After a year or so of designing one-of-a-kind pieces, I felt like I needed to do more. I started playing around with the idea of an online boutique, featuring trendy already made styles that I could handpick to sell at affordable prices. Fun NJB Fact: this is where our Trendy & Affordable Fashion slogan came in.
Launching My Website
I obviously loved fashion, and overtime I developed a love for styling others. I had made several great connections while in NYC, and I knew I could figure it out. So, I decided to go for it. I placed my first order of inventory and launched my website on Sep 8th, 2011, which was also Ellie’s first birthday.
I got a few sales as soon as the site launched, and I was so excited! I don’t remember really ever being nervous. I remember being determined. Determined to figure it out, how to run a business, be a mom, and work hard.
Hustling All Day, Every Day
Over the next year I promoted like crazy. I had racks of clothes set up in my house. And I would post to social media the same way I do now, sharing styling ideas, trends, and of course, any new arrivals.
I had my cousin Jaclyn model new inventory when it came in. We would take pictures in the backyard! Meanwhile I set up my “boutique” in my living room and invited customers to my house to shop. This arrangement enabled me to be home with Ellie every single day. It was very difficult to be a stay at home mom and try to run a business all at once. But I loved (and still do) spending as much time as I could with her.
Traveling Boutique: “Nicole J Parties”
On weekends or weeknights, I would travel to other peoples homes and do “Nicole J Parties.” I would bring what inventory I had at the time and pop-up right in their homes.
Over the next year or so, I did a TON of these! I would do pop-ups in local businesses and participated in any events I could be apart of. People were reaching out to me about hosting their own parties, and word-of-mouth was spreading. I was featured several times in Spark Magazine, and I LOVED doing photoshoots with them.
Being Voted Best of Delaware Gave Me the Push…
In April 2013, while still an online boutique, I was voted Best of DE. That same month, I participated in an event held on Middletown Main St. The event had a great turnout, and I sold almost all the inventory I had at that time. I had people from all over Delaware come out to shop Nicole J. At this point, I knew I could make it work. It was time to start looking for a storefront.
To Launch My Brick-and-Mortar Location
Middletown has always been my home, and I knew that’s where I wanted my business to start. We found my first location and opened in June 2013, less than a year after launching the website. THIS is when the nerves set in. Could I REALLY do this? Could I run a business and be a mom at the same time? Could I sell enough to pay rent? It was scary, very scary… but like I said before, I was determined. The fear turned into excitement, and I announced that I was opening my own boutique. When I got the keys to the store I was OVER THE moon! I felt like my “plan” was finally working out.
Working Hard and Following My Dream
Grand Opening weekend was one I will never forget. So many familiar faces, so many new faces coming to MY store, all leaving with SMILES on their faces because they loved their purchases. We had an amazing grand opening weekend, and I remember feeling like there was NOTHING left in the store! I placed a rush order of new inventory and had never been so happy to see the UPS guy when he arrived with that package! Haha!
When I opened the store I knew I still wanted to have Ellie with me. It wasn’t realistic to have her there every day. (I would never get anything done!) But we spent a lot of time together in that store. I was so proud to have her there with me. I loved that she could be with me “working” and that she saw me working hard and following my dream.
During this time, I was still doing home parties, but it was much easier to do in-store parties. That way I didn’t have to pack up inventory, and everyone could just come to the store! These parties were the best way to meet new people, and I truly believe they were a huge part of making my boutique a success. I wasn’t afraid to meet new people and to talk about my business. I was ready and willing to do whatever it took!
Buckling Up for an Emotional Roller Coaster
Over the next few months I worked so hard, my business was doing great, my personal life not so much. I was starting to realize the relationship I was in, was not one I wanted to be in anymore. I never talked about it, my friends and even my family didn’t know how I was feeling. I couldn’t let Ellie down, but I knew I wasn’t happy. I knew she deserved a happy mom and a happy life. During this emotional roller coaster that I was experiencing, I found out I was pregnant with Jace, My Prince Charming.
See you Next week for Mama Monday Part 4: Jace Robert, My Prince Charming… or should I call it “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”
Watch the Mama Monday Part 4 Video here!
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