Hi, I’m Michelle Wilson with the TriVillage Chamber Partnership and this is our Business Inspires podcast. And today we have Amber Wilson with us from Fabtique. Fabtique won our big membership drive contest this year. So we typically start Business Inspires out with when you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Amber: So that probably depended on what day you ask me. I went through a lot of different phases of being a brain surgeon and I wanted to be a storm chaser. I’m a big weather enthusiastic. And then it went into radio promotions which is what I did through college. But the one thing that I knew that I wanted to do was I wanted to get into something from the ground level and work my way up. I thought through college that that was going to be in radio music promotions. And then I also worked at Macy’s part-time. And who knew that that was going to be the path that would lead me.
Michelle: Is Fabtique your first ground level up venture?
Amber: Yes, this is first one and so far so good. It’s been a year and a half now. We’re having fun. I worked in Upper Arlington at the White House Black Market. I started working there and continued my journey through the management. And then I took a step back and came back to Columbus and contacted Pat Barker, who’s currently my business partner. She was looking for a passion project. She found this store in Cleveland didn’t think Columbus had anything that was quite like it and asked if I would move back to Columbus. I have retail experience as a store manager at White House, and she’s had a lot of retail experience. We had no idea of what it would take to run a business. We literally sat down with a piece of paper. We’d done a little research, and we sat down with that piece of paper. What are our bills going to be? I wish I’d kept this piece of paper! It literally listed lease, utilities, an estimated payroll, how many hours we would be open, how many managers did we need and just trying to pool any information that we had from our previous jobs. Then it turned into a spreadsheet. And everything just started falling into place. So it seemed so natural. It’s uncanny how our responsibilities fell into place. I took care of this and she took care of that.
Michelle: How nice it was so natural for both of you to make that work and not have a struggle.
Amber: I’m someone who has a lot of faith. When I left my full-time job to start a new experience, it was stepping out. And since then I’ve learned you go with your gut instinct and whether you call it fate or intuition, you go for it. We just sat down and decided to see where this takes us. It kept taking us to these great places of meeting someone to help us with the financial report, and meeting with someone who could help us with a graphic design, and meeting someone who was an architect, and someone who’s a photographer that can help us out. When you’re starting out there’s a lot of the things you have to do. And it’s expensive. You really know what you’re getting into. You have no idea what’s everything’s going to cost. The other big thing is not being afraid to go into it. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for fear of being laughed at. Most people are very willing to help.
Michelle: When I was preparing for this podcast I was looking at your Website under the About section. I love your profiles. You referred to fashion as being like music or jazz. I think that’s just such a cool analogy of how you how you view fashion.
Amber: Well I don’t think any of us are just like one person all the time. One thing I’ve learned is I had a lot of different styles. I had my style from the shop that I like, and I had my vibe this day, and some days I wanted to be a little edgy be a rocker chick, and then I want to be proper and wear my plaid or my lily. And somedays I wanted to be super casual and a little funky. And that is what I like about fashion. We wanted to embody that in our store. Pat and I have two different styles and we can pick them for our customers.
Michelle: I love that you that you took in different types of personalities and styles, rather than really just having a niche that’s very limiting to who your customer is. And I’ve noticed when I’ve been in there, there are some brands that I confess, I know nothing about. But I love it. And it expands my horizons a little bit. But you also have some local things in there. You have some local artistry and jewelry and glassware. So can you talk about that for just a minute?
Amber: That’s one of the huge pluses of owning your own store. You get to decide what you want to buy. It’s not someone sending it down. We go to the trade shows and we look at boutique brands. We wanted to get a lot of brands that you cannot find in Columbus. Some of it’s because they don’t want too many shops selling the same thing, which is great because it forces us to find some new stuff that we like. But we can also have local artists and designers in our store. You can’t do that on the grand scheme levels. What we put it in our shop and you see in Fabtique is going to be what our neighborhood and our customers like, what they want to buy. And they love it. Shopping small local foods and local businesses have made this a huge surge in the past few years. So it’s great to have this in our community. We’re not just here to sell all these clothes from these named brands of people who make billions of dollars and go to Paris in New York and design clothes, but we want people here in Columbus. And Columbus has such a great pool of designers and artists.
Michelle: I think what’s great about our neighborhood is we have this great mix of individual boutiques and restaurants that are independently owned. We’re all finding that passion that there’s a surge for shopping local and supporting small business and supporting local artists and restaurants and retailers. So it’s exciting that you’re part of that mix.
Amber: And the feedback’s been great. We feel we have a connection with our customers. Let’s say we hear three or four people looking for white dresses. We may not have this coming but we will soon, and we’ll stay in touch with them. We just want to be the best part of the community. Of course, this is a business we need to make money and pay our bills. Sure. But there’s so much more. It’s being in the community. We have our village of our associates and our customers and the community.
Michelle: Surely there are some challenges along the way. What keeps you moving forward when you when you face those challenges?
Amber: Obviously you’re going to have challenges in anything you do. And when you go through them, it makes it worthwhile. I think you cannot be afraid of failure. I listen to other people that own businesses and have companies and motivational speakers. I was a cheerleader back in the day, so I naturally have a positive attitude. I have a lot of faith. So I believe that when every challenge comes along, you just look at it, and figure out what needs to be accomplished. And you just kind of talk yourself through and figure it out. This is when it goes back to asking help from people, and not being afraid to say hey this isn’t my strong suit.
Michelle: You’ve put together Fabtique almost like a personal shopping experience because of boutique-ness.
Amber: It can be very intimidating shopping in a clothing store especially when you hear the word boutique. You think people are judging you. What if I pick out something in there that I’ll never look good in or people will judge me when I wear it. So we want to welcome a place where women come in and can inspire their style.
We can find out what makes you feel good. One day it might be holy jeans and a black top, and the next day it might be a sundress. That’s great. Get both. So depending on how you feel that day, you’re inspired to wear that piece.
Michelle: I loved that you did an event that included men around the holidays, a Bourbon event. It’s a woman’s boutique. But you wanted to include the guys.
Amber: Sometimes they don’t know what to buy for sure or you know maybe their wife says “Go get me a gift card,” but we wanted to have an event to include them. Because they’re part of the fabric family too, and introduce our store to them. To do something to introduce ourselves to them. And hopefully they feel comfortable coming back, and they feel like they have a place to shop. If it’s last minute and they forgot something, they can swing by. We also have girls nights. It doesn’t even have to be in the evening. We can get a group of ladies, come in, bring your friends and come shopping. We’ll pull out some wine we’ll have some snacks. Throw in a discount and have a little shenanigans. People can come in and check the place out without feeling intimidated, and just have fun. Fashion should be fun. Friendship should be fun. Business should be fun. Everything is fab.