Alison Grooms, the owner of Jules and James Boutique, first made her business mark by selling monogram and sewing services on Etsy. With a focus on children’s items and later expanding to women’s fashion, Alison’s popular products enabled her to expand her business little by little. She went from writing orders down in a notebook to shipping around 1,000 orders a day.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Starting small
- Working your niche to grow
- A final piece of advice
In its earliest days, Alison’s Etsy offerings were called Alison’s Boutique Deals. She sold on Etsy, expanding over time to social media channels, and would manually enter invoices by writing the orders down in a notebook. After a year, she started to get more serious about seeing growth, so she decided to better define her brand. She renamed her business Jules and James Boutique after her children. With 30-45 employees during her busy season and shipping around 1,000 orders a day out of their Georgia-based warehouse, her comfortable start has grown into a productive business.
What helped launch Jules & James into a successful boutique?
It all happened pretty naturally for Alison, and she feels that it was a blessing to get into the business when she did. Balancing her budding business with being a mom meant she had to know how to multitask, while putting first things first. Alison is skilled in juggling the workload, and didn’t hesitate to bring others in to help.
She points out that it takes more than just great timing. Alison said that having several talented people on her leadership/management team has helped with growth. Alison is strong in marketing and knows how to sell anything, but pointed out that she lacks in the ability to manage everything behind the scenes. She needed someone to help ship and manage everything– so when an opportunity to bring her sister-in-law Leah presented itself, Alison invited her to join the team. Leah and Allison balance each other out well. Alison truly believes in the quality of what she’s selling, which leads to a great sales pitch, while Leah is so good at operations. This balance of front end back end has kept all the moving pieces in place for Jules and James.
What do you wish you had known?
Like most business owners, Alison learned a lot by trial and error. Her top advice for those creating a brand is to know who your audience is. Establish who you are by focusing on who your ideal customers are. For example, Alison’s well-defined target audience is a customer who could be a young teacher. Perhaps in her early 30s with 2-3 kids of her own, she lives a busy lifestyle. She dresses to look professional but comfortable, and while she’s a mom, she dresses to feel confident.
Technology has played a part in changing the way Alison’s business runs too. They currently use Comments Sold for online sales including all invoicing and tracking tasks. Online sales have been huge for Jules and James, especially this year with the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has condensed what e-commerce would have done in 3 years down into 4 months.
One final piece of advice
Go for it– go all in. Alison declares that there’s never been a better time to start your e-commerce venture online than now. Do your research, but the most important thing is to get going. If you’re committed to learning and you have the right personality to stick to it– then be like Alison and go for it.