159: Krista Boyer: Retail For The People: Stories Of Perseverance From A Seasoned Entrepreneur Reinventing Local Businesses For The Better
The specialty retail industry is going through challenging times now with COVID-19 going on, but the principles of success in the industry remain the same. Retail strategist Krista Boyer teaches these principles to business owners through Retail for the People. Having been through the ups and downs of physical store retail herself, Krista knows the struggles and challenges of retail owners and has accumulated a host of ingenious strategies that center around recreating the retail experience for the client. She aims to serve 10,000 local retail businesses and is excited to lead them through the massive shift the industry is experiencing. In this conversation with Thane Marcus Ringler, they talk about a lot of topics, including how to listen well to others, leading with kindness, her childhood entrepreneurial endeavors, her time spent as a ballerina, her path to retail, what she learned from her different roles along the way, the current state of retail, and future goals. The most important takeaways from this interview are from her powerful stories, so make sure to listen close!
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Krista Boyer: Retail For The People: Stories Of Perseverance From A Seasoned Entrepreneur Reinventing Local Businesses For The Better
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That gets us to the interview. This is an interview with Krista Boyer. Krista Boyer is a retail entrepreneur, consultant and coach. She is the Founder, President and Chief Retail Strategist for Retail for the People, a retail firm she started in LA and is now based in Jacksonville, Florida. Her passion lies in equipping retailers, both individuals and businesses, with the tools to succeed in brick and mortar retail. She simplifies the process and helps them identify their corporate brand strategy, store design, retail operations standards, team training, as well as identify the reason to make their customers loyal and return. She founded Retail for the People in 2016 with a focus on reinventing the physical retail experience, specifically through pop-up shops and team coaching that is centered on both operations and the in-store experience. Her work has been featured in Fast Company and WWD.
She serves as a Retail Consultant for the Economic Development Collaborative in Southern California and loves equipping and coaching specialty retail stores, spas and boutiques. Krista also serves as a mentor and judge for the New York City-based YMA fashion scholarship fund. She was a speaker that 2019 ReMode Conference in LA discussing the topic of retail and how to rehumanize brick and mortar through pop-up and team training. She has a huge heart for boutique retail and specifically loves working with the store owners and store managers. While most of the retail industry is moving online, Krista and her team strategically serve retailers through personalized coaching and training for store owners and managers so they can have the tools, strategy, and community support to succeed in the digital age.
She believes the future of retail hinges on people and she aims to serve 10,000 local retail businesses in the coming years and is very excited to be a leader in the shift the industry is experiencing. She is a gem of a person and I enjoyed this interview. We covered a lot of topics, including how to listen well to others, leading with kindness, and her childhood entrepreneurial endeavors. Also, her time spent as a ballerina, her path to retail, what she learned from her different roles along the way, the current state of retail and future goals she has. As well as some of her lowest moments, what she’s most proud of and so much more. It was a fascinating conversation hearing a lot of her background, her stories from her life. I know that you’re going to relate to a lot of what she has to say. She was vulnerable and opened up about some beautiful things. Enjoy this interview with Krista Boyer.
Thank you, Thane. I love being here.
Tando Ādam One of the things that I appreciate about you and many that we’re going to get to is your ability to connect people. I want to thank you even on connecting me with Houston Kraft back in the day. That was a fun experience we shared together, getting to go hear him speak as a gifted speaker, but you are a very gifted connector.
Thank you. I appreciate that. That goes a lot with what I love to do being a retailer in specialty store spaces as an owner.
Talk to me about how you describe the work that you’re doing when you talk to other people or when you have conversations with people you meet. How do you go about describing your work?
I call myself a retail strategist. I’ve been obsessed with retail for more than seventeen years now. My journey wasn’t exactly quick, it didn’t start yesterday kind of thing. I love specialty retail, specifically a boutique store, a smaller localized business. It could be a vacation community or it could be a resort community, or it could be the boutique down the street from where you live. There is something wonderful when people put their dreams in place and curate a beautiful assortment of goods. The idea is you come in and you get to learn something new about yourself or about the world or about society at large. You also get to participate in an economic flourishing in a way through the selling of these goods and employing different people. I like to say that I’m a retail coach, retail strategist. We help specialty retail stores thrive. We simplify it. It’s complicated and I love being there to help them and to coach them. I love beautiful spaces and beautiful stores. I’m driven by having a good experience that’s exciting, safe, wonderful and magical.
We’re going to dive into all things retail I’m sure. Before we get there, one of the things that a reference ended up mentioning in a background call was a character trait that I wanted to hear about first. It ties in, in the sense, that your experiences in retail may be a part of how you’ve developed this characteristic. This friend said that she never judges anybody, which is what I love so much. She’s always saying, “Let’s hear what the other side has to say.” She’s very good at listening and doesn’t jump to conclusions and gives people a second chance. I bring this up because even if we look at our context in society in the world, these are character traits that I believe we would do so well by embodying and embracing more. I’m curious to hear from you how you’ve developed an ability to at least give the appearance of not judging others, whether or not that may be true. Who knows? This is hearsay, but I want to hear what your perspective is on hearing that and how you cultivate an ability to listen to people that they are without judgment.
It’s sweet. Whoever said that, I appreciate that. It means a lot. I’ve been in sales my whole life, my whole career working in retail, working in a store. From day one, you never know who’s coming in your door and who’s going to spend a lot of money and who’s not. You have to treat everybody with kindness, respect and empathy. You have no idea what’s happened in their life or what’s happened that day. You as the person in the store right there have that opportunity to show kindness, to listen, to say hello. Sometimes even greeting someone and saying, “Hey,” makes the biggest difference in their life in that moment. It’s years of being in stores and being around people that that’s become a natural.
