The Post Office Stairs

By Julie Knight
on April 26, 2016

The Post Office Stairs

I go to the post office almost every day thanks to my wonderful customers.  My morning routine is simple...leave with the boys, stop at the post office, hit the coffee drive-thru, drop the boys at school, and head to work.  Every time I go up the stairs I think they are the strangest steps on the planet. They have a short rise ~ I don't know if that's the right way to describe the distance between steps but you get the drift. They are so short that it feels strange to take one step at a time but it's a little awkward to take them two at a time.

When we were 25, Dan decided he wanted to go back to school to become a pharmacist. We already went to college and had jobs. I was an accountant at a graphic design firm and Dan worked at Procter & Gamble. Why not try something else? Around the same time we wanted to try to start our family. We didn't know if either would happen so we tried for both. He only applied locally (aka one school) because I would have to keep my job for us to stay afloat. We were lucky and both things happened ~ he was accepted at the University of Cincinnati and I got pregnant. Alexa was only six weeks old when he started pharmacy school. Why not, right? It makes total sense to leave your full-time job to go back to school when you have a new baby at home. Did I mention it was a four year program? Some might say we are a little nuts. I second that.

As Dan was getting towards the end of pharmacy school we wanted to try for another child. Without going into the details it simply wasn't happening. After Dan graduated he did a residency (why not add a 5th year to this mix when you've already done four?) at the VA Hospital and they had really good insurance coverage, which included fertility benefits. Unheard of, right? My gut said we needed to do it. I talked him into seeing the specialist. Our whole reason for not doing it was the fear of having multiples. They day we met with the doctor he looked at me and said "you know those odds of having multiples with fertility drugs are BS, right? I read the information and know the odds." Fast forward to the day I was having an ultrasound...I'll never forget how hard he jabbed my side when we saw those little circles on the screen. That night in bed I remember saying "if you want to tell me I told you so, now is the time to do it." He didn't, because he's a great man, and we went down this path together. We are so blessed to have Trevor and Gavin and the rest is history. Some say having twin boys is crazy.  I second that.

What on earth does this have to do with owning a boutique and post office stairs? Everything. Was it crazy to start a boutique when I had more than enough on my plate? When I get trigger happy late at night and order a lot of new inventory is it scary? When I order from a new company is it scary to see if it's good quality and true to size? Will I really find customers? Will they like the clothes when they arrive? Will I be able to build a website? Will my brand resonate with anyone? Will I write good product copy? Will I be able to pay for my business credit card bill? Some might say I'm crazy for opening a boutique. I second that.

With all the choices we made along the way we took the two steps at a time mentality. It felt a little wobbly, unsteady, scary, and uncomfortable. It's risky. It's hard. You might miss a step and fall flat on your face. You might hurt yourself. But if you never try, and you take the safe route by taking one step at a time at the post office, you may never reach your goal. 

Dan had the vision to take two steps at a time and go back to school. I learned a lot from him and decided to take my two steps with Tag.

"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore" - Christopher Columbus

XO, Julie

The photo is of Alexa in September 2003 on Dan's last day of work before starting school. 

Two Day Hair

By Julie Knight
on April 22, 2016

Two Day Hair

It's Friday and I have five and a half hours to myself. Yes, five and a half hours. All.To.Myself. I don't work at Coho on Friday and the kids are in school (one in seventh and two in first) so I have exactly five and a half hours to call my own. I go through a mild depression every June when my girlfriends are off for the summer but then I think that I get five and a half hours to myself each and every week.  Consistent time off works for me and I'd be a horrible teacher, so it's win win.

When I started Tag I thought I could accomplish most of my work during my Friday solitude.  "Oh I'll ship my orders on Friday" said the naive new boutique owner in her mind. I didn't realize that having the red number notification on my Shopify app, indicating I have an order to fill, would make me twitch. It's all good though, because my customers often comment on how fast I ship, which makes them happy...and the little red notification circle on my app goes away and that makes me happy, so all is right in the world. 

