Boutique Owner on Entrepreneurship: ‘It Would Not Let Me Rest’
From the logo and color scheme to the main attraction — clothing — there seems to be a brand in the making with Alex & Paislee, a Marietta, GA.-based boutique that is celebrating its grand opening Aug. 13.
Owner Stephaney Alexander prepares for her first weekday, awaiting the foot traffic from an estimated 50,000 cars that pass every day.
Her venture is years in the making.
You could say a lifetime. Her father owned a homebuilder business in Breaux Bridge, LA. Other family members owned numerous businesses ranging from a car wash to a restaurant.
The entrepreneurial fire, it appears, is a tough one to extinguish … especially when it’s (literally) in your blood.
“It would not let me rest,” Alexander says. “I had no peace.”
May plan is to build a brand.
– Stephaney Alexander, Alex & Paislee
The big prize
Alexander didn’t jump into her second business venture lightly. This time around, she knew the questions to ask, the things to avoid, and the opportunities to grab.
She can tell you the most granular of details about local demographics, how many customers the anchor tenant, Kroger, has, and what the average income is. And the racial makeup? Easy.
The most amount of planning was centered on money. Alexander financed the store entirely on savings, opting not to start her business in debt.
“I saved for my venture,” Alexander says. “I knew I was taking a risk. But you know what? There’s risk in mutual funds. Only with Alex & Paislee, it’s my passion. I think my chances are better with this.”
But all of this saving, and planning, was not just to open a quaint store. Or even three. Alexander wants to offer her line of clothing for other stores to sell.
“My plan,” she says bluntly, “is to build a brand.”
Help along the way
Alexander had the smallest of details down, from the not-so-subtle LSU themes to picking out the most inviting colors.
But one thing she was not sure of was her retail technology.
The former IT professional discovered NCR Silver on Silver Register, a complete Android-based tablet point-of-sale system.
One of the first things she noticed after signing up for a subscription was the customer support. An NCR Silver Concierge agent, Tia, helped her set up the back office the same day she signed up.
“They could’ve just said, ‘Follow the manual,'” Alexander says. “But Tia walked me through everything in the back office. We even went through test transactions. Even on a Sunday, the support team answered the phone. It made me feel like this was the best purchase I’ve ever made.”
Finding a niche
A decade-plus ago when Alexander opened her first business, Sweet Little Lambs, another children’s clothing store, she had no retail experience. All she knew was that she loved dressing her then young children — now 27, 22 and 15 years old — and that entrepreneurship was something she was born to do.
“Growing up a Southern belle in Louisiana, I loved to dress the part — Mary Jane shoes and what not. I loved dressing my own kids that way, and I was always getting compliments, so children’s clothing seemed like a natural niche.”
As is the case with many entrepreneurial ventures, family support is important. Her sister Erica is currently managing the store. And much of the family has helped design and decorate it to fit Alexander’s vision of making Alex & Paislee an experience as much as a retail shop … all while keeping that Louisiana vibe.
From the slick branding to the mini airplane seats, one is left to feel the decor as the work of professional retail designers … not family.
It’s all family.
When Alexander settled on a good location — which she says is one the most important things a wannabe retailer should be concerned with — she got lucky with her property management group.
Many, she says, turn away businesses that aren’t household brands. But Brixmor Property Group didn’t.
“They gave me the opportunity to birth my dream,” she says. “They were so flexible in the terms I wanted to do, and, most importantly, didn’t turn me away because I wasn’t a well-known business.”
Big business tools
Because of her former profession, Alexander understands the importance of data continuity. Unlike her previous POS system, NCR Silver is cloud-based, making her data safe and easily accessible from anywhere.
Just a few days in, she’s appreciating the ability to get creative with her inventory. She also plans to add an iPad, so she can take transactions on the floor to “bust lines.”
Her shop is using an NCR barcode scanner and third-party label maker that gives her merchandise a big-store feel. Add that to functionality like customer info capture for integrated email campaigns, and she says customers have just assumed she was “a large franchise or something.”
“I can email gift receipts from the system, and I have neatly-printed barcodes,” she says. “NCR Silver makes a small business look big.”