I hadn’t thought much about it, in all honesty. It’s how it’s been and listening and loving hearing people’s stories. When you’re in the specialty retail space, it opens up an opportunity to communicate and to talk to people in a way that large big-box retailers like Target might not be able to do. We get to understand why someone’s coming in, what they’re hoping to find, what they’re struggling with. How could it meet their needs in a special way? We support them emotionally. We support them with products that benefit their lives, but then we also listen to them. Learning how to not judge them or, “Can they afford this product? Do they need this product?” and getting to understand people. I didn’t even realize that I did that.
It’s cool to have that even subconsciously at work. What do you think helps us with becoming good listeners? What helps with good listening?
Looking people in the eye. It’s the first step. The second step would be don’t cross your arms. When you cross your arms, it’s instant. It’s like you close the conversation. You’re like, “I’m too busy,” or “I’m too cool,” or “I don’t care enough about what you have to say.” If you uncross your arms and your eyes are making actual eye contact, you’re telling other person, “You matter to me,” and you have something valuable to say.
It’s giving other people dignity. It’s amazing how something as simple as crossing the arms, the energy that gives off, even if you don’t even consciously register it, it is felt and known or understood.
Crossing your legs too. It’s also years of working on a sales floor. It’s like an improv. You open the conversation based on your body language. Even saying hello or nodding or acknowledging someone goes a long way.
Speaking of sales calls and that environment, do you have any favorite memories of maybe times when you didn’t perform so well or it didn’t go how you hoped or maybe it was a failure that was very meaningful and what it taught you?
Most of my failures, I don’t know if I would call them failures, but honestly, it was my being very naïve and not realizing who is in the store with me in that moment. The number of celebrities that I have talked to and sold product to and had no idea who it was until after they left is absurd. You would probably roll your eyes and be shocked at it. The fact that I treated them like a normal human because that’s who they were, and I listen to them, that’s a failure, so to speak. I didn’t realize who I was talking to at the time. It was a very genuine interaction. I pay a lot of attention to the bottom line and to numbers and finances and sales. I’m never going to sell you something if I don’t think it’s going to help you. I will tell you, “You don’t need this. You don’t want this. They have something better across the street.” As far as failures go, I try not to have a lot of bad sales, a lot of bad customers, or a lot of bad experiences. Off the top of my head right now, my biggest ones would be not realizing who’s there and maybe swooning over them because they were on the store.
It speaks to another story that I heard where your fiancé or soon to be husband, when you first met, you appeared to be a celebrity. Is that correct?
He jokes about that. I don’t know why. It’s crazy but that’s what he thought.
Tell me the story. What happened?
I was coming from being in LA and I had this look. I had this leather jacket I wore all the time and jeans and a certain pair of shoes. That was my Downtown LA outfit. I was in Florida and we met very organically and ended up going to dinner. When I showed up, I was so different from anybody else in this part of Florida that he thought I was a celebrity or what. It’s a very sweet compliment and I love it. That’s what it was. I had on a leather jacket. I had a look.
You know when you see it, so that’s good. Where did your start in retail come from? What was the origin of your love for spaces and creating atmospheres that people can connect with and products that they ultimately can benefit from?
I believe it starts when I was little. I’m a lucky kid that we traveled a lot growing up. My mom loved museums, history and art. We went to the Louvre and we went to the National Gallery of Art. We went all over the country and all of the world to see Picasso’s and Monet’s and different things. Whenever you’re going to art galleries, you’re experiencing beautiful buildings and beautiful spaces. You’re experiencing the masters in a way. I was very lucky that I got to see a lot of beautiful, good art and beautiful spaces and beautiful stores. I developed a passion for fashion and magazines and I was always reading Vogue and things like that when I was younger. When I was fifteen years old, one of my best friend’s moms heard that I wanted to go to school for fashion when I graduated from high school and she said she knew a friend.
It was this woman who owned the high-end beautiful boutique selling a lot of designer goods, handbags, shoes, clothing. She was like, “Would you like to meet her and maybe talk to her and see if you can ask her a few questions? She’d been in the industry at this point for twenty years and knew the ins and outs and went to Paris to buy her products and all this stuff.” The fifteen-year-old in me was so excited and said, “Yes, of course. Please.” I couldn’t drive yet. I didn’t get my permit until I was sixteen. I was a year behind and all that. My mom drove me to the boutique on a Saturday midmorning and I had my little questions. I was going to ask her a bunch of questions about fashion and retail and what did I need to study? What school should I go to? What brands do I need to watch? What are the emerging ones?
The store got surprisingly busy halfway through our little meeting. The story goes, this is what she tells everybody that I jumped in and ran to the back into the stock room and started finding shoes for people and pulling shoe sizes and helping a lady in the dressing room. When it all calmed down, she was very impressed that I took the initiative and didn’t wait for the customers to leave and started helping and started selling. She offered me a job. She said, “Do you want to come and work on Saturdays?” I started working with her on Saturdays and then I’ve been working with her on and off ever since in different capacities. It’s been a wonderful relationship. She’s been a mentor to me since that day and we’re almost like family.
That initiative that led to you taking ownership of the situation at fifteen is remarkable. That’s something that isn’t necessarily there with most. It wasn’t necessarily there with me at fifteen. Did you have siblings? Was it your parents’ upbringing? What do you see fueled that ability to take initiative even in high school?
A lot of people don’t know this, but I was homeschooled from pre-K all the way to twelfth grade. From a very early age, my mom always taught us to ask questions and to be curious. We had a very classical education where we studied Latin and logic, but we also studied Math and English and everything else. That more inquisitive way of growing up and connecting the dots and different things through her good lesson plans are what taught us. You jump in and you take action and you do something. You don’t sit around and wait.
