How to Start a Home-Business Boutique

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The global apparel market is forecasted to reach $1.52 trillion by 2020. Brands like Nike, Puma, Zara and Hermes are popular worldwide. If you have an eye for fashion, consider selling boutique clothing from home. This way, you'll avoid the costs associated with running a brick-and-mortar store and pass on the savings to your customers.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The key to a successful boutique business is to find your niche and sell exclusive items that are not available in most stores. Focus on one or two types of products rather than trying to offer a little bit of everything.

What Is a Boutique Business?

Boutique gyms, boutique hotels and clothing boutiques are popping up at every street corner. Traditionally, boutiques were defined as stores selling jewelry, cosmetics, designer apparel and other luxury goods. Today, this term is used to describe small companies that sell limited products or services, not just clothing or jewelry. A boutique gym, for example, may specialize in aerial yoga or high-intensity training rather than offering a little bit of everything.

This business model usually deals with a limited number of high-end products. A fashion boutique may sell handmade scarves or limited-edition bags, for instance. Keeping your inventory selection small will not only lower your costs but also give you a competitive edge. Plus, you'll find it easier to define and reach your target audience and build a loyal clientele.

Selling boutique clothing from home can be a lucrative venture for those trying to build a side hustle. Over time, it may turn into a full-time job. The startup costs are quite low compared to launching and running a traditional store. If you wish to reach more customers, you can put your products online.

Decide What You Want to Sell

Before launching a home boutique, spend some time researching the market and choose your niche. Boutique stores are highly specialized. Therefore, it's important to focus on specific products or types of products. Consider your budget and target audience as well as how much space you have available. Your home boutique may offer things like:

  • Vintage clothing and accessories
  • High-end, classic pieces for businesswomen
  • Children's clothing
  • Handmade jewelry and fashion accessories
  • Custom clothing
  • Baby blankets
  • Halloween costumes
  • Pet clothing
  • Handmade soaps and cosmetics
  • Custom scrapbooks
  • Painted canvases
  • Scented candles

Think about what you're good at and seek ways to turn your hobby into a business. Determine whether you'll buy the products from other sellers or make them yourself. Figure out the costs involved, search for suppliers and estimate your profits. Draft a business plan that covers these aspects.

Boutique stores appeal to a narrow audience looking for specific products. This business model is revolutionizing the future of retail. Independent fashion boutiques, for example, inspire and educate customers, offering highly personalized experiences. These small stores are based on the idea of community, not competition. Each has its own personality, which allows it to build trust and influence through personal branding.

Research the Market

Next, research your niche and learn more about your audience. Say you decide to sell women's clothing. In this case, it can be tempting to go overboard and carry something for everyone, but that would be a mistake. Instead, choose one type of product and then sell it, market it and do everything you can to reach your target customers. As your business grows, you may expand your product line.

A fashion boutique may only sell purses, for instance. However, unlike large retail stores, it may offer a wider selection of purses and handbags, giving customers more choices. Furthermore, it may offer unique products or limited-edition items. The whole point is to find your niche, sell exclusive, hard-to-find items and create a memorable customer experience.

Draft a Business Plan

Your business plan should cover these points as well as the legal aspects of selling boutique clothing from home. This document has the role to define and describe your strategy, goals and competitive advantage so you can run your business with a more cohesive vision. It sets milestones you can work toward, connects the dots in cash flow and keeps you accountable. Furthermore, it provides you with the information needed to allocate your time and resources strategically.

Start with a brief summary of your company, its products and its goals. Be clear about what you will sell, your audience and what makes your home boutique different than the rest. Consider the logistics too. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you going to sell clothes (or other products) from home, online or both?
  • If you sell online, will you offer free shipping?
  • Who will ship your products?
  • From what vendors will you obtain your products and packaging?
  • How will you deal with exchanges and returns?

This document should also cover the legal steps required to start a boutique business. Remember to tackle the financial aspects as well. Describe your mission and goals, make financial projections and develop a marketing strategy. Think about how you'll get the word out to your customers and how you can leverage the internet to raise brand awareness.

Register Your Business

Once you're ready to open a home boutique, register your business and get a tax ID number. Decide on a legal structure, such as a limited liability company or a sole proprietorship. If you're planning to run the business with a friend or family member, you may register it as a partnership. Depending on where you live, you may register with a business bureau or the secretary of state.

Next, head over to IRS.gov to apply for an employer identification number. If you're a sole proprietor, you may use your Social Security number to do business under certain conditions. However, it's worth getting an EIN since it protects your identity and makes it easier to open a business bank account, among other advantages. This nine-digit identifier can be obtained online.

Launching a home boutique is easier from a legal perspective than opening a conventional store but make sure you research the requirements in your state. You may need a general business license, a resale permit, sales and use tax permits and other documents. The city of Chicago, for example, requires a general business license for individuals who are self-employed or operate a company from home. The license must be renewed every two years.

Selling Boutique Clothing From Home

Now, you can finally open your doors and bring your vision to life. Brainstorm marketing ideas and come up with a plan to make your boutique business stand out. Start by setting up a website or blog. Display your products, share your brand's story and find a way to relate to your target audience. Good lighting, quality photography and engaging content are all important.

Attend local fairs and connect with other artists and crafters. These events attract the kinds of customers searching for unique items. Set up a booth and let prospective clients know that you have a lot more products at home or on your website. If possible, send out a press release or publish ads in local publications that appeal to your audience.

Create business pages on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Showcase your products along with enticing descriptions and a strong call to action. Consider setting up an advertising campaign on Facebook to reach local customers. Ask your clients to leave reviews and post pictures of themselves wearing the clothes, jewelry or accessories purchased from your home boutique.