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How Ten Dollars, Imagination, and Determination became the King Soleil Boutique

How Ten Dollars, Imagination, and Determination became the King Soleil Boutique

Morgan Roberts

When I came across Shoestring Venture, I was at once intrigued to read about businesses starting up with very little money and becoming successes and fascinated by their stories. I am thrilled to now be one of them; a sole proprietor small business that was literally started with ten dollars. If I can share anything, it would be this: anyone can start a business with the money in their wallet, and with a little imagination and a lot of determination, can be a success.

King Soleil is a boutique specializing in handmade, crochet, upcycled, and one of kind products for children, nursery and home. A stay at home mom of two children under the age of four, I was able to utilize a newly learned skill of crochet to design and sell products made with recycled materials. I have since expanded into offering all kinds of upcycled and crochet products, in a variety of materials and yarns, upcycled children’s wear, embroidery art, and special occasion dresses. Running King Soleil from my home allows me to continue to be a stay at home mom and keep my overhead very low.

I launched the King Soleil Etsy shop in July 2011 ( www.etsy.com/shop/kingsoleil ) with a few upcycled crochet rugs I made from a ten dollar thrift store purchase of linens. As these rugs sold for fifty to seventy-five dollars each, I rolled the profits into more thrift store finds, yarn, and a website URL. I read up on website design and created a site: www.kingsoleil.com . King Soleil grew and expanded as I carefully watched viewing trends on my products and slowly began to accommodate customer demand.

How Ten Dollars, Imagination, and Determination became the King Soleil BoutiqueI learned early on that finding a balance between upscale materials and low cost was difficult but not impossible. I knew I did not want to skimp my products by buying cheap supplies. If I wouldn’t dress my children in it, or put in it my house, it would not be sold in my shop. Wine taste on a beer budget? I’m more like champagne taste on an iced tea budget. I scour my local thrift stores, estate sales, community sales, and consignment shops for cashmeres, merino wool, angora, and other luxury fabrics to be remade into children’s accessories and clothing. Upcycling fabric in this way keeps my business green and eco friendly, challenges my design aesthetic, creates one of kind pieces, and allows me to use materials I would not have been able to afford otherwise.

When I have to buy tulle for my flower girl tutu dresses, or high quality yarns, I save coupons and buy in bulk. If I find a yarn I use on sale, or a color being discontinued, I buy the store out of every last skein. I found a great bulk organic fabric supplier that offers beautiful fabric for a fraction of what you would normally pay in a retail store. All these practices mean frequent shopping trips, every week, but I am able to keep my prices very reasonable for the high quality materials I offer.

Advertising is a cost I have not had to absorb, as I use the abundant free sites on the web to my advantage. I literally have not paid one dollar to advertise and find that my steady increase in views and growth proves that if you have the time to utilize free modes out there, the old stand by of buying advertising space can be outdated. A few sites I use:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kingsoleil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kingsoleil

Tumblr: www.kingsoleil.tumblr.com

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/morganmama

Martha Stewart Dreamers into Doers: http://dreamers.marthastewart.com/profile/MorganRoberts

Stumbleupon: www.stumbleupon.com

Wanelo: www.wanelo.com

Tailored: www.tailored.co

Some of the best feedback and views I receive are from online interviews and features, publications, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Whether redirecting keywords, contacting well-known bloggers with my product information, submitting ideas to craft sites, writing for online magazines, or winning features, such as Martha Stewart Dreamers into Doers, I have received tens of thousands of views and spent zero dollars. This exposure amounts to not only sales, but relationships with boutiques who now sell my line and future opportunities.

Be your own cheerleader and go after the ‘big fish’. I spent months timidly putting feelers out there and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I don’t consider myself aggressive by any means, but without some direct initiative, King Soleil would never have gotten off the ground. After a slow first few months of sales, I thought to myself, I know I have innovative, well-made, unique and eco conscious products. I grew more confident in myself, my business, and my products. That is when I began writing to magazines and online sites. You have nothing to lose and everything (including the possibility of paid articles) to gain. Don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking, go knock on those doors yourself!

Once the exposure starting turning into more sales, article deadlines, bulk orders for boutiques, and exclusive lines for stores and an interior design studio, I had to quickly adjust my family’s schedule to my work schedule. Thankfully, most of my orders are custom and made-to-order, so I did not have to accommodate a large supply of stock. Continuing to play my role as a stay at home mommy, business owner, writer, and designer is quite a juggling act, but I have found a sense of balance that keeps life interesting, exciting, and fulfilling.

How Ten Dollars, Imagination, and Determination became the King Soleil BoutiqueI have been profitable from month one, thanks in large part to my tiny start up cost and low overhead. I am spending quite a bit more on materials today, but have been able to increase my sales and keep my profit streak going strong. Once my children are in school, I will be able to devote my full attention (at least the day-time hours) on King Soleil, whether that is new lines, products for trade shows, and building up stock for the store I plan on opening. Currently, I am limited by selling online and am positive that even with the increase in overhead, opening a studio / store to shoppers will significantly allow King Soleil to grow. Within the next three to four years I plan on opening a brick and mortar King Soleil location and offering crochet and upcycle classes. By keeping the business small, I can keep to the handmade, one of a kind niche.

Thank you Shoestring Venture for giving small businesses and entrepreneurs advice, real life stories, and inspiration!

Morgan Roberts

Owner and Designer of King Soleil

[email protected]

(203) 940-2946

www.kingsoleil.com

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