Do you have siblings?
I do have a sister.
Older or younger?
We are 2.5 years apart.
Are you the oldest?
Did you see the same initiative in her? Was it different being the youngest versus the oldest? What do you think on that front? I know there are a lot of studies and science and thought process around being the young child or being the old child or even your placement in that, or an only child. Did you see any of that play out in your background?
I’m the oldest and I definitely like being the oldest. I’m fortunate. I probably had Sarah be my little helper a lot of times in some of my projects and endeavors. Anything I did, she wanted to do too and wanted to do better, and that’s how siblings go. When I was fifteen years old going and meeting the wonderful Ms. Marsha and spending time with her in her store, I had several businesses. I was obsessed with entrepreneurship from a young age. My first business, I was not quite middle school yet, and my friend, Olivia and I, we would watch the Oscars and the Golden Globes and see all the pretty jewelry and stuff that the celebrities were wearing.
This would happen in February, March time. I would spend the next couple of months babysitting so that I could earn enough money to buy a bunch of jewelry supplies. I would go and spend the next 2.5 months making jewelry, necklaces, and earrings with Swarovski crystals and all kinds of different things and take them to my ballet studio during the end part of May. While all the moms were sitting around, waiting for their students to practice for recital, I would sell them jewelry. In three days’ time, I made $1,500. I would do that every time during there was a recital and I did that a lot. Being a little kid, I was always very entrepreneurial. That went along with it. I thought I was going to be a millionaire by 22 when I was twelve. It was hilarious.
How many years did you do that?
I danced until I was in my twenties, so I made jewelry probably for five years.
That was one. You said there was another entrepreneurial business before fifteen.
I did the jewelry. It was called Krista’s Krystals. Very cheesy, KK, little cards. I also had a baking business and we live in a neighborhood that had a lot of families and a lot of moms who were busy and working. I love baking and I love the creative aspect of icing all these cookies and cakes and finding recipes. I put together different packages of different baked goods and when kids were having a party or an after-school function or whatever, the moms would buy desserts from me. I had a little business doing that. I hired Sarah, my sister. She helped me bake cookies and ice things, and it was hilarious. I did that. In high school, I wanted to be a fashion designer before I went to college. I started a clothing line that we carried in a local boutique and sold that and learned all how hard it is to make clothes and try to market them. At the time, I had no idea how to market anything outside of word of mouth. It was fun. I’ve always been entrepreneurial and creative and more in the retail space, I would say, without even trying or planning it.
I have to ask, was the baking business called Krista’s Kookies? What was the clothing company?
It was named after my dad’s mother, Jean Boyer. I was going with the French. My dad’s side, their last name has a French heritage to it. I went with the whole French and fashion and whatever. It’s great when I think about it and think about all these different things.
What were your parents like during this time? Were they encouraging? Were they letting you figure it out on your own? Did they provide resources or help? Is your dad an entrepreneur? Where did this come from for you?
I have awesome parents. They have always said, “Be anything you want to be,” and they supported 120%. I’m very lucky. My mom is good at organizing things and making lists and doing strategies. She helped me. When I was doing the jewelry business, I forget how many quantities of things to order and how many things to buy. We would measure people’s wrists. “It’s going to take an average of these many beads and we need to order these many if we’re going to make 13 or 20 bracelets.” She was good at helping explain things like that.
What did your dad do for a living?
My dad is an accountant and he’s been doing that forever and he is awesome at it.
That’s a cool combination because one of the things I’ve heard in how people described you, two people both said dreamer as one of the words. One of them gave a descriptor of focused and someone else described you as an operations guru.
I am not an operations guru at all. That is where my weakness lies.
Even if it may feel like a weakness to you, there are still some strengths involved in that. Even starting three businesses before college is pretty remarkable in and of itself. When you think about raising your own family and kids in the future, what do you want to instill in them to provide a framework or foundation that could give them an opportunity to follow in your steps or whatever steps they want to? How does it inform how you want to raise your kids?
For me, I’ve always known from my parents that they loved me and that no matter what, they were going to support me. I could have been the biggest screwup or failure and they’ll still love me. I don’t ever doubt that. It’s huge. You can take on the world when you feel that way and when you know that to be true. I will admit I’m a complete dreamer. If I have children one day who dreamed that sky’s the limit and they can be anything they want to be and hope to be and they want to change the world, I would be thrilled.
I want to hear some more on being a dreamer because I share a lot of that. As dreamers, we can get a bad rep and get dismissed as being a dreamer or whatever. There can be a lot of negative along with the positive. In your opinion, what makes being a dreamer helpful and what makes being a dreamer unhelpful?
The version of me when I was younger, the dreamer version was that nothing is impossible and nothing can’t be done. As I’ve gotten a little bit older and had a few failures here and there, I’ve realized sometimes all dreams aren’t always the best of dreams and they’re not always going to work the way that you expect them to, but that’s okay. Part of being a dreamer is you have to try and you have to be willing to take a risk and it might not work, but that’s part of it. Those who dream are the ones who do something usually.
In current life or current context for you, is there anything that still holds you back from those dreams or from pursuing those dreams?
The biggest thing in the world is probably what everybody has, fear of failure and disappointing people. That is my absolute crippling, biggest thing. Every day, you have to go against that.
What do you think is bigger between the two? Fear of failure or fear of disappointing others?
Disappointing others and then fear of failing.
What is the self-talk like when you’re working through this? What does that inner dialogue that helps you put it in a better perspective or reframe it or move past that?
