Learning truly just began for us. As much as school tries to cover all the things to prepare you for the real world, only the real world can be your source of preparation.. I wanted to give a little run down of my lessons now that the store is open and I have level one experience in opening a store.
Level One Lessons:
1. Brokerage. This is the 'handling' of shipping goods across countries. It needs to be efficient and cost effective. Using any regular shipping company is fine but can be very expensive and time consuming. There are companies out there that deal just with importing and exporting goods. Deal with them instead! This will save you the time spent on the phone, talking to an automated system to tell you that your goods are stuck in customs.It personalizes the whole supply chain and in the end will save you money!
2. NAFTA. It is a beautiful agreement between USA, Canada and Mexico where both fabric and goods made in those countries can be traded with no customs or duties. It's great, however, when you are working with luxurious fabrics made in Italy, Turkey, Japan etc. it is very costly to bring them over the boarder even if it is made in USA.
3. Vendors. They all want their product in your store. You need to stay focused and step back and make sure you are sticking to maintaining your brand. What we kept in mind is quality and value. The brand that showed both is what we brought into the shop. For example, JBrand does the best black lacquered denim. So we brought them to you since they have become a staple for the season, soft and perfectly waxy.
4. Contractors. We had the privilege to have our father as our contractor. Instead of me having to watch him, which is typical in that kind of business, he was watching me. But, that is one of the most difficult parts of creating anything construction related. For a few things that we needed to source out, we didn't just settle with the first person who said they could do the job. If you are as particular as we are, go with the guy who takes the time to explain it to you.
5. Budget. Of course we learn how to create a budget for all the equipment and leasehold improvements to understand what it takes to open a business but put that budget on the shelf and thinking creatively. There is ALWAYS a cheaper and better route to take. Just ask, be curious and have an open mind.
6. People. If you let them, they can walk all over you. Know what is right and stick to your guns!
7. Partnerships. I could never have done this business alone. Having a partner in crime to do it with to share all the ups and downs is the best part of this whole experience.
8. Accounting. Listen more attentively in that class! It is not a joke, instead it is the back bone of your business and the biggest learning curve!
9. Patience. For yourself and all that goes along with doing something new. It's a process and you will get there... in time. Apparently, Rome wasn't built in a day!
10. Be yourself. Having mentors are great and needed. Listening to your own intuition is your biggest tool that no one else can possibly have.
11. Build your tribe. As Kelly Cutrone would say. Find people who will take care of you when you physically have no time to think of yourself. Also, have people who will be able to effectively provide feedback to push you in the right direction for your overall goal.
12. Follow your Path. Yes, we followed our dreams, but I see it more that we followed the path that we were meant to take. We were meant to open a store on Preston Street, in this month, on this year, together. It was always a reality for us, never an option.