Owner: Christine Campbell
Location: Los Altos and Palo Alto, CA
Number of Employees: 6
Store Opening: Crimson Mim in Los Altos, our first location opened 7 years ago and our second location, in Palo Alto, is almost at its one year anniversary – We opened on April 9th, 2011
When did the store open?
Crimson Mim in Los Altos, our first location, opened seven years ago on Valentine’s Day and our second location in Palo Alto, opened in 2011.
What inspired you to open a store?
I wanted to change careers and industries. I was approaching my 40thbirthday and it seemed a perfect time to take that leap of faith and create an opportunity for myself. Working in the fashion industry was a long-held dream. I did the research and found out that opening and independent boutique specializing in hard-to-find designers and exclusive merchandise seemed the ideal fashion industry entry point.
Prior to opening the store, what did you do?
I worked in high tech marketing in Silicon Valley. I had worked in marketing at an enterprise software company and had my own marketing consulting firm with my ex-husband. Prior to that I worked in high tech in Toronto, Canada.
Do you think your past professional life has helped you in your current one as a multiple boutique owner?
Yes, of course, I’d worked for myself in the past (in two different marketing consulting firms), so that gave me confidence to own and operate my business in another industry. And certainly, my marketing background and attention to detail-a-must- have as a small business owner.
What hours do you work in store?
I am at one location or the other most days for the hours we are open (8 or 9 hours, depending on the location) as well as before and /or after, unless I’m on buying trip. I won’t deny the hours are LONG. But, that’s true for most entrepreneurs.
What are the three top selling categories of product?
Footwear, sweaters, dresses.
Is there one particular vendor that blows out of your store?
Attilio Giusti Leombruni (AGL) shoes are very successful for us. Their flat oxfords in our exclusive colors and materials fly out as soon as they arrive. Our customers recognize the quality, wearability and versatility of these designs.
What tricks do you have up your sleeve for having store success?
Outstanding customer service, unique, differentiated (even exclusive) merchandise, visually stimulating merchandising and constant marketing. Our customers’ happiness is the measure of our success.
What struggles do you find as a store owner?
Finding outstanding, enthusiastic, self-starting sales associates is our number one challenge. We’re always recruiting. Also, now that we have two locations, it’s impossible to be at both of them at the same time.
What is your greatest pleasure in owning a store?
We’re thrilled to be able to introduce emerging, up-and-coming designers to the Bay Area who sometimes go onto commercial success.
Where do you do most of your buying from?
Generally from New York-based designers that are not widely available on the West Coast. We’re often the first store in California or the Bay Area to carry emerging New York designers.
When in NY doing your buying, where exactly are you finding your products from?
We go to the trade shows (Designers & Agents, Coterie, Capsule), multi-line showrooms and designer’s own showrooms. We mix it up!
A final thought… What keeps you going despite your very full schedule?
There’s always something new, different, and exciting in fashion. I never get tired of seeing new things and discovering new designers! Growth, expansion, and launching our e-commerce site are also goals that keep me motivated. Last, but not least, being around amazing clothes, shoes and handbags all day is a lot of fun.