Mother-daughter team finds success in clothing store - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

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Mother-daughter team finds success in clothing store

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Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 4:00 pm

Jeans line one entire wall. Mirrored on the opposite side are necklaces, earrings, bracelets and other accessories. T-shirts, light sweaters, dresses - everything from basic tees to trendy tops surrounds the well-lit boutique in Chandler.

While store after store seems to be closing, this boutique's outlook is different. KatyBug Faye Boutique and Trunk Show is doing so well after one year that the owner is considering opening another location.

"We're in the black," said owner Lisa Looney. "It's amazing. All you hear in the news is that another store is closing, but we're turning a profit ... People told us we were crazy to open in the recession."

Looney didn't intend to open a retail store. She was a stay-at-home mom of two for years, formerly an accountant with a corporate tax background, and she hadn't planned on re-entering the workforce.

"The kids were getting older, but I never expected to work full-time," Looney said. "I never expected to go back to work."

Her foray into the world of fashion started a few years ago when she and her daughter, Katy, (yes, that Katy) started selling handmade, rhinestone-bedazzled flip-flop sandals to friends and family.

It started as a simple lesson about business and entrepreneurship for her daughter, now 13.

"I knew that we were going to do this right," Looney said about starting the business.

So she acquired all of the licenses that any other business would need and the two began their business. The name of the store is a play on a childhood nickname, KatyBug, and Katy's full name, Kathleen Faye.

Soon, the two were selling other articles of clothing, such as jeans and T-shirts, along with their flip-flops. They purchased a pink trailer and took their wares to parties hosted by family and friends. Not long after, those parties were hosted by friends of friends in a model similar to "Tupperware parties," Looney said.

"I was known as the ‘Pink Trailer Lady,'" Looney said with a laugh. "We literally outgrew the back of my car."

Last year, the family made the decision to open a physical store, moving past their trunk-show beginnings.

KatyBug Faye Boutique opened at 4970 S. Gilbert Road in Chandler on Nov. 26, 2010, calling the day after Thanksgiving, "Pink Friday."

What helped with the opening and the first year was the following already developed, Looney said.

"Risk factors were gradual for me," Looney said. "It would have been much more difficult to open a boutique right away."

The online store started early spring of this year, allowing customers from all over the country to purchase KatyBug Faye fashions. They offer their own line of merchandise, along with acquired favorites and creations from local clothiers.

While it's a new venture, Looney said it's doing well.

As it gains traction online, Looney hopes the sales will help fund the opening of another store location.

"The online store would act as a cushion for another store," Looney said. "We don't want to risk losing this store."

Part of what makes this boutique different from many others is the price range for its clothing, Looney said.

"People come into the store and expect prices to be sky high," Looney said. But most of the time they are pleasantly surprised and become repeat customers, she said.

While most boutiques work on a high markup price, slow merchandise turnover principle, KatyBug Faye has a low markup and quick turnover, Looney said.

The store is always getting in new things and customers often come to shop every week.

"A department store will order 500 of the same shirt, but we only buy two of each size available in the colors that we like," Looney said.

New merchandise is added to the store every Tuesday and each week there is a new weeklong sale.

"You're never paying full price on everything all the time," Looney said.

This week's offer is a 20 percent discount on everything in the store, including everything online.

"We can put together a full outfit for under $100," Looney said.

And while the store is trendy, it's also generation-spanning.

What started out as a mom and teen shopping experience still is. The majority of the customers are mothers shopping with their teenage daughters and that means the clothes are meant for every woman, Looney said.

"Really, you could be in your 60s and shop here," Looney said.

To check out the online store, visit www.katybugfaye.com.

Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or sspring@evtrib.com

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