I sat down with local beauty, dream chaser, and Shop September shop owner, Laura Petter to hear about her career, ambitions, and words of advice to her 22-year-old self. Read the exclusive interview and enter to win a $50 gift card to Shop September below!
Full Name: Laura Curler Petter
Educational Background: BA Tulane University, Masters Program at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
1. How did you initially become interested in opening your own boutique?
I’ve always loved fashion, but it took me a while to realize that fashion could actually be my career. After finishing school with a BA in History at Tulane I decided to switch tracks and headed out to LA to attend FIDM. After some great work experience following graduation I knew I wanted to bring my own spin to retail and ShopSeptember.com was born!
2. Has fashion always been an important aspect of your life and at what point did your love for fashion begin?
I think I loved fashion from day one! I was obsessed with dressing my dolls perfectly when I was little, and my family had a huge costume closet that I basically lived in. I always enjoyed pushing the envelope with my clothing choices and always liked to be noticed for what I was wearing.
3. We can imagine buying for a boutique is like going on one epic shopping spree! How do you choose what products and brands to showcase in your boutique?
Do you want the fun side or the not so fun side first?! Haha…okay the not so fun part of buying is that it is much more of a numbers game than people think. Buyers create something called an Open to Buy, which basically sets your budget for monthly and seasonal purchasing for the store. I then take a look at what categories (ie tops, bottoms, accessories, etc.) and sizes sold the best at the same time last year before deciding on the number of vendors I’ll buy and which lines I want to invest in more. There is a lot of analyzing and number crunching that goes into each and every purchase!
But the fun side is finding new labels and going to markets. I head out to LA about 8 times a year to make sure ShopSeptember has different lines and styles than other stores in Dallas and to make sure that I’m keeping on top of the trends. I like to keep ShopSeptember a little bit edgy and I tend to buy a little more experimentally, so I always watch the latest runway shows, read up on blogs, and pay attention to publications like WWD. But first and foremost, I follow my gut and pick lines and styles that I get excited by!
3. What do you love most about being the owner of your own business? What is the most challenging thing?
I love building connections with customers and helping my clients find new designers or experiment with new trends that I believe in. The biggest compliment I’ve ever received was from a customer who told me that we’re her favorite store and we’re also the sweetest, friendliest sales people! The most challenging thing would have to be the fact that there is nobody else to turn to or to share the blame when things go wrong!
4. Who is your biggest inspiration? Fashion, entrepreneurship, or otherwise?
Fashion wise, I’m inspired by a lot of the bigger fashion houses like Emilio Pucci, Burberry, and Saint Laurent. I’m also inspired by success stories like Sophia Amoruso from Nasty Gal. My biggest inspiration, however, is probably my dad, who has always worked hard and who lead and inspired employees and grew the company he worked for before his retirement.
5. Shop September is so on-trend! What is your favorite trend in store right now?
Right now I’m kind of obsessed with the sporty influence we’re seeing in RTW. I love the idea of an easy oversized jersey worn as a dress with gladiator sandals now and amazing boots this fall. I’m also super into co-ords (aka a matching bottom and top)!
6. If you could give one tip to young women with the desire to one day open their own boutique what would it be?
My tip would be to never think that any job in retail or fashion is beneath you and to start getting your feet wet now! I’ve had lots of jobs in the fashion industry from the retail floor to the showroom to the buying office and have learned valuable lessons from every experience.
7. Words of Advice to your 21-year-old self?
Don’t think that you need to have it all figured out at once!
8.Personal Motto or words to live by?
Even if things seems scary or intimidating, you should follow your dreams. Otherwise, you’ll always be left asking, ”what if? ”
Enter to win a $50 gift card to Shop September and meet Laura yourself at the link below