Juniper Boutique Owner Tamar Lask poses next to a gown created by Megan Bright for this upcoming spring semester's fashion show. PHOTO BY GABRIELLA HARBRIDGE
What's it like to run a boutique? Q&A with Juniper owner
Tamar Lask, owner of the Juniper Boutique in the Village, is also the owner of two other Juniper locations: near Purdue University's campus and in Oxford, Ohio near Miami University.
Gabriella Harbridge talked with Lask about the buying process for fashion merchandising and advice for future fashion entrepreneurs.
Gabriella: How did you get the idea/concept of becoming an entrepreneur in the fashion business?
Tamar: I sort of walked into it. From the start I began to work up in the retail business from working in a department store to becoming a head manager. I found that this is something that I can do and I made it my own.
G: How do you advertise your business?
T: I am glad you asked that, many people seem like that would be an obvious answer, but really it isn't. I mean how did you learn about Juniper?
G: Honestly, just by word of mouth.
T: Exactly, no one picks up a newspaper anymore and even social media does not get the job done. Really it is by luck that everyone will tell others about it ... honestly I am not the best at advertising, so I let my husband deal with that. Obviously through social media, flyers and coupons, but ultimately it comes down to someone telling another person about Juniper.
G: What do you attribute to your success?
T: Honestly, it has just been pure luck. The best advice I can give to help boost the chance for success is focusing on the location, find your passion and stick to whatever it is a person is doing.
G: What is the whole buying process like for you?
T: I meet with a seller that I am interested in and look around to see what is available. I have to keep in mind that I am not shopping for what my particular taste is, but for my customers. If I bought everything that I liked no one would buy my merchandise. You must always keep in mind that you are buying for popular demand.
G: What is your take on name brands?
T: I honestly could care less. When a person starts talking about designers and high-end, I just zone out. With my merchandise, I do not want the customer to purchase an item because of the name on the tag. I want the customer to find that piece that just hugs them and they can't leave without it. Or that scarf that just snuggles them. I want that more personal connection of making people feel cozy and comfortable.
G: What is your biggest failure and how did you learn from it?
T: In general, that would be going over the budget when I am buying. Obviously the best solution for that is to not go over the budget.
G: How many employees do you have out of all three of your stores?
T: Roughly 25 employees.
G: Any advice for anyone going into the business of owning their own boutique?
T: This job is not for the faint of heart and is for risk takers. I do everything. I do not just tell people what to do and it is done, I am everything. The owner, manager, buyer, shipping and receiver, etc. I of course have employees to help with that or nothing would get done, but it is not for those that cannot stick to it. Bottom line, you will not always get a return on everything. For example, you may invest a loan, but not get the payback you may have wanted. This business is for risk takers and risk takers only.
G: Where do you tend to buy from?
I tend to lean toward the the West coast for all my merchandise that I purchase.
G: Where did you come up with the name ‘Juniper'?
I love this question. Honestly, I wanted to come up with a name that was earthy, but not dirty. It took awhile to get that name, but when we did it was when my husband and I were at the home depot and he picked up a Juniper Shrub and said, ‘What about Juniper?’ and the name was official from there on out.
G: Do you have any other advice for those wanting to go into this business?
To get experience, especially on someone else’s dollar. For those that are in this major it is essential that for those that have not worked in retail get that experience. And again, get experience on someone else’s dollar, in internships, social profiling or even a part-time job. Gain as much knowledge before putting your own assets and loans on the line. You can never know too much. Also, bottom line always ask questions. The biggest mistakes are by little communication or miscommunication.
G: What if someone has a boss that discourages asking questions or using communication? I know each one of us has had at least one boss in our lifetime that was hard to get along with.
T: Leave as soon as possible. No one should discourage you from making you do your job better. It shows that they could care less. People gain experience through questions. Ask, ask, ask.
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