You’ve got an idea, you found the perfect retail space, but how in the world do you run a business? P.F. Stockists from all over the country are letting us in on how to get started, what they wish they knew before opening doors, and how they continue to grow in our Small Business Advice series. This one is all about making that first leap and going for it, no matter how scary it is.
JUST DO IT
You’ve heard the phrase before, so what’s stopping you? Of course, opening a shop is risky in more ways than one, but when asked what they wish they knew before starting their business, a few shop owners said they’re glad they didn’t have all the answers right away. If you’re aware of what obstacles you’ll face in your journey, would you keep following your dream? Owner Ted Vadakan of Los Angeles’ Poketo says, “Not knowing those challenges allows you to just do it. Sometimes you need that ‘go for it’ mentality to get things done.” Sub Rosa Mercantile owner Madeleine Zinn says, “I'm not sure if there's anything I wish I had known per se, because maybe I wouldn't have trusted myself as much.”
Maybe your current job has nothing to do with opening a shop, starting a business or turning that hobby into a career. And that’s fine! It’s never too late to switch up your path. Grace Kang of New York gift shop Pink Olive says, “The truth is, I never thought I would leave my job as a successful fashion buyer since I loved working in corporate. I had to step out of my comfort zone to realize my true passion: inspiring people to give and create a beautiful living. That’s why I started Pink Olive.” Find out what inspires you, compile the bits of knowledge you’ve naturally acquired over your life, and be okay with not knowing what challenges lie in front of you. Then you're in the mindset to get started!
BE OKAY WITH FAILURE
Here’s the thing: you aren’t always going to get it right. That’s how you learn. Ted from Poketo, who has experience running three locations at once, notes the expenses that come with multiple stores: “With each store, we learn more and more about all of the nuances in real estate, development, and the work that goes into opening something physical. It's not easy and it's not inexpensive.” Dealing with finances and unexpected costs can feel like a failure, whether it be in not meeting sales goals or lacking the funds needed to make big purchases comfortably. However, it’s those hardships that keep you going. Young Blood Boutique’s founder, Rebecca Hanna says she would have liked for someone to tell her failing is fine. To her, “Success doesn’t make you stronger. The wins can provide necessary encouragement and momentum. But the failures make you stronger, and I wouldn't trade them.”
IT'S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
"It's a simple phrase, but [this] helps me calm the chaos and focus on doing my absolute best today without worrying about the past or the future,” says Rebecca of Young Blood. There are so many ways to go about making your shop successful, so don’t get too overwhelmed with comparing yourself to others. No matter how perfectly merchandised a store is, or how many followers they have on social media, your path is yours and it’s made just for you.
Chelsea Moylan, owner of Anomie, had never worked in retail before opening shop, nor had she taken any business, marketing, or fashion classes. “My main work experience was from internships collecting data, working at a probation office, and tutoring inmates at a maximum security prison,” she says, explaining her background in Criminal Justice. Opening a shop doesn’t mean you’ve spent a lifetime preparing for it. All you need is some curiosity and the motivation to figure out what works best for you.
Before opening Sub Rosa Mercantile, Madeleine worked in restaurants and spent a bit of time working retail, but even that experience can’t prepare you for what goes into having your own shop. Sometimes, your business goes in a direction you never intended it to, like Boston General Store owner April admits about opening a second location. She says, “I never really wanted two locations. It was the building that made me expand. Now I'm playing catch up and figuring out how to make two locations work. Probably not the right order, but sometimes life is messy and you’re just trying to figure things out.” The work you put in is what matters, not how fast you get there.
So, if you’re thinking of starting a business, opening a shop, or signing the lease on that space for a second brick-and-mortar… just do it!
Poketo is a Los Angeles based shop known for its bold aesthetic and “Art for Your Everyday” philosophy. A stockist since 2013, we created custom scent Tangerine & Vetiver exclusive for the brand, now available in our shop.
Sub Rosa Mercantile is Denver’s modern take on a classic general store, offering personal accessories, utilitarian home decor and much more. Handcrafted, eclectic, and a hint of vintage are carefully curated to support creative small business owners.
2337 W 44th Ave
Denver, CO 80211
Pink Olive is an inspiring New York boutique specializing in thoughtful gifts that are anything but ordinary. Founder Grace Kang used her experience buying for Bloomingdale’s, Saks.com and Barney’s New York to open the shop dedicated to making the gifting process fun.
439 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10009
Young Blood Boutique is an Atlanta craft and design shop run by artist Rebecca Hanna. With a focus on supporting independent makers and creating a sense of community with their brands, Young Blood carries a selection of well-crafted jewelry, ceramics, accessories and more.
632 North Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306
Anomie is another San Francisco based boutique, featuring a selection clothing, accessories, home good and beauty items. Their website says it best: “Basically, we sell nice things.” To read more about Chelsea and Anomie, check out our IN STOCK feature.
2419 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Boston General Store is a celebration of makers and a passion for well-made goods. Once an online-only retailer, BGS continues to share functional, high-quality products from around the world.
305 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
626 High Street
Dedham, MA 02026
For a full list of P.F. Stockists, check out our Stockist Map to find a shop in your neighborhood.