Speaking of customers I received some wonderful feedback this week. I mentioned in a previous post I'm an avid subscription service shopper (If I'm shopping on Fridays I'm not working on my business), specifically Stitch Fix. If I keep clothes for myself (remember my post "The Struggle is Real"), I have less for my customers, so I turn to other places to get my clothes. Earlier this week I received the following compliment from my customer, Julie H.:  

"Hi Julie, I received the tops from my first order this week and I love them! Also, I am really glad we went with the medium in the Korinn. It is perfect! Thanks again!!! I also got a Stitch Fix box today, my first in over 3 months, and I liked what I received from you soooo much better!"

This was just one of many nice messages I received this week.  I love hearing from you and it really keeps me going.  I do this because I love to shop, I love feeling good in my clothes, and if I can help other women do the same, then I'm doing my job.

What's on the agenda for today? I'm writing this post, costing out new inventory, uploading new products to my website, mapping out my new Deal of the Day posts (thank goodness for the ability to pre-schedule your posts on Facebook), and working on other new marketing ideas. I'm working on gift card development, donations to local fundraisers, and ordering new inventory. I wonder how much of this I'll actually accomplish?  Oh yeah ~ I can't forget about the personal to do list too.  Buy a birthday present, schedule appointments, run errands, do laundry.  I think today's five and a half will fly by.

So what on earth does two day hair have to do with anything? Quite simply, I'm in awe of all the women I know that only have to wash their hair every two days.  I look like Medusa when I wake up and there is no taming my hair without a full wash, blow dry, and style. If I DID have two day hair, I would have about 90 more hours in my life over the course of the year. I could get a lot accomplished in 90 hours, but until I figure out how to get two day hair, I'll have to do my best getting everything done on Fridays.

Have a great week, thanks for reading, and happy shopping.  

XO,
Julie

 

 

The Struggle is Real

By Julie Knight
on April 12, 2016

The Struggle is Real

The Struggle is real...what's the struggle you ask? Not keeping all my new inventory for myself! I received boxes on Friday and I was like a kid, wide eyed with excitement, after her parent tells her she can get a double dip ice cream instead of the usual one dip. The problem with keeping inventory is that I usually wear a large, and that's my best selling size.  

So that got me thinking about the last week and all the excitement, as well as the positive response I had from last week's blog post.  I thought, what has happened to me in the last week that I'd like to share with my loyal Tag shoppers?  What are things I've been asked in the last week?  Here's a little more about Tag adventures and myself.  

  • When I make orders I don't get to choose the sizes. Oh how I wish I did! Wholesale inventory comes in pre-packaged quantities with a predetermined size ratio. It's usually 2 Small, 2 Medium, and 2 Large. Some vendors only send 2 Small, 3 Mediums, and 1 Large. Seriously vendors, one large? Not cool.
  • Do I carry plus sizes? I do, and I'm working on finding good suppliers for plus size. I used to be plus size and finding trendy boutique clothing in plus sizes is a struggle that's near and dear to my heart.  
  • My wonderful neighbor Julie saved my inventory when it was downpouring in Cincinnati and I was at work. Boutique owner fear is having boxes on the front steps getting soaked. My lovely neighbors are also extremely patient with the amount of boxes on the curb when it's trash day.
  • I have a very real fear of snakes. You won't find snake prints in my inventory anytime soon. I recently received a pair of snake print shoes from a Stitch Fix box and I could barely slip my foot in them. 
  • I had to put myself out there and act as the model, which is a word I'm using extremely loosely, for one of my inventory items (The Andrea top). The vendor sold out before they took model shots and I had to get it uploaded on my website. Even though I have a mannequin I prefer showing clothes on people, but it is a stretch to go outside my comfort zone. Thanks to photographer Dan! 
  • I work with a beautiful group of women and they graciously agreed to do a photo shoot for Tag! I'm so excited because you'll get to see all the new inventory on real women of all ages, shapes, and sizes.  Thank you to the ladies of Coho Creative!
  • Do I work in marketing? Kind of.....Coho Creative is a graphic design and branding studio. I'm one of the owners and I handle the finance, operations, and human resources functions of the business. While I'm not the creative genius behind the business, it is an inspiring and creative environment. 
  • Product naming is fun and challenging. I've cycled through my immediate family, besties, grandparents (some can't be used ~ I don't think anyone would want to by a top named Annie Laurie or Winnie Marie). My son Gavin tried to help me this weekend and his suggestion was "weird shirt 1" but tragically it came across as "weird shit 1" when he said it! Can you say doubletake? His other idea was "Moo Moo." We call Macy "Macy Moo" sometimes, don't ask how that evolved, nicknames just happen, and I had to gently let him down that women wouldn't want to buy a shirt called "Moo Moo."
  • I believe in kharma. Treat others with respect, be honest, and live by the golden rule. Don't create unnecessary drama. Life's way easier when you do the right thing. I don't have any space in my life for people who are mean-spirited.
  • Macy was in the doghouse (no pun intended) when she tried to leap on the table and steal my inventory. Close call with the pooch...she got the nickname Naughty Knight for a reason.
  • I have a son, Trevor (the T in TAG), who has some developmental challenges. He has extreme anxiety and developmental delays, and gets fixated on things and it's so hard for him to "make a switch." He was so well behaved this weekend AND got two starts at school on Monday. These are small victories for which I'm extremely thankful. 