It’s looking at past experiences and thinking through like, “Why did I think this way? How did this happen? What can I learn from it?” It’s something that is probably a journey that you’ll be on your whole life trying to overcome and not believe in the voices in your head that tell you one thing and you give an affirmation to prove that, “No, that is not true. No, that is not who I am.”
For people who are reading who maybe have never taken that first step, who at twelve years old didn’t take that step of starting the business they wanted to and they don’t have this history to look on of experiences in times when they were able to overcome that self-limiting belief or thought process and do what they felt called to do. What advice would you give them or how would you coach them or talk to them about taking that first step and overcoming those fears?
The first step is you have to have someone who’s supporting you and encouraging you. Some people like to say in the context of a supportive community or you have a friend that you can ping pong your idea off. You have to have someone there that will listen to you and encourage you and remind you when you’re wrong. The first step is you have to have a supportive community. It could be your friend, your brother, your significant other, your mom. When you start to fear and doubt yourself, they remind you who you are and who you can be. It’s good to have that close friend or family member, whoever it is that you trust. Build those things back in you when you have forgotten them due to being stressed, tired, or having experienced something tragic.[bctt tweet=”There is something wonderful when people put their dreams in place and curate a beautiful assortment of goods in a beautiful space.” username=”upandcomersshow”]
What was it like being a dancer growing up and what traits did that instill in you?
I was a ballerina through and through and some might say my ballet career was my first big failure. I was going to be a ballerina. That’s what I was going to be when I grew up. Fashion and retail were second place. I studied and I was in a lot of ballets and a lot of recitals. I was lucky enough to get to dance in St. Petersburg, Russia. I participated in different events over there and do a little bit of dancing in New York City. I was on the top of my game and I broke my foot. When you’re a ballerina, your career doesn’t work when you hurt your foot. That happened right as I was starting college. It would be either ballet or college and I chose college.
What was that process like for you? I’m sure that had been one of the lowest or hardest points in the journey thus far, but what was that experience like? How did you end up breaking your foot?
It was through a series of being very stubborn. The one good thing about being a dancer, being an athlete is it teaches you work ethic and it teaches you how to commit to something and focus 125% and how to give it 150% every time you show up. There’s no going backwards. There’s only going forwards and you are focused. Whether it’s on mastering a specific dance choreography piece or getting into a certain training program or getting accepted into a certain company, whatever it is, that is your focus and you don’t let go of that. Sometimes in that relentless pursuit of excellence and molding your body to be this crazy, flexible, strong thing that ballerinas are, you do stupid things. I had hurt my foot and had slightly sprained it. One thing led to the next and stress fracture, and then it gets worse. I danced on it for over six months because I had an amazing part in Sleeping Beauty. I was the Lilac Fairy and I didn’t want to give that up and let it heal. I did a stupid thing, I danced on it. There were multiple in Sleeping Beauty for this particular part. In the middle of the very first solo, I came crashing on my behind and the whole thing is such an absolute blur, but it was miserable and tragic and it hurt so bad.
It had to have been crushing. With that being a decision-making point, did that make the decision easier in giving up something that you had dedicated your whole life to or was it still a battle?
For me, a big part of my life story was that ballet had become an idol and ballet had become a God. It’s the grace of God that He took that away and said, “No. Are you going to pay attention to all these other things or are you going to have a relationship with me?” My journey as a Christian started because of that experience.
The breaking. Yes, I am very familiar with that.
Being an athlete and then having a circumstance that’s not the best, it’s very humbling.
Sports are such a beautiful realm. We learn so much in any performing art, any sport, and especially the child. It gives us a lot of the structure to learn about life that we wouldn’t have otherwise. As kids, we receive instruction in that realm a lot better than we do from parents or others telling us about life. I love those arenas and what we learn from them. What would you say are the things about being a ballerina that you miss?
I miss going and stretching. You’re so in tune with your body and your balance, and there’s something about it, your toes and your muscles and where everything is. It is all in alignment in a wonderful way that you have to be working out, stretching and using those ligaments and everything all the time to feel that way. Ballet is so incredibly expressive when you start dancing and even how you hold your fingers and everything that you do, there’s so much emotion in every part of it. I love how you can express yourself. If you’re feeling sad or feeling happy, you can convey that in your movement. It’s beautiful to watch people when they don’t care about the world around them and they are dancing. They’re being totally them. When you’re not dancing, you don’t have that space to create in that way. I’m sure you can dance in your house and dance in your living room or whatever, but being able to dance on stage and do that thing is something I do miss.
Do you still dance recreationally?
I have not. I was exploring the idea right before the Coronavirus happened and I was looking at different studios and things like that.
I also enjoy dancing and I was going a little bit off and on in LA. With moving to Denver now, there are no places open. I haven’t even been looking, but I do miss it. It’s such a fun activity.
The first grown-up ballet I ever saw was in Denver. That would be Denver Ballet. Cinderella when I was little. At the time I watched, they were the most amazing. They’re so great. As a little kid sitting there and watching them do eight pirouettes at a time.
Back to the decision in college, you made the decision to go to college and pursue your second passion, which was retail at the time. Is that correct?
I went under the guise of fashion. Honestly, I did not realize the difference between retail and fashion and how they connect. I knew I wanted to be in The Devil Wears Prada and wear glamorous clothes and wear Chanel. I was lucky that by the time I went to college, I’d already gone to France a few times with Marsha who owns the beautiful boutique. I had gone to New York a ton of times with her to do market meeting or market appointments and even showroom so I can have an idea of what was going on. I thought I was going to be this fashion executive. I went to a small school in New York City so I could be around all the fashionistas and be close to the action and all that stuff.
