This month, I am so excited to share with you one of my favorite business (& real-life) friends, Stacey Johnson! I met Stacey when I first moved to Kearney and I stumbled into her store after feeling pretty down and lonely in our new home town. Stacey welcomed me with open arms and invited me to her bible study! She has such a drive and determination to make every person (business owner & otherwise) feel welcomed and loved - & I absolutely love that about her!
Take a look about what Stacey has to say about business & life!
Q: What is your Business?
Edith Joi Boutique located in Kearney, Nebraska. We are a women’s boutique focusing on comfort, both with clothing and the experience you have each time you visit. We would love for our customers to feel as though they are stepping into their own closet.
Our store’s tag line is “Style and grace in a comfortable space, where kindness is given room to blossom.”
Q: Why did you start it?
We started because I have always dreamed of owning a boutique with a style all my own at an affordable price. Our clothes aren’t cheap, we spend a lot of time vetting our brands by washing and wearing them to ensure our customers are receiving the very best quality. Then we price. I like to think of it like this: you buy a top from us for, say, $27 (Our basic tees) and you are able to wear that tee for the next 3 years (at least, trust me.) So that means that shirt was worth $9 a year to you. What if it lasts for 5 years? Now it was just over $5. I don’t know about you, but I love a good basic top and if it lasts me for 5+ years, I will spend MONEY on it. You don’t have to. That is why I continue to test everything we purchase for quality.
We opened Edith Joi on August 3, 2017 so we just celebrated our first year this last weekend. It was fun to have so many of our beautiful customers in our store all at the same time!
Q: What are you most proud of as a business owner?
My pride is the business we have created. We purchased another business in April of 2016 that we loved, but it was not perfect for us. So we closed that store and rebranded to create the boutique of every woman’s dreams. It is beautiful, comfortable, classy, and affordable. All of the things I wished for it to be. Everything from our logo to the scent when you walk into the store is considered. Your experience is important to us!!
Q: What is your biggest struggle that you’ve overcome? And how did you handle it?
The biggest struggle was changing the mindset of the majority of women in our community. We had many women tell us they were not comfortable in the previous business for one reason or another, and we wanted that to change. We began carrying extra smalls and plus sizes to accommodate as many ladies as we are able. We also carry a wide range of shoe sizes and keep our prices as reasonable as possible. We aren’t getting rich off of our business, but we are rich from the love that we receive from the amazing women who shop with us. We don’t have customers, we have friends!
Q: Who is your biggest (business) role model? Why?
That is such a fun question because I used to aspire to be one certain business owner. Then, the more we evolved, I realized I don’t want to be anyone else but me. I absolutely adore Laura Benson, the owner of Filly Flair Boutique, because she has grown her business to be a massive nationwide celebrity in the boutique world. But Laura did exactly as I mentioned I want to do. She created her own brand by being her own person, unapologetically and without reserve. After owning our boutique for a year now, and with 3 years of boutique ownership experience, I have learned that being unique isn’t what is most important. Being YOU is. Most people shop with me because they want “The Stacey Experience.” That is so important to recognize because I want to be able to provide that experience to every person who enters our store; female, male, kiddo, or pup! (Yes, we are pet friendly here!!)
Q: What advice would you give yourself when you first started?
Don’t buy someone else’s business/creation/idea, do it yourself!! I look back now and just have to realize that buying someone else’s creation was actually a very expensive education. The previous owner created a beautiful brand, but it wasn’t my brand. I needed to learn these things, but it could have been done at a much lesser price. You live and you learn, right?!
Also, as I mentioned, brand yourself. You are what people want. Don’t forget the ones who helped you get your start and run with the wolves when necessary. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t back down to the ones who want to see you fail. The right attitude will cure any wrong situation. You will always attract more flies with honey than vinegar, sweet girl!!
You can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t let the bumps in the road get you down. Someday isn’t that far away.
Q: Where does your inspiration come from?
I find inspiration from my customers. I listen to what they want and are looking for and I find it. My style is unique to the area, but not out of the ordinary. Nebraska typically has two styles, country or trendy. I like to fall in the middle of all that with classic styles that will stick around for a long time. I carry a few trendy pieces, but I love to find classic items like wrap dresses or basic tees that you can keep in your closet and style many different ways for years to come.
One of my favorite pieces from my closet is a pair of ankle wrap espadrilles that I bought in 1999 from Macy’s. They are orange and beaded and I have worn them every year since I bought them. If you look, you will find things that can last for a really long time, 20 years if you’re lucky!! I always receive compliments when I wear them and it’s fun to share how long I have owned them. Quality and classic are never out of style.
Q: Anything else you may want to say to someone else wanting to start but too afraid.
Be unapologetically you. If you stay true to yourself, no one can ever say you aren’t being original. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean you can’t come back and try again later. And don’t give up. It is so easy to have one failure and give up. I would say my biggest failure so far was my first plus size clothing purchase. I ended donating about ¾ of it to a local women’s shelter. It was great clothing, but not right for the ladies who shop with me. It was a hard to pill to swallow and an even bigger bill to pay, but I stepped back, listened to my customers, and tried again.
You can find Stacy and their boutique at:
On IG at: @edith_joi
Or Facebook: www.facebook.com/edithjoi