Archive of ‘Entrepreneur Stuff’ category

WRAL Out and About Awards

I was so excited to find out that Swagger had been nominated in the Best Boutique category for the WRAL Out and About Awards.  It is always an honor to be nominated for a Voter’s Choice award!

After a day where nothing seemed to go right – starting with finding out that my favorite romper had been shrunk in the wash (sigh) to spilling an entire bottle of water inside my purse (who does that?) to many other things in between – I was a little stressed on the way to the award ceremony held at Sitti.  But I talked to my amazing store manager, Susan Rogers, all the way from Cary to Raleigh and by the time I got there I was excited to have a glass of wine and talk to the other nominees!

I remember when I first opened Swagger and would go to these events – I wouldn’t know anyone and it was always very intimidating.  Now, 14 years later, it’s like going to a class reunion:  Some of these business owners I only see once a year at an event like this, but it’s always great to catch up!  And I love seeing people I respect and businesses I love getting recognized for all their hardwork!

swagger-us-wral-outandaboutawardsOnce the award ceremony started, I wasn’t prepared for Best Boutique to be the second category called out and a little caught off guard that Swagger WON! Susan was cheering for us and I was messing with my phone – haha! I am so grateful to everyone who voted for us!

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It was so fast that I didn’t have time to take a picture of the “winning slide”, but I’ll hang our award inside Swagger with pride!:) So thank you for shopping at Swagger and for loving us the way we love you!  I am forever grateful!

love-mandy

Employee Appreciation Day

Today is Employee Appreciation Day!  I have been planning for a few weeks what I was going to do for my wonderful staff and I “came up with” (otherwise known as – took from pinterest) a winning lottery ticket theme!  I love the people who work for me and I know Swagger wouldn’t be the same without them.  I have always thought of my staff more as family than employees, and although I hope they know how much I appreciate them, it is always great to tell them!  And what better day than Employee Appreciate Day – right?:)

Here are the bags I am giving them today!  Contents: a lottery ticket, 100 grand candy bars and chocolate gold coins!

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My daughter even stopped playing with her shopkins to help put them together:)

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I have a quote hanging in my house that says ” There will always be a reason why you meet people.  Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.”  All my Swagger girls (past and present) have changed my life and been a highlight in one way or another.  I am so grateful for all of them!

Now I’m headed to go deliver these and pray that somebody wins a bunch of money!!

love-mandy

To market, To market

Well that was a whirlwind trip!  I absolutely love going to market – one of my favorite parts of my job – but WOW – I always feel like I got run over by a truck when I get back.  And let’s not mention the 5 lbs I usually gain from eating chocolate continuously for a week just to keep my energy up… I am seriously in food detox, but I want to eat my arm off right now. Entry back into the real world is always painful:/

This is what my store manager, Susan, and I looked like on Day 1 – it seems like an eternity ago – not just a week.  We look so fresh and ready to buy, don’t we?!  You should see us both at work today – ha!

Everyone always wonders what it is like to go to market.  Fun, of course.  But also stressful and lots of long hours.  Just ask Susan – I didn’t feed her dinner – TWICE – during the January market because we were writing orders so late.  I took it easier on her this time though – we even got to have dinner with my husband and little girl one night who were in town visiting my inlaws – so fun!

People ask me a lot of questions about buying at market – the tops ones are: What does market look like?  How do you buy?  How do you know what to buy?

I thought I would answer these for you today!
What does market look like?  Here is a pic inside one of the buildings of Americasmart.  And this one is the smallest!  There are 2 other buildings that are 18 stories high and a full city block each.  I go to market for 6 days and still can’t see everything!  The advice I got from a seasoned buyer on my very first trip to market in 2002 was this, “Look in every nook and cranny – that’s where you can find some hidden gems.” And I try really hard to do that – every market!

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How do you buy? Because market is so big, I adopted the policy early on that if I see a line I like I will buy it.  I know a lot of people get pamphlets or take notes and come back to their favorites at the end of the show or they buy when they get home, but that just doesn’t work for me.  I figure if I can’t pull the trigger while I’m standing there, I don’t love it and I need to move on.  I purchase items for the 6 months following that particular market and work off an Open To Buy budget plan that I create based on sales numbers from the previous year.  There is a lot of work and planning that goes in way before I step on a plane!  I really don’t know how business owners buy if they don’t have a point of sale system with reporting.  I guess that is the engineer in me – but I love numbers – they don’t lie and they are very helpful in making decisions!

How do you know what to buy? This is a tricky one.  I just do.  That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes before.  I’ve gotten a couple lines in over the years that I LOVED, but apparently no one else felt the same way and almost all of it went on sale.  Which is a bummer.  A BIG bummer.  But knowing when to say when and actually putting the items on sale is a characteristic of a good retailer.  Cry Uncle, give yourself a pat on the back (you tried) and get out your red pen!  You certainly don’t want to hang on to stale merchandise.  The key is to have more buying successes than failures, and the key to that is to listen to your customers!  Our customers have been asking for House of Harlow necklaces for the last 6 months, so I purchased the line this time! So if you want one – please come to Swagger!:)

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I’m glad to be back in North Carolina, but I’ve got to enter in all my orders and follow up on the 900 emails I received while I was gone!  I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any other questions for me comment below and I will try my best to answer them!

love-mandy