What I did not realize is that you can’t jump into fashion and have any major that you want. I started out in school studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at a small private liberal arts college. The Economics part was informative and helpful, but the Politics and Philosophy I quickly realized were not exactly what I needed to be studying if I want to make it in fashion. I love being in New York and I love being around that energy. I ended up transferring back to a school in Florida that had a good marketing and retail management program. I figured if I studied retail management and I studied marketing, I can merge the two since there seemed to be the core elements of these successful high fashion companies. I transferred and ended up graduating from the University of Florida.
That’s parallel to so many people’s experience because we always have these fantasaical ideas of career paths. What we see on in the magazines or in the movies is this overnight journey or short journey from college to that play. We forget that it’s very complex and complicated. We don’t know. We’re naive. I love hearing that pivot you made. It shows that your experience as an entrepreneur paying off, even in the decision of what to study in college and how it connects and relates. What did you find from that point and coming out of college? How did your mindset or even your focus shift as you entered into the workforce in the real world?
During my junior and senior year of school, I was lucky. I had a couple of great professors. One is Dr. Watson. Another one was Cecilia Schultz, and then another woman by the name of Betsy. They were advocates for me and encouraged me to pursue different things in retail and in that space because they knew I loved it. There was a scholarship competition that they told me about. It’s called the YMFASF, the Young Men’s Fashion Association Scholarship Fund. It’s this group of people that work in fashion and retail. They’re headquartered in New York and they come up with a prompt and they ask different college juniors and seniors all around the country to write a response.
It’s like a thesis or white paper discussing this current retail fashion topic and how would they respond and how would they solve the situation, so to speak. The application and the prompt is a massive undertaking to do and to write it. It’s like an eighteen-page paper that you’re putting together explaining all of this while you’re on top of doing all of your regular schoolwork. I was working and felt it’s way too much. I didn’t want to do it, but my teachers kept prodding me like, “Krista, you should do this. Please do this.” I remember Cece, she messaged me and she was like, “Come to my office.” I went up to the office and she was like, “Have you done the application yet?” I said, “No,” and she goes like, “Give it to me.” I was like, “I’ll do it.”
To make a long story short, the topic was on dressing rooms and how to make the dressing room experience more customer-centric in retail and personalized. It’s a dry, boring topic, but it’s incredibly important when you’re trying to sell something to someone. I wrote my little piece and I did all-nighters and submitted that. Lo and behold, I was one of the scholarship recipients that year for my application entry and thoughts on redesigning and reimagining the dressing room. I got to fly to New York, go to the award ceremony, which is at Cipriani’s, and because of being a scholarship recipient to this fashion award, we were considered and labeled future fashion. Any internship or things that I had after that, my internships were paid. That never happens in fashion.
I had two internships after that and I got paid. It’s amazing. You get a cash prize that you can put towards your future life working in the fashion retail industry, which was great because as soon as I graduated, I moved back up to New York and started working. Since I was a recipient for this particular scholarship, there were a lot of big companies and plans that you have access to and that you could connect with. Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, all these big household names in fashion. Because I was fortunate enough to be a scholar, that opened a lot of incredible doors for me and that solidified, “I’m going to be the retailer.”
What an opportunity to get connected to such great companies and people early on. That is such an advantage. What misperceptions or what things did you view differently at that time that you learned later on in your career that would have been helpful to know earlier on?
Something that I would have valued from knowing when I was graduating instead of five years down the line is honestly how unglamorous fashion and retail is. You work late nights, weekends, holidays, Christmas, New Year’s Day or whatever it is. It’s not as glamorous as it is in the movies. It is a lot of hard work. There are moments of beautiful store openings and beautiful, wonderful product launches and big parties, but there’s a lot of math, Excel and a lot of boring admin side of things. That was a little bit shocking. At first surprising, and maybe it’s disappointing that it’s not glamorous all the time. It’s like work. That’s what work is.
What about the fashion side did you enjoy the most during that time?
What I still love about fashion is that you are a world creator. You get to create whatever version of yourself you want to be through your clothing choices. You can use that to empower others or you can use that to make others feel significant. Hopefully, you choose to dress in a way that inspires and encourages other people by helping them be you. I love that you can participate in something that can seem somewhat magical. That’s the dreamer in me. You create a moment when you go into a store, you enter into a world, into this bigger picture of something and your clothing choices and how you’re put together, that furthers that story. I love that. It’s very magical. It’s very Alice in Wonderland-esque sometimes.
When did you make the shift then from fashion to more of a retail focus? I know that your studies had you in retail management and marketing, but when did that shift happen for you?
My only two corporate jobs ever were internships. There was that Tommy Hilfiger and Juicy Couture. Both of them were amazing experiences. My first job right out of school when I moved to New York was for John Varvatos, which is an awesome men’s wear brand that has locations all over the place. It’s very music inspired. It was on rock and roll and the good clothes that are associated with that type of life. Denim and leather and all kinds of good things. I’ve been in retail, working physically in stores, in management, leadership, and sales associate positions, and running the whole gamut of operations and everything for fifteen years.
All of it has added up to your experience now, but what positions or places where you worked were the most beneficial for your experience or expertise now? Where did you learn the most?
I learned different things from different places. From Kate Spade, I learned the value of operations and clearly articulating who your customer is, what she does, why she does it, how she does it, and what matters to her. I don’t reference it when I train stores, but I think of it as a framework as I’m creating curriculums for them and for their unique situations and how consistent and how concise. The whole onboarding and training there was the best I’ve ever experienced at a retailer. Something that I learned from a brand called Billy Reid. It’s originally from Florence, Alabama. It’s a great men’s and women’s brand. I got to be their operations manager for the New York store, the Bowery, and that’s a magical place. What I loved about that space and what I learned from them is the power of hospitality and retail.
