Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! How is your day going so far? I hope that no matter what your relationship status is or your plans are, that you'll use today to spread a little love to someone in your life. Today's post is really special to me, because I'm showing some love to my favorite local boutique - Mimi Mae Boutique.
Mimi Mae is owned by my friend Cori. We met when I was in high school because we both took dance at the same studio. For as long as I've known Cori, her goal has been to work in the fashion industry. She started out by working in a formal wear shop, and eventually branched out to having an online boutique on the side. Last August, Mimi Mae Boutique branched out into a brick and mortar shop. (The exterior is pink, of course, and if you know Cori personally, this doesn't surprise you in the least bit!)
The thing about Mimi Mae that sets it apart from other boutiques is that it feels like home. The posh pink sofa, that would typically seem just for looks, beckons you to have a seat. Take a piece of candy from the bowl. Watch an episode of Gossip Girl. Enjoy a donut or a chicken mini or whatever kind of treat Cori may have brought in for her shoppers that day.
When I think about my favorite brands, so much of what I love about them comes from that in-store shopping experience. There's something about being inside of Lilly Pulitzer that just makes me feel happy and giddy. When I go to Kate Spade, it's like sensory overload, and I love every minute of it. And riding the escalator to the next floor at Nordstrom makes me feel like I'm transporting into another world. So for Mimi Mae, a small, local boutique to make me feel the same way says a lot about how Cori turns shopping into an experience.
I had the opportunity to ask Cori a few questions about being a small business owner, work/life balance, and upcoming trends, so keep reading for more of that!
Tell us a little bit about you.
Anyone with a Pinterest account has surely come across the fun pin that reads “Glitter in My Veins” at some point. It is more or a less an accurate description of me. I grew up as the older sister of two brothers, and even though Hot Wheels and Scooby-Doo dominated my Mary Kate and Ashley obsession, I never strayed away from my girly girl roots. Every special occasion I wanted to wear a fancy dress and shoes to match. Some things never change. J-14 magazines and Teen Vogue were my literary bibles that I constantly had stashed away in my bedroom. I could not stop wondering about the up and coming fashion pieces.
When I was 16 years old I got a call from a formal wear store to work part time. That phone call led to a job that I had for 10 years. I learned so very much from my former boss Kristie. You can study fashion day in and day out but until you work in it you are clueless.
When Mimi Mae started out, it was strictly online, pop-up shops, and meeting people locally to deliver their goodies, while you still worked a full time job. When did you know it was the right time to set up shop with a brick and mortar location?
Mimi Mae grew quicker and into something more than I would have ever imagined. Though yes, I had been dreaming of someday having my own store, I never expected it to all evolve to what it is now. The formal wear store I mentioned earlier, Annie’s Room, was my life for a decade and I will always have a special place for it in my heart; I like to think that I could pick right back up where I left off but I knew I needed to spread my wings when I truly just could not keep up both anymore.
Okay, let me rephrase that. I could keep both up, but I truly was not giving my all to my second born. MM. My mom once told me that she feared I would wait and wait to branch out with my online store, and the day I did decide to branch out it would be too late. Needless to say her, words haunted me.
You're a wife, a mother, and a small business owner. How do you balance it all?
Balance seems to be something I learn to manage a bit better as each day comes. I was blessed with a wonderful husband and father who understands my lifestyle and is always giving great advice as he himself is a small business owner. Our daughter Sophie Mae (like Mae in Mimi Mae hehe) is a spirit like no other. She gives me the motivation to get up and do what I do. Being a boutique owner has been rewarding over the past soon to be four years, and I give all the credit to the amazing customers I have acquired. I figure if I have a positive attitude and do the right thing, everything else will fall into place.
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about what you do? (Submitted by @Livi_Burke)
My favorite thing about what I do would have to be the buying process. I was introduced to buying when I was a teenager ( over a decade ago, Im getting old lol) by a local formalwear store. Seeing all the new trends and styles every season are very exciting but for me personally analyzing past trend reports and choosing pieces and items to bring to the store that I think my girls will love is the coolest.
Hmmm, my least favorite thing. Gosh this is a tough one. Ok for that question I would say that like any business owner, knowing that one day you can be profitable and the next day is not. Everyday I open the store is another day I thank God that I seem to be surviving.
What are your three favorite pieces of inventory - past or present? How do you choose your inventory?
Picking three favorite pieces of Mimi is super hard. More like impossible. I just scrolled through the 2,136 posts and looked… I've come to realize rompers + Piko dresses in any color + gift items are my most favorite things that I bring into the store but one piece did stand out to me as one of my most favorite.
Like many people that buy, I do take a look at current trends BUT for me personally, if it looks different and gives me butterflies when I see it come down the runway or spot it in an upcoming seasonal catalog, count me in.
What do you think will be the hottest trends for 2017?
So far anything with a grunge or Kylie Jenner appeal has been doing wonders on the racks at 3813 Memorial. As a matter of fact, the more holes and rips the better for some customers.
I expect to see prints debut heavily come spring and summer. Gingham will most likely appear as it does from time to time and is always such a classic.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own boutique?
The best advice that I could give to someone aspiring to open up a boutique of their own would be to remain different. Whether it be the aesthetic of your store or your ways of customer service, just be different. People fail daily because they are only trying to climb higher with the ideas of someone else. My favorite college professor once told me: “You can set up shop next to a store carrying exactly the same product that you do. But find your reason to make the customer want to walk in your door and not their door.”
I'd highly encourage y'all to connect with Mimi Mae Boutique on Twitter and Instagram. (You can place your future orders through the MM Instagram!) A big thanks to Cori for working with me on this post. (And if you're as obsessed with her skirt as I am, you can find it here.)
If there's a business you'd like to see highlighted here, I'd love to hear from ya! Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! Love you, mean it!