BP claims by day, fashion guru by night. Coffee, sleep, repeat. 23-year-old Jami Carter is no stranger to this routine. During business hours, you can find her working as an accounting assistant at Cunningham Bounds. Her work day, however, begins and ends far beyond nine to five.
Rewind one year ago to Carter's senior year at the University of Mobile. Despite the stress of work, school and a quickly-approaching graduation date, Carter got the wild idea to open her own business, an online clothing boutique. With hard work, a savvy business plan and an unwavering knack for style, Carter set Lace Boutique in motion.
Now, with the shop's one-year anniversary just around the corner, she reflects on her first year of business ownership and offers a little advice on what she does best.
WHAT'S AN AVERAGE DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my email. Most of the time, I've gotten orders overnight. It's cool to wake up and see that someone from California or New York has ordered something from the boutique. If I need to, I'll package and ship the orders that morning on the way to work. On lunch, I'll call brands back to handle payments and stock questions, go to the bank to make deposits, ship more orders or look up clothes online and place orders for new inventory. After work, I usually go straight from the office to the Lace office to package orders or open the new shipments that have come in that day. On a good day, I'll take inventory, price it, tag it, steam it and take pictures of the items for the website. Later, I edit the photos and upload them online.
DO YOU EVER GET A CHANCE TO SLEEP?
I find time. I'm very good at multi-tasking.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION FOR OPENING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
I've always wanted to have my own boutique. I thought about it all throughout high school. Even on my senior page in the yearbook, my plans for after graduation were to attend the University of Mobile, major in business (in hopes of owning my own boutique), get married and have two or three kids. So far, I’m halfway there.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO OPERATE ONLINE-ONLY?
It was just way easier to achieve right now since the overhead was so much less. Throughout this whole process, I never wanted someone to have to pay anything for me. I'm really independent, and I didn't want to ask my parents to help me financially. Having this business, all of the responsibility is on me. It's stressful at times, but it's up to me to make decisions and make things happen. I have to make it successful. But my parents have been really supportive and helped me along the way. I have an office inside my dad's office, which is where I ship everything from.
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE NAME “LACE”?
I started looking through my closet to brainstorm ideas for names, and I kept finding over and over again that almost everything I have has lace. I wrote the word down to think about it, and it really seemed to stick. Plus, I liked the name lace because the fabric itself is classic, timeless and girly – which is what I want my clothes to portray.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF CLOTHES YOU CARRY?
I try to offer a lot of different styles for a range of ages. I have long shirts you can pair with leggings on the weekend or with dress pants for work during the week. Since I work in an office, I try to find clothes that are cute but also dressy and conservative enough to wear to work or church. I also have a lot of fun clothes too, with interesting backs, bold colors and accents like sequins and rhinestones. I like pieces that stand out.
WHERE DO YOU PURCHASE INVENTORY FOR THE STORE?
I go to market in Atlanta, and I also find brands through designers' emails and websites. Some websites have thousands of designers who each have hundreds of items to choose from, so I have to sort through them all to find the clothes I really want. I try to carry items that can't be found in stores, and I also look for pieces that cover different price points.
Right now, so many of my friends are getting married so I'm looking for pieces that can be worn to showers, rehearsals and parties. One of the coolest things about my job is when someone wants to wear something from my store to one of their big events. It's exciting to see that someone has chosen to wear my clothes to their graduation or their birthday dinner or even get engaged in one of my dresses.
WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR LACE IN THE FUTURE?
I would love to open a storefront one day, of course. I would definitely keep the website too. One reason I started Lace is because I have friends from other parts of the country who complain that they don't have a local place to buy trendy clothes for affordable prices. With the website, anyone in the United States can order, so you're not limited by distance or store hours.
About the Owner
Favorite clothing designer
I love Jessica Simpson's shoes and Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port's lines. I like that their clothes are fun and girly, but also classy and practical for any age.
Favorite trend right now
Peplum. It is such a flattering silhouette; it looks good on everyone. The skirt makes girls who are really little look like they have curves and girls with a curvier figure look slimmer.
Favorite colors and palettes
Mustard, mint and periwinkle. Also, citrus shades. They are going to be really big this summer.
Watching TV on Hulu and coffee mugs. It’s getting bad. My parents joke that they won’t let me in if I bring another coffee mug in the house. I think I've already passed that by about 10.
Go-to piece of clothing you can't live without
Leggings. I could wear them every single day. I hate wearing pants. Right now, I love leather leggings.
Best fashion tip
A lot of girls think that they can’t wear a certain color that's “in.” Anyone can wear anything for the most part; you just have to wear it your way. Maybe you don't think you can pull off a mustard dress. But even if that color doesn't look great on your skin tone, try it out on a fun pair of heels or a bright mustard clutch. You don't have to limit yourself. Oh, and have fun with your clothes!
Lace Boutique • firstname.lastname@example.org
Clothes, shoes and accessories
Price Range – $30s – $40s average