When we say "not all boutiques are created equal," we mean it! Today, we wanted to share a little Q&A that we were asked to do! We didn't think we would enjoy it quite this much, but we did and thought we'd let you in on some fun facts about how Salt and Freckles came to be exactly what it is today! Let's dive right in.
- You guys started as a small tanning salon that sold a few items but converted fully into a boutique for women! What made you babes make that move?
That was a completely organic process!!! We had partnered with Diane's Beachwear, a local beachwear boutique, and tanned out of a few of her Southern California locations. We saw very quickly how our tanning customers loved to shop before or after their appointment. Oftentimes, they would be tanning with us to prep for a vacation or special occasion, so a new outfit was the perfect add on. When our working relationship ran its course with Diane's, we were like...holy shit. What are we going to do? And then Kell had the foresight to see that we could definitely have our own tanning space and incorporate retail into that space, to duplicate the experience our customers had grown to love. It was a huge leap for us, financially and in terms of work load and learning curve. I had tons of retail experience and we both have business degrees, but this was a big jump for us. But we were ready! What started as one or two racks of clothing, quickly grew. And so did our passion for the boutique side of the business. As Kell and I began to have families of our own and become moms, we knew that the boutique was not only where our creative hearts were, but it also afforded us a lot more flexibility to run a business and still be present with our families. Its so interesting because had our relationship with Diane's not ended (something we viewed as a huge lost opportunity), we would never be where we are today. So, so very grateful for the process.
- You guys run your own social media and make it feel so personal. That’s a lot of work. Why is it important to you?
Kell runs the numbers side of things and really manages the backbone of the business, and I (Kasey) run all of the marketing, which includes social media. Its funny because when we first started developing our social media page more, which coincided with the launch of our online shop, I was certain our customers wanted to see young, tiny, tall, beautiful girls modeling our clothes (naively and ignorantly because I presume that's what I see other folks putting out there). And it was A LOT of work finding models, booking days to shoot, editing photos, etc. And I was learning it all as I went, which was a HUGE learning curve for me. I was the photographer, the editor, the stylist, and the content manager. We started to get busier and I just didn't have the time to wear all those hats, so in a pinch, I would just post selfies of my sisters and I modeling new pieces, and those were ALWAYS the items that would get the most engagement online and sell the quickest. We realized that we are a huge part of our brand. And customers value our honest, raw, everygirl kind of approach to styling in store, which actually ALSO translates to what our online community wanted as well.. I knew that passing along the content management to someone else would never be our voice. And I'm a HUGE control freak when it comes to our brand. So, naturally, I'm still always learning when and where its okay to let go a bit. But for me, its just not a space to do so with social media. Its our direct line to our customers, which has always been where we excel.
- What is your process for choosing the clothes that hit the shop?
That too has completely evolved as we've better learned who and what our customers are and aren't. We've also become so much more aware of who and what we are as a brand. We used to argue SO much when choosing new brands and specific pieces for the shop. We'd default to our personal styles which are so different. Once we learned to stop thinking about what we want for the shop, and focused our decisions on pieces that are best for our brand and its customers, we became like one. Kell and I can literally look at a line sheet separately, pick our favorites, and when we compare our choices, 9 times out of 10, they are identical. But I like to think that our personal styles still play a bit of a role. I'll always be drawn to more wild choices, and Kell knows how to rope those in really well. And we have such a mutual respect and trust for each other, we know how to listen to each other when one of us feels passionately about any choices for the shop. But that took time : )
- Is it ever hard to choose what hits the shop?
No. Never. (lol) We are shopaholics. Its like spending someone else's money. Or like re-styling your home. Its the most FUN!!! I would say its easily both of our favorite parts of the business. We both have a true love of clothing and styling, and everytime we get to purchase new things, its like the store gets a mini makeover. Its so exciting. The hardest part for us has been managing growth. Knowing how to scale our inventory now that we sell out of things so quickly. And deciding which areas to grow our inventory in. We are really excited this year to expand the home part of our inventory!!!
- What is your favorite season to prep the shop for?
I can never really pick. Its always exciting to introduce a new season and each season has its beauty. But I would say that Spring and Summer we always order more naturally, so I think that speaks for itself. We are California girls through and through, and the roots of the shop are always planted at the beach. Its how we started and where we began. But jackets and boots never get old either (heehee)!
- Your employees are always the sweetest! Why is that?
