photo: omaha world-herald
Over the last several years, our retail scene is experiencing a boutique boom, and these dynamic, millennial women entrepreneurs are making their mark.
As traditional shopping malls and big-name retailers close their doors, these fempreneurs are bringing “relationship shopping” back to Omaha, flinging their doors wide open for business. Using social media to attract new customers, they’re posting and sharing their inspiring products and fashion lines – and creating exciting experiential shopping.
Sarah Backhaus, 37, is the savvy owner and manager of the minimalist chic lifestyle store, Haus Shop, which honors her last name. Sarah always wanted her own boutique and started by offering items she loved. Her carefully curated and constantly evolving collection ranges from local and international home accessories to personal care products to gifts to designer shoes unique in Omaha—all in soft natural tones. Sarah uses social media sites like Instagram to connect with her customers. Her focus is “creating an experience you can’t get with traditional shopping.”
Kathleen Connor, 29, is the creative owner and curator of Among Other Things, a unique consignment shop featuring locally made artwork and home accessories, antique and vintage furniture, and Kathleen’s own custom pillows and lampshades. After working in high-end residential interior design firms in New York City, she dreamed of having complete creative freedom. Kathleen decided to return home to Omaha and open her own store. And the name? “I heard it on the radio as a lead in to a story…’among other things…’ and it seemed to encompass just what I wanted for my store.”
Monica Freeborn, 30, who owns and operates Amethyst Home, puts style, selection and outstanding personalized customer service at the forefront of her retail game plan. Monica focuses on curating a collection of handmade, natural fibers and organic materials with an emphasis on healthy living—the ultimate luxury in home decor. She chose Amethyst for her store’s name because of the mineral’s natural beauty. Using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, she is racking up followers and buyers online and in her store. Monica’s success tip: “Do what you love and hope other people like it, too!”
Sarah Spooner, 30, owner and visionary leader of Four Sisters Boutique, caters to women who appreciate unique, top quality clothing and accessories to complete their look for any occasion. Sarah was inspired by the legacy of her great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ retail successes to launch her own store. The name Four Sisters Boutique pays homage to her late grandmother Frances, the fashionista, one of four sisters known as “the beautiful Osoff girls.” With her attention to detail, tracking trends, building customer relationships, and creating a unique, experiential shopping experience, Sarah has grown her business to 12 employees, nearly 50k Instagram followers and booming online sales. According to Sarah, “Your life is your store, so make sure it’s your passion.”
Valerie Vander Linden, 23, is the vivacious owner and manager of Bliss Boutique. Valerie and her parents bought the boutique from the previous owners, kept the name, and built on its success. Valerie’s goal is to continue building relationships with the store’s existing customers, while attracting new shoppers through Facebook Live and monthly after-store-hour Private Party shopping events. Fulfilling her customers’ needs and wants by providing comfortable, affordable, on-trend clothing that will make every woman feel her best is why Valerie always wanted to own a small business. She focuses on personalized customer experiential shopping: “I know the names, sizes, likes and styles of all my loyal customers,” Valerie says with pride.
About The Author
Julia A. Kragh is an Omaha-based freelance writer, editor, photographer, educator and citizen of the world. She has lived, worked and traveled in 43 countries—and counting. Julia is a member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA). Currently, she is focusing her energy and talents on rediscovering her amazing hometown of Omaha, NE, and sharing her discoveries with the world!
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