My Baby is THREE

Y'all, Demure is THREE YEARS OLD TODAY!!!  

That boutique of mine has been quite a work in progress!!  Owning a boutique is like laundry... Nothing's ever really quite done!!

Ever since starting this blog, and having another platform from which to tell people about Demure, I've actually gotten more questions about how to open a boutique than I have about how to start a blog LOL!!  I'm not sure why that is, because really, in its infancy, A Demure Life would be considered more successful than Demure was at the same amount of time...  But that's ok, I've learned a whole lot in the past 3 years {which is mostly why A Demure Life has found quicker success} and I'm totally willing to share the facts of "how to start a business" with you!!

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First things first - I will assume you have already thought out your plan, consulted someone older and wiser {and maybe even an expert in the field}, and have researched the particulars of your business so that the general how-to's here will makes since!  And just so you know, I didn't write a formal business plan until I had already been in business for 2 years, because my business was constantly evolving into what it was going to become, and I just didn't know for sure yet what EXACTLY I wanted it to be...  So, here's were to begin:

1.  Claim Your Name:  I did this by forming an LLC... A Limited Liability Corporation... Which protects you and your personal finances from being entangled in any potential lawsuit or bankruptcy!  This is done at your state's Secretary of State's office, and costs $110 {at least that's what it costs in SC}.  Before driving down to do it though, you should check their website and make sure that the name you want your company to have has not already been taken!!

2.  Once you officially have a company created, you will then need to apply for an EIN number!  This is basically your company's social security number, and its used for banking and tax purposes!  It also goes along with protecting yourself and personal finances!!  Plus, its done all online at irs.gov {P.S. I tried to do this too soon after having changed my name after Blake and I got married, and it was a TOTALY NIGHTMARE, but for you it should only take 24 hours MAX}.

3.  You will then use your new EIN number to go file for your business license!  This is done at your state's Department of Revenue and it costs $50 {at least that's what it costs in SC}  While you are already there, go ahead and sign up for a "paying your sales tax" class and get a couple copies of the "sales tax exemption" forms {because some wholesalers request to keep one on file, so you'll want to have multiple}.

4.  Next, go start your company checking account!  I went the traditional bank route first and got charged fees far too often for not being able to keep the minimum balance in my account and it ended up ending badly... So, please learn form my mistake and start your business checking account with a Credit Union!  I'm talking the difference between starting up your checking account with $200 and $25, respectively!!  There my be other banks out there that do things a little differently, but at my bank, business accounts are treated very differently than personal accounts, and $200 was just not something I could keep in my account at all times to avoid a fee (and still can't)!!  Please remember to start your bank account using your EIN number instead of your own personal Social Security Number - PROTECT YOURSELF!

5.  So now, this is where the majority of my questions start, but you have to go through all of those steps before this one is even possible, but most people don't even know 1-4 even exist!  The number 1 question I am asked: "Where do you get your merchandise?"  And the answer is: "I buy my merchandise from various wholesalers!"  But the reason all those other steps are necessary first is because you can not buy from a wholesaler without the Retail (business) License!  That would be illegal because wholesalers don't charge tax {the reason for the tax exemption form} so you have to be buying it with the purpose of reselling it {and charging sales tax at the point of sale} in order for it all to be legal!!

6.  Then, the follow-up question usually is: "Well, which wholesalers do you purchase from?"  And my answer to that is very simple:  I have 2 favorites, though I have purchased from many others!  I buy mostly from The Lookbook Wholesale based out of L.A. and Miss B, a small wholesaler based out of Atlanta, GA in America's Mart, to which I will be going in person in August and I am SO EXCITED!!  You can google search wholesalers and hundreds will pop up!  You will then just have to choose your favorites!!  Make sure to check where their warehouse vs. their headquarters is because I get charged a $4.99 fee every time I order from one particular wholesaler... They have a warehouse in New Jersey, so you get your merchandise pretty quickly!  However, they are based out of France, so the charge is an international one, and most banks/credit unions charge a fee for international purchases!

7.  Next, you need a platform on which to sell these products you have now purchased!  A website of any kind will do if you market it correctly!  Etsy works for some (though I didn't like selling through them much), and I know of one VERY SUCCESSFUL boutique that sells via Instagram exclusively!!  As long as you have a way of getting your merchandise in front of the eyes of your target market, you can succeed!!  I personally use Squarespace for both ADL and Demure!  I love how user friendly it is, how great the customer service/tech support is, and honestly, they are just really pretty sites {very stream-lined, which is something I value}!!

8. Advertise and Market yourself like CRAZY!!!  Social Media is truly, very important to this!  And I would like to say that all you blogger babes reading this already have an advantage that I didn't have!!  3 years ago Instagram was JUST taking off as such a valuable resource for marketing!!  But I was so slow to the game... I didn't even start an Instagram for Demure until I was 8 months in!!  And then, after that it took me SOOO long to catch on to how it worked, how to make it work for me, and honestly, I would sometimes go a whole month without posting!!  I only had 400 followers on Demure's Instagram page until November 2016... I've tripled that number since then - in just 6 months I've tripled the number of followers that I had gotten in the previous 2 years combined!!  It makes me so sad really, when I think back on it...  I don't even know how much farther I would have gotten had I truly understood the importance of the social media influence when I first started... But I was also probably too young to have started a business then, so God has me right where He wants me right now!!!

Ok ladies, this post is already too long as it is!  I will stop here for now, but PLEASE leave your questions below!!  There is really an infinite amount of stuff I could tell you, but it would be so much easier for me to continue this in a series if I have exact questions to answer, so I could condense my thought into what is relevant to y'all, specifically!!

I hope you've enjoyed reading what I've had to say so far!  And I look forward to reading and answering your questions!!!

XOXO - Rachel

P.S. To celebrate being in business for 3 years, I am holding an Anniversary Sale - 40% off your entire purchase!!  Use code: HAPPY3RD at checkout to receive it at http://www.mydemure.com