Today’s entrepreneur is Gail Heraty of Grow With Love Boutique.
When and why did you start your business?
After having a career in Education for several years, I resigned in order to be a full time mom for my three children. For 12 years, I made a career out of volunteering for school and community projects and events. However, knowing one day I would want something to call my own, I began planning for the day all my children were in school full time. Knowing I wanted to combine my love of children and fashion, it was then that Grow With Love Boutique was born. I wanted to create a boutique that was filed with high quality and unique items that I could bring to my customers at affordable prices.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
I enjoy the challenge of learning new things, networking with other entrepreneurs and getting to really know my customers. I enjoy working hard and working smart and seeing the results of my efforts. However, the best part of being an entrepreneur and working from home is that I am able to still be the best mom I can be. Once they are tucked in at night, I go back to work and get a couple more hours in for the day. This way I make time to volunteer in their classrooms and drive them to their after school activities or work from home when they are home sick. It is also important to me to be home so we can sit down as a family for dinner every night together.
Describe your business in 20 words or less.
Unique, upscale and affordable boutique clothing, gifts and accessories for infants, boys and girls.
Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay inspired?
Being an online store I thought it would difficult to really connect with my customers. However, with social media and email, I am able to connect with them in a very personal way. I am inspired when I get customers who post on twitter or facebook how much they loved what they bought or share a photo of their children it the clothes from the boutique. How can I not be inspired when I read comments like these:
“Awesome customer service, adorable clothes and at reasonable prices. You can’t go wrong with Grow With Love Boutique!!”
“Gail has put together an amazing selection of high quality merchandise and her personal attention and passion for her business is refreshing”
“Give this boutique more than just a second glance. You will be glad you did. Thank you Gail, for your amazing services”.
What is your biggest success or accomplishment you’re most proud of in your business?
I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to help grow the businesses of other women and moms who started with an idea just like me. Featured are not only many of the same brand names found at fine department stores, but I have a personal focus showcasing unique products from other mom founded businesses. Over half of the brands I carry are either women/mom-owned business or women/mom-invented products.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs when they are first starting out?
The advice I’d give to anyone starting a business is to make sure you ask lots of questions, read about others doing what you what to do and observe. Most importantly, build genuine friendships and relationships with other business owners and your customers. You will gain so much from being genuine and building these relationships.
What is one mistake that you made that you really learned from and what did you learn?
My first apparel show I attended, I was just simply overwhelmed by how many wonderful product lines are out there. Not having a background in fashion merchandising or sales or buying, I was a fish out of water. I did not even know what questions I should be asking or how to place an order. I decided that if I wanted to make this work I needed to get a crash course.
I spend that first day at the show observing. I watched how other buyers and store owners interacted with the company reps and listened to their questions and how they placed their orders. I took notes on the lingo being used and the questions being asked as well as the answers. I took all fliers, catalogs, business cards and information that was offered to me. I went home and studied. The very next show I was prepared. I gained the confidence I needed to keep going. Leaving the show that day, I felt like Mary Tyler Moore , “I’m Going to make it after all!”
Where do you see your company in three years?
I would like to see my business continue to evolve and reinvent new ways to bring my customers exciting products and clothing for their children, grandchildren and gift needs. I’d like Grow With Love Boutique to broaden it’s audience as the go to place online for affordable quality and distinctiveness that you can trust.
What is one thing you wish you knew about being an entrepreneur when you first started out?
The most demanding aspect of running my business that I did not fully understand in the beginning is keeping up with the day-to-day tasks while exploring new ways to increase sales, finding the most unique quality items, connecting with customers all while learning how to run a business without a business background. Oh, and did I mention that this all needs to be done around the schedules of my very active family? What I love about my schedule is that other moms all over the world are doing just what I am doing and being successful at it.