I had never seen it to the capacity. That brand is built around food, around music and around having a good time. Those are the pillars of the ideal Southern culture and that’s embodied through the clothes. This idea that our retail stores are more than a place you come to and buy things, but it’s this whole experience and we recreate that experience on a weekly basis in a way that welcome people in and they have fun and relax and be themselves. That was cool. Billy Reid did that well. Learning the idea of how hospitality goes hand in hand with retail, that shaped me in a lot of ways.
That is powerful and something that most people, myself included, underestimate. When I think of retail and stores, I think about the style of products, price points, promotions, convenience and some of those other things. It’s so easy to miss how it makes you feel by being associated with that brand and wearing that brand. That is a lot of understated value for most of the consumers that we know, but we maybe don’t even think about.[bctt tweet=”Part of being a dreamer is being willing to take a risk that it might not work.” username=”upandcomersshow”]
What’s the why? Why are we wearing this? How do we feel better about ourselves? What needs does this product solve? Maybe wearing that great leather jacket makes you feel like a million bucks. Because you feel like a million bucks, you’re confident. You go in and maybe you’re wearing that jacket on a date and it goes great. You feel good about yourself or you’re going and buying a dress and you’re wearing it to an interview or to your wedding or whatever. You feel like the best version of yourself. That’s an experience too.
Not that you’ve worked there, but what other brands do you admire or what would-be role model brands for you in this space?
I appreciate Sid Mashburn and Ann Mashburn, a clothier out of Atlanta. They may have locations elsewhere now, but they are rooted in good quality tailored basics. No matter who you are, when you walk in, you feel like a million bucks and you’re treated well. You’re offered a drink, a chance to hang out, play ping pong if you want. They give you service with a smile. They’re good. It feels like that old school good way of specialty retail. They have locations in DC, LA, Texas and Atlanta. They’re not this small little one-off store anymore.
I don’t remember all the brands, but I’d been in certain stores before they give off that atmosphere and that presence. It is refreshing, to say the least. It does make you want to support them. In your time in retail, how have you seen the space change? The culture and the economy and everything within the world changes, especially now, at such a rapid pace. What have you seen over your years in retail and where do you see those shifts or the space going in the future?
Some people might agree with my answer. Some people might not. Some people might think it’s ridiculous but it’s my opinion. When I was in school still and starting to study and be interested in it, we were focused on these big malls and these big places, big-box retailers, if you like to call it, that were focused on convenience. You go to Target, for example, and you have 3,000 options of laundry detergent. You go to buy cereal and you have a plethora of options. You’re even in the section where you have t-shirts and you have 25 red t-shirts to pick from or blue t-shirts. You have this overwhelming choice. I remember when I was getting started in this business, our malls were ginormous. They still are mostly ginormous, but big stores that had a lot of options for everything.
It’s almost overwhelming. Over the last few years or so, it’s been this evolution of the internet has started. You have the opportunity to have an unlimited array and assortment of goods delivered to you. You are online on your computer and then you can buy it anytime at any place. You don’t need to go to these huge malls. You don’t need to be in these places that take an hour to park and to walk and to find the store. This idea of going to a huge retailer that has 1,000 choices for you isn’t what we want anymore. A long time ago, people wanted to have a lot of convenience and had a lot of choice. Now the way the industry seems to have shifted is it’s going back how it used to be a long time ago.
It’s this idea of a general store or this idea of a very curated smaller business that is focused on the needs of that community and the needs of that neighborhood. Maybe it’s a space that has an interesting edit or assortment of goods. That is a different perspective. Maybe it’s a store that focuses only on paper products and stationery. They might have a more vast array of it, but it’s still specific and it’s still focused and you’re not going to have 500 planners in there and 50,000 thank you card options or whatever. In my opinion, we’ve seen it go from big to now starting to come back and be a little bit smaller. I love that because it’s more specialized, more focused and curated. I know that word is overused, but I like that word.
The bigger brands are even taking notice. Nordstrom have their little local shops. There’s the one on Melrose. In LA, there’s a great Nordstrom local and it’s smaller. It tailors to the needs and wants of that community and that demographic. Target is doing this where they have the neighborhood markets. They’re small scale stores. The footprint is 5,000 to 8,000 square feet in comparison to the ginormous superstores and markets. This idea of this smaller, more accessible, easier to navigate, more focused curation is what we want when we’re going to go to a store because then we have unlimited options online. We don’t need that in our business space.
I see that a lot myself, even as you say that. When you work with companies and even in this time, what do you see holding retailers back? Meaning when they see a need to make a shift or they see the culture changing, what are the most common things that hold a retailer back from making the necessary changes to adapt to the ever-changing environment?
It’s the same thing that will plague anybody at any time. It’s fear. Fear of failure, of not wanting to try, of not wanting to take a risk. With the Coronavirus, we’ve seen the need to pivot in so many ways, specifically for retail. It’s a horrible time for retail, but we’ve had some clients that have done well because they’ve started to do things they’ve never done before. They sell online or sell on Instagram. They’re amazed at how many new customers and clients they’re finding because they did a little pivot and tried something new. The big box stores like JC Penney’s, all these places that we’re hearing about, unfortunately, we’re seeing them have challenging times right now. If you look back through the course of it, there are certain decisions that they’ve made that have put them where they are now. Had they identified who their customers and what they wanted and what complete service they were offering to them participating in their business, they would be in a very different situation right now. Many people did it because, “We’ve always done it this way,” instead of, “Who’s our customer and what do they want?”