Have a great week everyone & I'd love to hear from you in the meantime.

XO,

Julie

What I've learned....

By Julie Knight
on April 05, 2016

It's been just about four months since Tag Online Boutique opened and it's been an awesome adventure.  Tag has proven to be fun, exciting, and rewarding in such a short amount of time.  It's proven to be the creative outlet I need. I'm feel very thankful and grateful from all the support that's come my way in such a short amount of time.  I receive lots of questions so I thought it would be fun to post a little about my adventures with opening Tag!

  • This is a perfect match with my love of shopping.  
  • I still shop at other places...I have my favorite boutiques & stores just like everyone else.  Not to mention clothing subscription services because now more than ever, I don't have any time to go out shopping for myself!  My personal faves are Stitch Fix and Trunk Club. #fulltimejobmomof3boutiqueowner
  • The most common question I receive is "how do you have time to do this?" I don't really know, I just make it happen. You make time for what you love.
  • Everyone asks if Alexa likes to help me with the business.  The answer is not in the slightest....her love is cooking and she hates shopping with a passion.  
  • I love finding a piece and instantly knowing which of my friends will look like a million bucks wearing it.
  • Size charts...the bain of my existence.  Why, why, why do clothing vendors not provide them?  Life would be so much easier if they existed.  
  • Silica gel packets.  You know, those pesky little white packets that come in shoe boxes?  Yeah, some vendors load up each shirt with 3-4 of those little guys.  Try keeping those off the floor and away from your puppy! They are my enemy.  
  • My feelings are not hurt when someone doesn't like something in my inventory. Not everything will resonate with everyone.  I intentionally shop for all body types and styles.  
  • It's hard to shop outside your own comfort zone.  Hence, I still don't have any cold/open shoulder tops on the site.  I'm trying to pull the trigger on one of those.  
  • Inspect inventory very carefully....there's nothing worse than pulling an item off the rack and finding a ripped seam!  On the flip side, emailing the customer to let her know I can't sell it to her is better than shipping an item sight unseen.  This is why I don't dropship.  
  • Sometimes you forget which Facebook pages you're allowed to post about your business and where you're not...and you get kicked out of groups.  Oops!  I begged for forgiveness and it's all good.  
  • When you make website updates late at night you REALLY appreciate your sister pointing out a spelling error.  Radiantly RUSHED...oops, let's make the RUCHED.  I was certainly RUSHED that night...sigh.
  • I'll never forget the first time I saw a customer post positive feedback about Tag in a Facebook group.  It's such an amazing feeling.
  • I'm thankful the post office is on my morning route.  My daily drive is the post office, Dunkin for an XL coffee, drop the boys at school, head to Coho (day job). #efficiency
  • I love, love, love getting to know my customers. 
  • Customer messages are the BEST!  I love hearing when they love an item so much and they simply want to share the joy with me.  
  • Imagine the fear when your 7 year old twin boys have friends over and they bring snacks near my order packing area.  I'll give 'em credit, it's our kitchen island. Spill it on the carpet kids, but don't you dare mess with my inventory.
  • Having orders that aren't packaged and ready to ship makes me anxious.  I ship everything within 24 hours.  When I order online I don't want to wait, so I don't want my customers to wait!
  • I have a full-time job at a graphic design & branding studio.  I'm a trained accountant, but you know what...I loathe the accounting part for Tag. I wish I could skip that part!!!
  • I have the most supportive husband, kids, family, friends, and co-workers.  
  • Reach for your dreams...it takes courage.  You only live once. Make it count & have fun along the way. 

