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Biz Talk w/ Jo: How to open your own store?

Biz Talk w/ Jo: How to open your own store?

Q: How did you start @UniKoncept? Like where does one even begin? 

A: I look at business as a snowball. Every little action that you take to make it a reality add's to the snowball to make it grow bigger and bigger. You're essentially going around and gathering information, researching, and checking things off the list to contribute to the snowball! The point is, just start! 

I've shared my story before on how I got started, but I'll do a brief recap: After getting laid off from Target Canada HQ in 2016, I moved to KW. Soon after I realized that there wasn't many options in terms of trendy women's shops at the time. I was on a hunt for super UNIQUE pieces, but I also wanted them to be affordable while remaining an investment item that could transition into many seasons. 
Now where to START, you ask?!
Well, put pen to paper.
Write down YOUR WHY?! I think we have this idea that "playing store" is so fun. You probably grew up playing it as a kid. But it's not all fun and games when it's real $, with real people depending on you.
If you're committed to doing it and you're passionate about what you're selling then it won't feel like work. I opened UniKoncept within 6 months from the date that I said I'm going to do it, to the day I welcomed the first customer. You have to live, eat, and breatheeeee your business! *MANIFEST 24/7*

Steps: 

1) I started with a small space about 750 sq ft, & a short term lease. Once you find the space, it's easy to envision everything else. -- this involved designing it, applying for a permit, sourcing materials, & getting a general contractor to do the store fit up. 

-- while all of that was in the works--...

2) I was going to trade shows and carefully examining all of the brands in my closet/beauty cabinet to find exactly what I wanted to carry. This includes local shows as well as international.  (hot tip: check which retailers in the area are selling certain brands so that you don't overlap. Bring something fresh!)
Side note: I'm attending one of my favourite shows this August to find new brands... I'll take you along virtually. ;) 

-- now that you have an idea of the brands, it allows you to create an approximate buying budget-- 

3) Work out your finances. How much $ do you have to put in, how much do you need to borrow/ line of credit?! APPLY FOR GRANTS!! There is TONS of free money out there. I am very passionate about this one. It does involve gathering information and putting in the work.. but DO IT. 

Ok so now you have a space, you have inventory, time for a NAME! 
Get the name registered online and decide if you want a Sole Proprietorship or if you'd like to Incorporate. A great resource: starting a business in Ontario
(tip: make sure that the name is available in website & social media formats before committing to it.)

The #1 thing that I was sure of is that the in-store experience was a crucial aspect to my business model. This is something that will never change.
However, this day in age, having an online shop is also important so I went with Shopify's platform to manage both In-Store & E-Commerce inventory.

I'll leave you with this, you'll learn more about business from running a lemonade stand than you will going to school for it. 
So don't panic if you don't have a business education, just start building your snowball and watch it grow! 

I hope this helps!!

xo Jo

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