah. You're essentially paying their marketing costs and everything for it on top of it. And I don't think people realize that. And buckle is very similar to where I came from with Hillberg diamonds. Mm-hmm is. You provide quality and you provide a service. So you don't get a discount on that. You are buying what you're buying well. Yeah. And you know, there's brands out there and there's boutiques out there. You can go. Like, when I went to Atlanta in February, there are brands that you can get huge margins on, which is really tempting. Right. But then you have, you run the risk of people going home and washing something and then it doesn't fit right after, or. It tears up after a couple wearers, their zipper broke or whatever. And we have that happen. Sure. Occasionally, but I'm able to take it back. I mean, we have a shit, probably shouldn't say this out loud, we have a really flexible return policy, but because I stand behind the products that we sell, you know, I'm not gonna sell you something, that's a piece of crap. So if it falls apart, one, I'm reaching out to the brand that sold it to me. Yeah. But also I'm always gonna take it back because I don't want our customers thinking I'm trying to sell. You know, a $1 shirt for $20. Yeah. And it probably doesn't happen often. So you probably no doesn't before to do that. Doesn't exactly. Yeah. I'd rather take the hit and the customer be happy. Mm-hmm than, you know, send somebody away. I don't want anyone to spend a hundred dollars with me that they don't wanna spend, you know? Right. Yeah. There's a, I, when I went to school originally, I went for operations and some of the best service companies that are out there, one of their guarantees. If you don't get the service that you're expecting, they will pay you a hundred dollars. So you get your full refund and then they pay you a hundred dollars on top of it. And people think like, oh, well, aren't people going to abuse this, but it's actually less than 1%. that are gonna reach out and say like, Hey, I had this horrible service and that's that one time like fluke, that something crazy happened. Cause if you get good service, you're not trying to screw over the company that gave you good service. Well, yeah, for sure you want that company to stay in business. Right. You know, and it also, I mean, like I said before, most of our customers are repeat customers that mm-hmm, stick with us for a long time and I have a relationship with them. So, you know, I'm always gonna make sure they're taken care of, right? Yes. It reminds me, cuz school has started. I have to come. I, I always forget. I'm like, oh, wait, school started. And typically that's when I do like most kids, most people do back to school shopping. And I'm like, mm, once you're in school, then I'll do the shopping. Cuz I, I know seasons change and I know how product rotates and if I really wanted her back to school stuff, I probably should have bought it in July. Good point. If anyone doesn't know we're. Isn't aren't most of your clothes? Are you still like a season before, or are you trying to actually be in the season? So we order everything I'm currently ordering right now for spring and summer 2023. So we order everything in it very far in advance, which honestly, I like it. We're just coming off of spring and summer. I'm the stuff that I'm currently marking down and trying to get out the door to make room for all of our winter product. Is educating me on what to buy for next year. And it's nice because it's on the top of my mind. So I, I kind of prefer it that way, but yeah, we start getting, being in Wilmington. It's so hot. So a lot of times, yes. I'll have relationships with these brands that I work with. You know, you work through someone who represents them. I can ask them to like, hold sweaters for me until late August or whatever, so that we're not getting stuff before we even have like a chilly morning, you know? Yeah. All right. Gosh, that was the worst. Like I always remembered when I worked at buckle and it was like, oh, Hey, all your bathing suits drop into February. And you're like, what? Yeah. Like no one wants a bathing suit or we get all the leather jacket. Second week of August and nobody in Wilmington is gonna buy a leather jacket until November 2nd. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's hard to sell that stuff. So, I mean, that's another thing being in business for a little bit longer is you do start to build those relationships and The people that I'm working with, know the store well enough to know when we want things. So we'll set it up to different drops because newness is what drives our business. You know? So when I post, we got a new shipment in mm-hmm people are really excited to come in. Now, if I post, we got sweaters in July, nobody is excited to come in and shop with those. And then by the time that it's sweater season, they're not new anymore. They've already seen those. It's not exciting. So yeah, our, our brands for the most part will hold 'em unless there's something that's really, really special. And and I know that it'll sell out before then or the brands already sold out of 'em and they're gonna, let me get a few in July. I'll take I'll go ahead and hold it in the back room until I think it'll sell I just think that's kind of cool. Yeah. The randomness that is Chris Because I do. I always have random thoughts and questions throughout the day. When it comes to picking out kids' clothing, which do you prefer the boy or the girl clothing? Yeah. You know little girls. There's so much cute stuff for them. You know, you've got the bows and I mean, Eely gets so excited if I get her dress and it has matching purse or whatever, you know? I mean, girls love that stuff. Yeah. So I enjoy all the different pieces that work together for little girls. But when you, because little boys clothing, It's so hard to find really, really cute when you get something or I see something and it's just like, oh my gosh, this is the cutest. I get more excited over that because there's an abundance of cute girls stuff out there. Mm-hmm