That makes me soooo happy to hear!!!!! I would say that the hardest part of owning a business is finding really great employees. Kelly and I have a saying...nobody will ever care about our business like we do. It's just a fact. But we have been pretty blessed to find some incredible folks to be a part of our squad. Sarah has been with us the longest and she has become a true part of our family. She can know what I'm thinking, before I even have to say it. Which is rare. Our number one focus when hiring is people skills. I don't care if you know how to take great photos, if you have a huge instagram following, or if you are a great graphic designer. I don't even care so much if you love clothes like I do. If you don't love people, it just won't work. Our store has always been customer-centric. My sisters and I were our only employees for so long, our goal is always to try our best to achieve that same experience, even when we aren't in the shop. And we LOVE helping people find outfits. Its what we do best and the core of our business.
- What are your goals for the boutique? (Ex: Do you want to open up more shops or expand or start a monthly subscription, etc. or do you love keeping it small and intimate?)
We get asked this a lot!!! We definitely will never open another store front (never say never, but we never will). Its just too much work to do successfully and we do not want to ever spread ourselves so thin that it compromises what we have worked so hard to create. Our goals of expansion include expanding our current in store offerings to always be better. More exciting. More unique. More creative. That's the heart of our business. And everything online grows from there. We would love to offer personal styling options somehow online maybe or monthly boxes perhaps. Our goals are always centered around how we can recreate the very personal experience of in-store shopping, online. And always working to have better scalability with inventory. That's been a big hurdle for us since our online store has started doing about the same level of sales as in store. Like I said before, we are always learning and adapting.
- What is the first impression you want people to have when they walk in your shop?
I'm such a sentimental. I remember the feeling DISTINCTLY of finding my favorite little boutiques as I grew up. I've always loved small mom and pop shops. It doesn't matter if it's clothing, home goods, baby clothes, spices, candles, a barber shop, tire store or even a small liquor or wine space. They all share these common traits that I am so drawn to. It's the people that work at them, it's the love poured into them, the personality, the care, the details. They are so special. I hope people feel that way when they walk into our store, and I believe that's why good experiential retail will never die. I remember finding my favorite spaces to shop and being like, "these people get me." It felt like I was expressing myself through their goods and I loved that feeling. That freedom. Of finding a way to use beautiful things to say who I am. If that makes sense. I hope people feel like they are found at our store. And can tell the world who they are through our clothes.
- What experience do you want each customer to have when they shop at your store?
I know that there are different kinds of customers, with different reasons for loving a good shopping experience. For some, its customer service. For others, its exceptional product. And for even more, it's just a way to get outta the house and have some "me time". I hope that no matter the reason that someone finds themselves in our shop, they can't wait to come back. I hope they feel welcomed and heard. I hope they have fun and laugh with us a bit. I hope that it becomes a sort of sacred space for fellow fashion lovers and those that want to be fashion lovers. And I hope that all women feel welcome and adored and special while they are here.
- Why is community so important to you?
I think family is everything to my sisters and I. And our community has become such an extension of our family. Community is everything. My sisters and I grew up in Santa Clarita (where our shop is located), and our community is the reason for our success. We fully understand that we would be nothing without our community (both in store and online) and we value the fact that people continue to choose us when they need a little retail therapy. Our community has stood by us through the pandemic and shown up for us more than we could ever have imagined. Being able to say thank you to them is a luxury we never take for granted.
- You guys are so on top of answering people’s questions! You really put the customer’s first. Is this something you had to learn?
Oh shit that's great because I'm always nervous that's where we are failing. Because I do run the social media and I am notorious for not answering personal calls and texts (I think I have 500 or so unanswered texts on my phone still...I'm that girl), I'm alwasy nervous that is where I drop the ball for our business too. Honestly, its kind of hard to wear so many hats and be so available via social media. Even if a customer asks something about a product at 10pm, they expect an answer. And it could mean us keeping or losing a customer. So I do my best to answer everyone, while also keeping my sanity. But I am on my phone a lot because of this, which I secretly (or not so secretly) hate. Give and take.
- What are some other things you think people should know about your shop?
I always want people to know that we are just three normal sisters. We had normal jobs and hated them. We had a tiny dream and worked our ASSES off and that dream grew and grew. And its only just begun. We've NEVER been above hard work. We scraped linoleum floors outta the shop ourselves because we couldn't afford to pay someone to do it for us. We passed out business cards for years, without making a dime. We never gave up. We believed in ourselves. And we created a dream job for ourselves. I'm very proud of that. Of us. And the road that we took to get here. It was all essential. All the successes and losses and learning curves and youtube tutorials we've watched to get here, were essential pieces to the puzzle. And we always remind ourselves that we can be replaced if we allow it. Almost daily, Kell and I say two things. I think we're gonna make it. And What next Uncle? Two family jokes that have propelled us to move forward while never forgetting to count our blessings.
We hope that you enjoyed learning a little more about who we are, where we came from, and what we strive to be! Stay tuned for the rest of the Not All Boutiques Are Created Equal series!