By Jennifer McDaniel for the Lincoln Sentinel
Carly Errebo remembers receiving the phone call that would forever change the way she looked at her business.
For more than three decades, Errebo nurtured her venture, Seirer’s Clothing, in downtown Lincoln. The shop, which prides itself on offering customers what she describes as unique, fashion-forward clothing, caught the attention of a burgeoning online business nearly 1,400 miles away.
Like Seirer’s, the up-and-coming website offers fashion-conscious customers stylish items they can’t find anywhere else.
Tucked away in its offices in SoHo, a trendy neighborhood in Lower Manhattan in New York City, the business, Shoptiques, serves as the premiere online destination connecting discerning fashionistas with chic boutiques worldwide. And now, it wanted to highlight Seirer’s Clothing – only one of 13 Kansas shops featured on the website.
“I received a call from a lady,” Errebo said. “At first, I thought it was a scam. In business, you get calls all the time from people. I thought it was too good to be true.”
But as the conversation continued, Errebo learned her business was on the website’s radar and would be vetted by staff to determine whether it made the cut. Businesses are hand-picked by Shoptiques founder, Olga Vidisheva, Errebo said, and only a few are selected. More than 80 percent of the stores that are nominated and apply are rejected.
To be chosen, business owners must meet certain criteria. Boutiques must not only offer a one-of-a-kind selection, but put their customers first. Other requirements include offering quality clothing for the price and a charming bricks-and-mortar location.
Founded in 2012, Vidisheva started with just 25 boutiques. Today, the company now features 5,000 boutiques in 2,000 cities and 30 countries, Errebo said. The company has grown from just $300,000 in revenue in 2013 to approximately $3 million last year. This year, the company is on track to earn $20 million.
After speaking with the woman, Errebo said she talked to her youngest daughter, Shelby, who majored in marketing at Wichita State University, and asked for her advice. Errebo said she soon learned the business was legit, and that it was an honor to be contacted.
One of the benefits of joining Shoptiques, Errebo said, is it gives small retailers like herself an online sales platform, allowing her to reach a much larger audience. The company also offers retailers assistance with website development, inventory management and email marketing. In exchange, the company takes a cut of the sales, and charges retailers a joining fee that covers expenses like photography, credit card processing, packaging and shipping.
That’s a big plus, Errebo said, because it takes the hassle out of developing a website on her own. Seirer’s current website only introduces customers to the business, but doesn’t offer an avenue for purchasing merchandise. With Shoptiques help, she soon hopes to change that.
Once accepted, Errebo began working to upload clothing to the website. Even though her business was not formally live, she soon began making sales. The first came while she attended Shelby’s graduation ceremony at Wichita State University in mid-May. Errebo received a text message, informing her she had her first sale. That order went to Illinois. Since then, she’s had customers from across the country, including Ohio and New York.
“Other people from other states are shopping Seirer’s Clothing,” she said. “And they (Shoptiques staff) were really impressed.”
Errebo formally announced her partnership with Shoptiques earlier this month on Seirer’s Facebook and Instagram pages. With only a few weeks down, Errebo said she’s still expanding her product line. She admits it’s been challenging learning the ins and outs of the business, such as which pieces to choose and if they will photograph well.
“If I want to stay in business, I have to diversify,” she said. “I can still stay here in Lincoln and offer our customers great clothing, but I can also reach out.”
Trendy clothing found online, Errebo said, can be found in her store, adding Shoptiques purchases can be picked up in the Lincoln location for free. The business ships items in bright pink packaging.
“It’s just a great opportunity,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity for my store. Anymore, you have to diversify, or you’re extinct. We’re still a mom-and-pop store. We’re a very family-oriented business.”
To visit Seirer’s Clothing on the Shoptiques website go to www.shoptiques.com/boutiques/seirers-cloth.