XO,

Julie

Open for two weeks....

By Julie Knight
on December 25, 2015

Christmas Day marks the two week anniversary of TAG Online Boutique.  I am filled with gratitude for those who made orders and took a chance on my start-up business.  Thank you so much to my first customers!

I have so much excitement for all of you who shopped at TAG. Receiving feedback along the way has been wonderful...I can't express how excited I was the day I got the call from a customer saying "Will you bring all your inventory to my office because everyone wants to see it!"  I had customers send thank you notes to friends that referred them to our site.  The excitement is contagious.  I love it...and feel so energized.  

Creating TAG Online Boutique was about a new adventure and having fun.  It's proven to be exactly so.  It's been fun, all while learning so much each and every day.  I've learned how to scour through magnitudes of wholesale websites and figure out what is worth ordering and what's not.  I continue to feel strong about my decision not to drop ship.  I want to see every product that I sell - touch it, feel it, try it on, and ensure the quality if up to par. I've learned that taking product photography is no easy task and that puppies can really put your backdrop through the ringer!  

I started this business at the height of the chaos that comes with the holidays. To celebrate the first two weeks I'm running an after Christmas sale which offers 20% off your entire order through 11:59pm on December 26th.  Use the code DEC2620 as many times as you'd like and please feel free to share with your friends.  

Happy Holidays to all!

XO,

Julie

An Epic Fail

By Julie Knight
on December 13, 2015

An Epic Fail

One thing I love about opening TAG Online Boutique is it pushes me outside my comfort zone.  Attempting to photograph the reversible tote bag was, as my daughter would say, "an epic fail, Mom."  A mannequin with arms would have been mighty helpful! 

While it may have been an epic fail, I had fun...and that's what matters.  If you can't laugh at yourself, and your terrible tote photography, what can you do? At least my little buddy Macy cooperated for a good picture...and didn't attempt to eat any inventory...so that's a win in my book!

XO,

Julie

 

 

The Moment of Truth

By Julie Knight
on December 13, 2015

Do you ever have those moments when you think "Oh S&$!, I just posted that online?" I had that moment on Friday night.  I received my updated logo artwork and updated the website and the next thing I know I'm asking my friends to like the page on Facebook. ACK!  This wasn't in my planner...I didn't have an official launch date....well, looks like I do now!  Was it exciting?  YES!  Was it scary? YES!  It was...the moment of truth.  

For me, it's like putting it out there to the world that you're on a diet.  Once you announce that you're on a diet, suddenly everyone takes more notice of what you're eating and if you're exercising.  This felt like a really big announcement because there were just a handful of people that knew about TAG.  What will people say?  Will they think it's crazy?  Will they like the website?  Will they like the merchandise?  

I managed to put all those "what's" to bed and when I woke up Saturday I had an overwhelming amount of support from my family & friends. I'm overwhelmed by with gratitude for my first six customers on my first day. I happily packed them up and have them en route at the post office to be delivered.  Thank you to my first six...you know who you are!

Now the next moment of truth comes...what will people think when the clothing arrives? 

Until then, 

Julie

 

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