Yeah. And there's not for little boys. I think that's, what's really built our business and why we're growing this year is because. I've really tapped into that boy, mom market mm-hmm and there's not, there's like nowhere to shop for cute boys clothes. Yeah, no. So, and also again, I mean, knowing like the little tube socks are really cool for little boys and hats, I mean, cool. Little boys hats, and then we get 'em that match with dad, or, you know, if dads want to, it's kind of fun. So little boy stuff. I probably get more excited when I. A good piece, but I find more little girls cool pieces. My son Roman has loved the hats that I brought home from. Oh yeah. From your store. Yeah. So we sell a ton of hats. We have like a pretty much like a hat wall. Now at this point, I was surprised. I didn't, I didn't expect your answer to be that. Well, also having a little boy now makes a difference, you know, because I want him dressed really cute all the time. My daughter you would think she would be dressed to the nines, which she was all the way up until I told you guys for is hard. We just went to her school orientation and she was probably the only child in her little friends group that wasn't wearing clothes from our store because she was wearing high heels in a princess dress. So I probably get more excited over with little boys too, because my little boy still lets me dress him. Right. Versus my daughter who she just has a mind and a style, all her own. at least she, she does have her own style though. Yeah. really something sure. yeah, the pause. I'm trying to think if she ever listens to this, how can I be kind? You know, she's got a couple years for actually. Yeah. Unless you listen to this in the car yeah. I'm gonna throw it back a little bit. You opened right before COVID. Yeah. Was it October? Yeah. So we opened October strategically knowing that we'd be going into the holiday season. So October, continuously year after year is our biggest month for us. Mm-hmm which is kind of crazy. Normally you would think that would be like November, December. Yeah. October is always our busiest month and I think it's cuz we have like an anniversary party and stuff like that. Yeah. But yeah, so we opened in October, 2019 and I guess it was maybe March. Yeah. We closed the doors yeah, because COVID and. It was truthfully like one of the scariest times of my life because Matt and I took pretty much all of our savings to open the store. We're debt free. Holy, but oh yeah. That was like one of our requirements, but yeah, so all of our money's tied up in a clothing store and an inventory and we were closed and that was scary. So I really. Comfortable on social media. And again, friends and family will like get you through anything. And Wilmington is such a special place because people do want to shop and support local. And I remember I was going in the store, you know, early schools closed and. I was taking her in there with me and we were closed because we had to be mm-hmm but people would still be out in the shopping center and knock on the door and be like, you know, Hey, are you guys open? Can I come in and shop? Can I order online? Like, how can I help you get through the pandemic? You know, it was like such a humbling, but also special thing to experience. Mm-hmm that people that don't even know me. Or, you know, had never shopped our store before. We're trying to make sure that local businesses were staying afloat. So that's amazing. Yeah, it was really cool. And I mean, we had orders from I mean, friends and family all over the country that were just trying to, to help us get through it. And we did, we made it through it. You know, we were only closed, I think maybe like two or three months. And then there was like the weird, you know, everyone's scared to shop and scared to spend money and scared about what's gonna happen. but yeah, on the other side, but I'm like now going through that, anything that's coming our way. I'm like, well, if we can survive, COVID in our first year of business, right? Surely surely we can survive this, you know? So it gave us a backbone and. Kind of prepared us. Yeah. It's it was sad to see how many businesses closed, but I think that was also an opportunity for the people that you could tell really wanted it well, and I think we are, so I was so fortunate that we were new, which sounds crazy. Mm-hmm but I didn't have a huge staff. Right. I didn't have a ton of inventory because we had just opened. So our inventory was a lot smaller than it is now. And our Our company that we leased the building from was so kind to say that we could defer our rent for one month. That which case both rents would be due. So right. You know, they didn't really help us out a ton, but no, I didn't have a staff to pay and I, I was still doing most things solo. I had two girls that worked for me at the time, but they were so part-time, it was kind of a take it or leave it. Right. Kind of thing. So it really helped us through versus I don't know. I mean, a lot of the businesses at close were bigger businesses that were used to doing bigger numbers. Makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, you do order now at this point, I order everything so far in advance at the time, I was just like treading water, trying to stay float. So I was ordering things on a as needed basis. Mm-hmm so I didn't have all these shipments piling up and unable to sell 'em that's interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Don't think about things like. I feel like we were really lucky. I our neighbors, Lula blue, shout out to Lucy and her team. She actually has two stores. Yeah. And she's been doing this forever. She has an amazing job at it. And she had, she's like, girl, I'm getting shipments every day and we weren't even open, you know, so, oh, so you're just piling up. Yeah. And you know, it's just, you're having to spend all this money and you can, a lot of times, I don't even remember half the stuff I ordered at market, you know, you go and you have a budget. you're and you kind of have it laid out mm-hmm but you