Meet Lauren, the entrepreneur and owner behind chic, festival-friendly boutique Indigenous. Not only is Lauren stylish and savvy beyond reason, but she's a smart business women who knows her target audience well. Read on to see what it takes to own, brand and manage a boutique!
Q: What propelled you to pursue the path of entrepreneurship, and how did you pinpoint your niche market?
A: This is an interesting question because it reminds me of when we would debate in the classroom whether a person is born an entrepreneur or can learn how to be one. I personally think it is a little of both, however, in my case I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was a little girl I would sell lemonade on the side of the road, I sold Girl Scout cookies and I would play “office” in my room instead of playing with dolls. Ever since I can remember I always envisioned myself owning my own business and whenever I would picture myself grown up and in the real world it was never working under anyone else. I also have a type-A personality which can either be a blessing or a nightmare, but at the end of the day I feel that I’ve chosen the path I was meant for.
With that being said, I started Indigenous out of my own passion for the fashion & retail industry and I think that’s important for someone who is thinking about starting their own business – you have to do what you love. With Indigenous, I don’t just own it – I live and breathe it every day because I am an Indigenous customer. I wanted to target world travelers, music festival attendees, free-spirits and those who like unique finds, but also people who care about how their purchasing decisions effect society. Many brands out there already cater to these markets but I’m taking it to the next level. While focusing on festival chic, bohemian fashion, I’m targeting the quality conscious fashionista as well as the socially conscious shopper. With Indigenous, I want to offer that boutique shopping experience while emphasizing products that are ethically produced and brands that contribute to society. So not only can you snag your next Coachella outfit but you can feel good about the purchase you’re making as well!
Q: What are the biggest challenges and rewards of owning an online boutique?
A: Running an online boutique is not as easy as many people think. When I first started telling friends and family about my new venture, many times the response I got was, “How hard can it be to sell clothes?!” And the answer is: VERY. When running an online business you have to think about everything else that goes into it: website management, graphic design, social media marketing, packaging/shipping orders, customer service, search engine optimization, photos and video production, etc. It is much harder online because the customer is only looking at your products through a screen. They can’t touch them or try them on. You have to sell the products with images, video and enticing product descriptions. This is where social media marketing pays a huge role, because as soon as a potential customer sees a sweater they love on the Facebook page, they can jump to that exact product on the website with just one click.
On the other hand, having an online business opens up so many doors. Essentially, my store is open 24/7 to customers in any location, and I don’t have the overhead a brick-and-mortar store would. Having Indigenous online makes it easier to reach people in volume and to capture sales I might otherwise not have made if customers had to travel to get to me. Everything is online these days and even if I had a physical store, a website would still be essential. On top of having a website, the mobile version has proved to be a benefit as well (last month 36% of sales came directly from a mobile device). People can literally make a purchase on-the-go!
Q: Where do you see Indigenous in 5 years?
A: Even though Indigenous has only been up for a few months, it certainly feels like it’s been 5 years to me. I have a lot of plans for Indigenous and so many things I want to try with this business. In 5 years from now, I see Indigenous growing with 1 or 2 brick-and-mortar locations. I would like to be in the process of launching an exclusive clothing line for Indigenous (ethically produced, of course) and have an established non-profit that proceeds from sales can go toward – I see something with social entrepreneurship and fashion design. I also see the possibility of venturing out into men’s apparel – I can’t tell you how many people have asked me if I sell men’s clothing and I always feel terrible when I have to tell them no!
Q: Any words of advice for fellow 20-something entrepreneurs?
A: The best advice I can offer fellow entrepreneurs (especially women) is that when you’re feeling extreme anxiety, when you’re scared about the unknown, when you’re feeling lonely from isolation, when you feel discouraged and when you’re feeling like giving up – just take a deep breath and know that what you’re feeling is completely normal and know that it’s OK. Starting a business is an emotional rollercoaster, and no matter how much you plan or how much you think you have things under control, things are going to happen out of nowhere and you have to be able to adapt to any situation. The last bit of advice I can offer is to never lose sight of what your mission is with your business. Come up with a mantra, a short 3-5 word mantra to describe your vision. Live by it and lead by example for your company. For Indigenous, my mantra is “fashion to feel good about," and with this in mind I will never lose track of my original mission.
In love with all that Indigenous has to offer? We are, too! Keep up with Lauren and her boutique on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, @shopindigenous. What are your favorite pieces from the boutique? Tweet us your picks, @HeyWorkingGirl!