When did Retail for the People first come about? I’d love to hear a little bit from you about what is in the name and what the intent or reason is behind the name?
Retail for the People is because retail is a human experience. I started initially because I wanted to give store owners and brands the opportunity to create safe spaces where their team can thrive, where they can thrive, where their brand can thrive. One day, the name hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I struggled for a long time coming up with a name and it didn’t seem right. I had no idea what I was going to call this and it didn’t make sense. One day it was like, “Retail for the People.” That’s what this is about. Retail is a people business. It’s about the people. You’re helping them and you’re helping your customers. That’s what this is for. The name was very organic, but it speaks to what we do for the people.
When did this first come about? What was the initial spark or idea and what was the process of getting this going?
Retail for the People was more of an organic business startup. I was working in LA at a wonderful retail brand in Downtown LA. We looked a lot of emerging artists, a lot of emerging makers, different people, beautiful and special space. That’s where I originally met you. We did a lot of pop-ups in the store and it’s super exciting and a lot of fun. Through that, I met different individuals that had brands and have products and people would ask, “Can you help out with this? I’ve got a question. Do you mind meeting up for coffee and we can talk about this? I want to do a pop-up. What pricing should I do?” It was pretty organic. I like to talk to people and people would come in and ask questions.
It started very naturally. I did a lot of different consulting side projects before I ever made the business and registered it. A lot of the stuff I did, I did for free. I wasn’t even getting paid. I did it because I liked it and like the people and want to help them. There was a company called The Giving Keys that we all know and they wanted to renovate an Airstream. The president at the time came up to me and was like, “Can you do this?” The dreamer in me was like, “Of course, I can.” Have I ever renovated an Airstream? No. Do I know about Airstreams? I knew they were cool and expensive and they did neat things. They were like, “Can you do this in two months?” “Yeah, sure.”
Retail for the People started with that crazy, wild yes. A lot of good ideas start because of wild, crazy yeses and risks. You don’t necessarily mean for it to become what it does. I got a friend named John and he had owned multiple Airstreams and he did all kinds of construction work and was building sets and stuff for movies. He’s incredibly talented and he can do anything. He had renovated multiple Airstreams for himself. I frantically was like, “Can you help me with this?” He was like, “Of course, I’d love to.” We were the dream team that he and I went up and found an Airstream. We gutted the whole thing, built the thing out. There were over 30 coats of white paint on the inside to make it a glistening white color. We turned it into a pop-up shop for them. They used it for a couple of years and a lot of great memories and a lot of good times, but that’s essentially how we got started doing it. It was with pop-ups in this fun, interactive, experiential way.
I remember I did a little part-time work at that pop-up. That was a fun season. I enjoyed the time there and a lot of good memories with that Airstream.
For your first project, to be able to do a pop-up that goes to The Grove that is exposed to 20,000 people or whatever, what a great way to start.
After being in the space for a bit, what are your favorite projects to work on?
I love working with store owners. We’ve done a lot of work working with brands. We’ve done a lot of work doing pop-ups. I love the store owners because they have so much passion and they have so much heart, but they sometimes forget a little bit of why they got started. Helping them refocus then recalibrate and get back in and along with where they want to go with their business is special.
What do you see in the years ahead with Retail for the People, but also for the space in general? What are you envisioning for the future?
I think because of COVID and everything that’s happened and how stores are changing, I do think specialty boutiques are going to continue to rise. There’s going to be a lot of real estate available. Landlords are going to be more flexible in their terms and willing to take a risk on brands and people and to try something. We’ll see pop-ups go up. They’ll change, but we’ll continue to see those. We’ll continue to see specialty smaller stores that make an impact in the community. For Retail for the People, what I want to do is create curriculums and create content that helps retail store owners succeed in their business to understand their cashflow, understand how to hire their managers, train their managers, create this experience that makes a customer want to come back and be loyal.
My focus is over the next few years, I want to help 10,000 retailers, which is a lot, but we can do it because of the internet and because of everything going on and how people are more open and curious about doing things digitally over Skype and Zoom and all that stuff. I’m thankful the Coronavirus has increased the speed of people being able to try something new and to learn. Hopefully, we will be able to offer them solutions to some of the problems and some of the questions and help them grow their business.
I love the specific lofty goal. It’s beautiful. I want to come back to the online experience and what that may provide, but one of the things that you mentioned was how you help store owners or other entrepreneurs in that sense because a store owner is an entrepreneur. Maybe get back to why they started the business or even recognizing blind spots that they have. How do you encourage entrepreneurs or founders in embracing their blind spots?
It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to build a little bit of rapport and trust with them before you’re like, “You’re not doing this right.” We start with a simple process where we go through and we rewrite their business plan. It might not necessarily be formal, but we do a lot of one-on-one coaching with store owners. We go through that process. What is our mission? What is our vision? What is our why? Who are we serving? Who’s our ideal customer profile? What is our competitive advantage? We go through these different things. We work through cashflow analysis and understanding how much they’re spending, how much is coming in, talking about fixed costs, variable costs, all these different things. Through that, you build trust and rapport and it takes time. Once people can articulately look at and see how things are going, it’s not until they can look at the numbers and look at the metrics and the data themselves usually before they realized, “I’ve got a blind spot here. I’m selling this and I’m not making any profit on it. This is taking so much of my time.” We have to give them the data usually before they are willing to try something else.
We’re hard to change unless there are proven reasons why. That’s pretty human of us. I’m interested too on that front. In your experience in retail, what is the typical threshold of time where you start getting a lot more of these blind spots in as an owner? I’m sure within the first year of starting, everything is so fresh. You’re way more aware of all the things in your store or in your business that you’re selling. You may be on top of things more, but is there a time threshold you see? Is it several years, maybe five years where things start going through the cracks? Because of your routine or habit, you start having a lot more of these blind spots that are tanking your business per se.
