FGI Houston Presents- Shop Talk: A Big Talk on Small Businesses
Fashion Group International of Houston recently held a panel discussion regarding “small business.” The event was co-hosted by Tout Suite, a bakery and cafe that is new to Downtown and will be opening soon. The panel was moderated by Sarah Gabbart of Houstonia Magazine and featured five key small business owners: Brandi Garcia of Do or Dye TX, Cheryl Schulke of Stash Co., Davina Tweedy- director of marketing for Langford Market, Jackie Adams of Melodrama and Jenny Morgan of Settlement Goods.
After a few opening remarks by the lovely Sydney Dao, the panel discussion began. Here is a synopsis of the topics and advice that were discussed throughout the evening…
*Branding and Building Buzz Before Opening the Store
– Free Fridays (usually during first year).
– Discounts on back of business cards for first year.
– Martini Mondays (usually during first year).
– Networking, handing out flyers door-to-door, trunk shows.
– Pop-up shops, professional womens networking groups, selling via Facebook and Instagram.
– Instagram is such an amazing and free resource.
*How to Stay Current and Keep-Up with Changing Market
– Sometimes you have to change as the economy changes.
– As your long-term clients grow in life, you need to change and grow to fit their needs as well.
*How Do You Maintain Store Presence?
– Do charity and beauty events.
– Trunk shows.
– Emails (like constant contact) and social media.
– Be consistent on social media.
– Keeping up with the customer (such as sending birthday cards).
“It’s not always about ‘sell, sell, sell;’ but also enriching your customer.”
*Long Term Goals and Advice to Future Business Owners
Jackie of Meladrama and Cheryl of Stash Co. had some very enlightening advice on this topic.
– Write down your ideas. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, it’s probably already been done. Put your own spin to it.
– Do something that you are passionate about.
– Always try to give back to the community.
– Do the research.
– Start out small, while building your clientele.
– Create your own experience when you own a business.
– “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
– Check out books (and their websites) by Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin.
– “Do the best you can, until you know better and then do better.” – Maya Angelou
– “Don’t push the river.” If it doesn’t feel right or if you are pushing/working too hard, it’s probably best to rethink your business.
– Don’t go into business with the wrong person. Always trust your gut.
– Budget out operating expenses a year in advance.
The event concluded with some closing remarks from the owners (and gracious hosts) of Tout Suite and Shop Talk Chair- Trang Nguyen. Followed by a continuation of networking and mingling.
HUGE thanks to the folks at FGI Houston, Tout Suite, Sarah, Brandi, Cheryl, Davina, Jackie and Jenny!
Patty Holthaus, Owner, Passion For Photography
Thank you so much for being there for small business owners.