don't really know a hundred percent what to expect. So you're getting packages and it's charging your card. It charges you when it ships mm-hmm And so that was kind of, I know that was hard on them. Yeah. Couldn't imagine that. Yeah. Your door closed, but your credit cards still chaining really? yeah. yeah. Stressful process for sure. How was it going to Atlanta and doing all of the shopping and stuff in there? Do you find it like exciting and exhilarating or is it just like an extra thing to put on your list? I love it. I wish I could go every day. you know, I'm going this Friday to a smaller market in Charlotte. Okay. And I'd love to be able to go to the Denver markets and and even like magic in Vegas, it would be so much fun, but. It's interesting balancing being a mom because I do, I am very present with my children. Right. So leaving them and going somewhere for more than a day or two is still really hard on me. I get it. So a lot of the stuff that I'm doing, I just order through, I, you know, my brands already kind of know my style. I can do like zoom meetings, but if I have an opportunity to go to market and it aligns with me having, you know, my mom or my mother-in-law come help with the kids for two. Then I'll definitely take the opportunity. Right? I love it. It, it definitely recharges me. It makes me excited and it's the easiest way to find new brand. Okay. Interesting. Yeah, but it's like 14 floors and probably, oh wow. Thousands of vendors. So, gosh, I didn't even realize it's the breadth of that. Yeah. Well, the only reason I could kind of guess that is because CES, which is like the tech world. Equivalent to like market is in Vegas in January most years. And that thing is massive. Mm-hmm and then Swiss. I was gonna say, yeah, like the watch industry they've actually split it up into, I think two shows now. Yeah. But before it literally was like three floors of a convention center in Switzerland that like it's dedicated to it. And every person, like every company had a full build. like, I'm like, you guys just literally built a 3000 square foot apartment in this place and it's just, eh, we're showcasing like eight watches this year. Yeah. Just for the week. Yeah. it's craziness. So, but there're also, there's so many clothing brands. Mm-hmm, there's a lot of clothing brands and there's a lot of fatigues. I was like shocked when I was there. I went with my friend, Sarah and. We were shocked. Like how many boutique owners there are then? How many people are there shopping at market? I mean, I expected it to not be that busy, but it's kind of like black Friday. Wow. Especially if you are shopping, they have like, the fast fashion is what you would call it. You know, you're. Brands that have bigger margins, but mm-hmm, cost a little bit less. Mm-hmm those floors are absolutely insane. And each floor that you go up kind of gets a little bit more expensive, so it kind of weeds out some of that. But yeah, I was shocked how many and how many different people stores, you know, there's like a thousand boutique owners walking down the hallway with you and everybody looks different and has different styles, but we're all there doing the same thing. Right. So it's kind of. Hmm. So we are coming to the end, unfortunately, cuz you do probably have to get across town and open your store up. Oh yeah. But I guess we do have to ask our last question for you. So if you were to tell your younger self anything, what would it be? Hmm. You know, I, I. Share the advice that I share with my little sister. Yeah. And I feel like you just have to really live each phase of life to the fullest. Mm-hmm so you have to, you know, when you're a kid be a kid, when you're in college, I mean just party it up, kiss all the boys, you know, do what you wanna do have all the late nights really live it up. So then you can appreciate what your next stage of life is. And right now I'm in the stage of life of being a mom. And I'm trying to really. Live it up and give that 100% so that when that phase of life passes, I can appreciate the next phase. I love that. Hmm. You know, I don't think anyone said that yet. I don't think so. I was think of that too. Yeah. Good job. Thank you. I love it. Um, So All right. CAS. So, because we know you're on the boutique, where can people find you guys on the inner. Oh, you can find us on Instagram. Okay. Writes for lab boutique. You can find us online, right. To lab.com. We're on Facebook, but I'm not the best we're on TikTok, but I'm a little old for that. So I'm just trying to keep, but some are post talks. Summer does post talks. Yeah. Yeah. That's the nice thing about having her around. Yeah. So you can find us on. Social media platforms. Most Instagrams were the most active on our website. And then of course I would love for people to stop in and shop with us in the store. And where are you guys at? We're on right. Rights Phil avenue. we're on race scene drive, right by Midtown nutrition and blue surf cafe. Nice. And if you're like me, it's the section before islands tacos or if you're like me it's right before. so every, so for the healthy people, as well as the alcoholics and for the people who just like cheap tacos, that's how I afford it. I just buy cheap tacos. Yeah. But yeah, definitely go check out Cassie, her team over at rice lab boutique. Like I said, they have some of the coolest stuff each season and ILOG legit am in. At least once a season to buy something mm-hmm for Emily, great way to, you know, buy a gift card or if you need help for the moms to be. Cause I know I got a lot of friends who are popping out kids so she has some really cool stuff. Definitely check 'em out. Thank you guys for listening, supporting us. Please leaving lovely five star review. Like I say all the time, if you ain't got nothing nice to say, don't say it at all, but I mean, there are except. But still leave five stars. Yes, right. Leave five stars. And give us a message on a DM on Instagram and give us all the criticism there. There But yeah. Thank you for coming on, KA. Yeah. Thanks you guys. Thanks. Appreciate it. Cheers.