This entrepreneur created a flourishing online boutique at the ripe old age of 21. Read about how she manages the more tedious side of running a retail store—like bookkeeping and inventory—while staying passionate and excited about the brand she’s built.
Alexandra Mulhearn, owner of online boutique Winsome Sash, has always loved clothing. But as with many fashionistas, she has high standards for her daily apparel: Items must be trendy, affordable and modest. A tall order in today’s fashion industry.
But rather than sit back and peruse endless retailers for clothes that fit her aesthetic, Mulhearn decided to create exactly what she envisioned. She explains, “I’m passionate about the importance of dressing modestly. But as I got older, I found that modest, fashionable clothing were few and far between. Thus, Winsome Sash was born. Our business strives to provide clothing that is classy and fun, yet affordable for ladies building a wardrobe on a budget.”
The boutique, which boasts a solid social media following and regularly sells out of popular items, caters exclusively to women with an assortment of flattering dresses, cozy sweaters and tunics, and adorable booties. But as a boutique, Mulhearn is constantly working to keep her store stocked with quality, affordable items her base will love. And that requires plenty of work—and small-business friendly tools—to keep her on track.
“I’m wired as a free-spirited people person, which makes selling so easy for me. I know how to meet the needs of others because I can read them and work with them. Bookkeeping, however, is a struggle for me because it’s certainly not the most captivating, or enjoyable, part of my job. Vend has been a lifesaver for inventory and sales tracking. I also use Shopify for my website. Facebook and Instagram are useful tools for marketing and advertisements,” she says.
Of course, the litany of bookkeeping and admin tasks involved in running an e-commerce business is just one hurdle. Mulhearn is an entrepreneur facing many of the same struggles as her peers: figuring out how to lead, learning the power of saying no and finding the right mix of passion and pragmatism. On managing employees and dealing with customers, she says, “I try to lead by example. As the owner, my attitude toward employees and customers speaks volumes about my business and brand. I believe I will see greater success for my business if I show how passionate I am about what I do.”
When it comes to managing her time, Mulhearn became an expert at a young age: “Taking on a new business at 21 years old was overwhelming, to say the least! I’ve learned to say no. Being overwhelmed will stop you in your tracks and you’ll end up not giving your 100% best effort. This can make you and your brand look worse in the long run, all while stressing yourself out.”
And as to her advice for other entrepreneurs? Don’t rely on passion alone. Mulhearn explains, “I’d advise to research the framework behind a successful business—the flame of passion an owner has for his/her business is the fun part. No one has to make them do the part they enjoy doing.”