Having retail experience in a rural community is nothing new to entrepreneur Julie Fischbach. In rural America, entrepreneurship can be a challenging endeavor, especially for women. She runs two boutiques, both located in Aberdeen, South Dakota, which offer a unique shopping experience that draws customers from all around the area. But Julie’s journey to success was not a simple one and is a story that serves as an inspiration to many.
As a college student, Julie’s dream was to own her own business. While working with retail stores in the area mall to help support her while taking classes, Julie led sales teams to success in the retail industry. After the birth of her twin daughters, Julie, like many mothers, felt the need to step back from her busy schedule and spend more time with her girls. This led Julie to work part-time as a banker and then challenge herself to the life of a pharmaceutical rep. But she still felt unfulfilled.
Julie had always dreamt of owning her own boutique, and after almost two decades of working and saving, her dream finally came true when she got the opportunity to open a women's boutique in Aberdeen. Julie took a leap of faith and opened Mainstream, embracing the challenges that came with it like ordering, steaming, pricing, merchandising, bill paying, and more, with excitement and eagerness to tackle them head-on.
What set Julie apart from other area boutiques and businesses was her loyalty to her customers. Because of its central location to many other small towns, shoppers from the surrounding communities choose Aberdeen to do the majority of their shopping, but there was a bigger need to offer her retail items online. By diversifying her marketing strategy, Julie created an app providing these rural customers with an easier way to shop. Clothing on the app is featured with live videos that are recorded by Julie and her employees, showcasing new items. Through this app, Julie was able to reach customers outside of her local community and expand her customer base. “Many owners don’t realize that to build an audience and a steady stream of sales, you need to be the face of the business too,” said Julie.
In today's ever-evolving landscape of social media marketing and technology, Julie's key to success was to identify the platforms that align best with her business objectives. To keep up with the rapidly changing trends, she hired a team of young, tech-savvy individuals who were passionate about managing multiple social media channels. This approach proved to be a game-changer for her retail business during the challenging times of COVID-19, and it continues to drive growth for her enterprise even today.
As the online presence grew, so did the recommendations for other lines of clothing in the area. Many people reached out to Julie asking for clothing and accessories for babies and children. Thanks to her previous experience within the women’s boutique industry, she was able to open Trendy Littles, an exclusively online children’s boutique, where she worked with wholesalers to design all of the clothing. Two years later, Julie was ready to pass the successful business on and sold Trendy Littles to one of her full-time employees which has continued to be a success today.
Later, it was also identified that there was a need to provide a selection of men's clothing that matched the style and quality of her women's collection. This inspired Julie to explore the idea of opening a men's store, and after eight years of brainstorming and planning, she finally found the perfect location on Main Street. It was the ideal place to launch her men's boutique and website, Finery on Main.
In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Julie is also an advocate for rural development and supports other local businesses in the area. She believes that by working together, rural communities can create a brighter future for everyone. Her story is a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of rural entrepreneurs, and a reminder that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
Overall, Julie’s experience shows that it’s possible for female entrepreneurs in rural America to adapt to changes in technology and thrive in today’s marketplace. By embracing new tools and technology, Julie has been able to grow her business and reach new customers, all while staying true to her passion.