How I started my boutique 15 years ago.
I have always loved fashion as a little girl. My mom used to tell me that I had a way of picking out certain clothing or shoes before any of the other kids started wearing them. I was a little trendsetter.
I have always worked since I was a teenager and I've done various jobs from being a waitress, receptionist, administrative assistant, and I always enjoyed working but nothing ever sparked my passion.
At 35 years old, I was a married mother of 3 boys, my youngest at the time was just 2. At that time, 15 years ago, my then husband was originally from Brooklyn, New York, and he would always take me shopping there in these really cool boutiques. I found myself constantly thinking about them as we did not have any specialized shopping where we lived in Marlton, New Jersey, only the Cherry Hill Mall.
After seeing the vibe and shopping in these boutiques, it really made me have the urge to open my own boutique, even though I did not know the first thing about operating or buying for one.
My gut said do it and I was determined.
I was also determined to do it on my own, without the help of my then husband. It was always really important to me to be able to be financially independent. I had a little bit of money in my savings account and I borrowed the other half from my brother. I found a great little starter place to rent right where I lived in Marlton, NJ. My first store was called, "Addiction Boutique" and my tagline was, "Come see what the Addiction is all about."
I learned fairly quickly how to run and buy for my store. At that time, the buyers for stores would buy ahead of time for each season, I never did that. I couldn’t wrap my head around how I would know what I would like to wear that far in advance lol So, I chose to always buy for the moment, and I also always chose to buy MY style and what I like. Now, most business owners would say think of your customers and buy for everyone. Again, I did not follow those rules, I buy for what I like and what I think is cool, something I can stand behind because I truly love the items as well. And soon enough, I was onto something, I was attracting all the people who liked what I liked! And this is why it’s so important to stay true to yourself in every aspect.
I loved having my Boutique, it truly became my addiction. I loved talking with my customers daily and most important I always felt that my store was a breeding ground for positive energy. Everyone that came in I greeted as if I was welcoming them into my home. I would hire employees with the strict rule of “You are to be kind, and find something specific you like about each customer, and compliment them, whether it be their hair, shoes, smile, or bag, etc. It was and still is really important to me to make people’s day over making sales.
Over the years, I continued to grow my business organically and then I also opened my e-commerce site for my boutique as well. I was so excited with taking my boutique online, and I wanted to make the experience really special for people. I used to hand write a special note to every single customer that purchased online addressed with their name and what I loved most about the product/products that they chose and signed it by me, Alicia xo.
Little did I know how huge this would be, people loved it!! They looked forward to my notes with every order. It’s the way you make people feel special. The world clearly needs more KINDNESS.
Then, in 2010 my personal life fell apart and I really went through it. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be divorcing my then husband, who was incarcerated at the time, and my once little boutique was now what I was counting on to support myself and my three boys.
Soon after, I took another big chance, I moved into a prime location in my town called the Promenade. It was a much much higher rent, and I was very scared, as I had a lot at stake, but now had three boys to raise on my own. That’s when I realized you have to face your fears to become fearless. This was a crucial time in my life and at this time I also decided to change my Boutique name to Alicia DiMichele Boutique to celebrate myself and the strong woman that I have become.
Needless to say, both the new move and new name were a continued success. My customers are all so amazing, I have really attracted such a beautiful collection of women all over. I almost feel like we are a kindness cult.
I try and give back to my customers as much as I can. For the ones who are local, I host many fun events at my boutique, in which we always have a huge turnout and people always look forward to the future ones.
My next event is on Sunday, May 7th called “Mama’s & Mimosa’s” for our Mother’s Day event. We are having a Mom-osa bar (champagne & juices) along with a permanent jewelry company, which is all the trend right now, so that you can get permanent matching jewelry, perfect for mommy & me, or for you and your bestie. I also give a special gift to everyone who comes.
And for my online customers, I’m always engaging with them via social media platforms sharing my life, style tips, & recipes. I am also always giving free gifts in their orders and am to sure I make their packaging cute as can be so they get excited opening up something so pretty.
To sum it all up, if you have a dream, go for it. Trust yourself and stay true to yourself in every aspect of it all. You can learn throughout the way, I’m still learning. I always said that I would rather try and fail then to not try at all and wonder what could have been.
My boutique is a blessing in many ways for me and I’m thankful and grateful for the opportunity to do what I love and be successful in doing so. I love all of my customers near and far as they are literally the kindest, most supportive people.