A temporary retail approach, Whalum explained the toughest aspect of implementing pop-up shops is getting the word out within the short time frame that the store is open.
“It’s really fun and I love those. It is a lot of hard work, but it’s good because the face-to-face time with your customers is awesome. You get to see what pieces they love and why and if they’ve heard of someone like you before. If they’ve been eyeing a piece, they get to see it in person and it makes the buying experience even more special,” Whalum said.
“A lot goes into opening a boutique. Until you can actually do it, pop-up shops are a great means to get a little bit of boutique experience. It also gives you time to get your ducks in a row and make sure your boutique will be how you want it.”
Balancing the Risks
In addition to offering exclusive accessories like the bow low necklace — a chic alternative to a women’s bowtie, the shoulder Babette Epaulette, sculpture-like figure eight earrings and earwings (Badu’s favorite), Whalum also seeks to provide items that will last more than a couple months.
“I look for pieces that will stand out and stand the test of time. You can have it in your twenties, continue to wear it and the quality will maintain so you’ll be able to have it years down the line,” she said.
Carrying items, some priced as high as $180.00, one risk Whalum points out is acquiring costly pieces. “It can be difficult. When acquiring pieces for the boutique, I always keep in mind the economic status and try to have a wide range of prices for customers to choose from,” Whalum said. “I also try to accurately display and describe the piece so that consumers understand the great handcrafted quality. If a piece doesn’t sell during the season, it goes on sale. “
When asked if an online boutique is easier to run than an actual store, Whalum says yes and no. In the sense of being able to move at her own pace and be creative in the online arena, it is. However, keeping up with inventory and managing the various collections in-house can get pretty hectic.
Adding a bit more bustle to her online boutique hustle, Whalum has already started designing STONEnyc’s jewelry and accessory line. “It’s personally stuff I would wear and that I love, just fun pieces,” added Whalum. “I just want to encourage women to explore other options and support independent designers because they really have some pieces that will turn heads when you walk into the room.”