For a lot of people, the first year is very exciting and it’s very fun and everything is new. It’s like a new toy. We’re stoked about it. We’re capturing customers’ information left and right. We’re doing marketing. We’re taking all sorts of cool Instagram pictures and work on finding new emerging brands. We’re spending a lot of time in our window displays and how we merchandise them. It’s great and it’s exhilarating. After a while, you get tired. It’s the nature of dealing with the general public. When you’re a small business owner, specifically in retail, you don’t have a big team. Those stores have I would say 5 or 6 people, and that’s it. It’s not that many. You start to get burnt out. Usually, if you don’t have handbooks and systems and things in place or a business plan or an idea for beyond why you’re doing what you’re doing other than, “I liked pretty things,” or “I wanted to open a store by year two,” you’ll crash and burn. You’re fed up, overwhelmed and exhausted. You don’t know which end is up and you need help.
Another question someone mentioned in a background call about asking you that would be interesting to hear from is in regard to the leadership and working with leadership. What do you see as the danger of toxic leadership in a business setting and how would you define toxic leadership and your experience as well?
In retail, toxic leadership is micromanagement. It ruins more store managers, key holders and good people because they are not given the space to thrive and do their job well and you’re not trusted. Trust is one. Micromanagement is two. Those are the people killers.
How do you encourage people in letting go of control and letting go of this micromanagement or in trying to build more trust maybe more quickly with your employees, staff, or even the other people involved in your business or even the consumers? What are the encouragements that you give in those scenarios?
You hired them. If you hire them, you have to expect that they’re going to do their job that you hired them for. Why are you doubting them? You need to believe they can do until they prove wrong.
If we go back to the online world and the virtual world that a lot of what businesses have shifted and pivoted to, what has it been like for you as you work on creating a curriculum or even online courses? What are these online offerings that you’re excited about and how has the process been in creating those?[bctt tweet=”Retail is a human experience. It is a people business. #RetailForThePeople” username=”upandcomersshow”]
It’s been quite fun and a lot harder than I would have thought. Lantz and I have been doing it together. He joined Retail for the People in 2019. He’s got a good background in entrepreneurship and sales. It’s a little bit different, but he’s worked at bigger scale projects than I have, and so I appreciate that. We essentially had about twenty clients that we had and we worked on together in 2019. We were coaching and working with and learning the commonalities in the specialty retail space, the smaller businesses. These are retail businesses that are doing under $500,000 a year. They are on a small scale as far as specialty businesses go. Working with them and realizing that through the course of these 18, 20 stores, there were a lot of similar problems that they’re having. We kept having to go over the same communication and the same scenarios.
He was the one that was like, “We need to make and put this in a curriculum that’s easily digestible, that these learners and people can access at any time whenever they want and make it so that anybody in any place can learn.” That’s the biggest roadblock is a lot of people don’t go to school for retail and it happens naturally or accidentally or you get into it because you like it or you’re retiring and you don’t know what else you’ll do. Maybe you’re a designer or you’re a hairstylist and you have a salon. Your retail becomes part of your business to support your main thing, but then it takes up all of your time. What are you going to do? Through Lantz and I were working on those with those different stores, we’ve been able to articulate a lot of the process that helps specialty boutique retail. That right now is our big focus because we love how there’s such a big element of a neighborhood and important part of a community.
What has surprised you or what has been surprisingly difficult about creating an online course?
I overcomplicate is the first problem. You wrote a book, so you know trying to get your ideas short and concise. I can ramble for a very long period of time. How do we condense this and how do we use language that someone who might not have been around this for a long time could pick it up and understand? It’s been challenging because a lot of stuff you use and some of the terminology and some of the things, I’m so used to it, it’s ingrained in my brain or Lantz’s brain and other people might not know what we’re talking about. Going backwards and finding those things and finding those gaps with the first few rounds of this course, we’ll probably have to do some refinements and ask people, “What does this mean? Help explain it again.”
It is so challenging. I sent one of my coaching pamphlets to a buddy for some feedback and it was humbling. There are so many buzzwords we use and we throw these things around like candy, yet what does that even mean? How do we get this to a simplified form where everyone can understand it regardless of buzzwords that can mean a million different things or maybe loses half the people that read it anyways?
For us, it’s important because we revised our mission statement. Our mission statement for Retail for the People is, “Retail made simple.” That is our biggest filter. How can we do this? You don’t have to go to school to even understand this. You can be a business owner that has a profitable business because you know these core things. Simplifying what is necessary. What is fluff? What is distracting? When you google retail math formulas for successful business, there are 50 formulas that come up. If you don’t know which ones matter and which one to compare, it’s overwhelming. We’re not experts yet, but that’s what we’re trying. That’s our aim.
What does the rest of the year look like for Retail for the People?
We are relaunching our website and having a lot of great things. That’ll be at the end of the month, August 31, 2020. We are going to slowly drip out additional products. We’re going to launch it with an eight-week course. You can sign in and buy the course. Every week that you complete the assignments, you’ll get the next lesson and you’ll be able to become a better, more successful retailer when you’re done. It’s not retail one-on-one but turned on its head as related to COVID and different things. We have a few products that you’ll be able to download and utilize, a store manager onboarding, a whole thing on interview questions on your job description and offer letters, expectations, what should their time be used for? What are the different KPIs that are good to set for your manager? We find that if you don’t have a clear job description, clear expectations, in six months, everyone’s frustrated. You feel like that’s a huge pain point that a lot of retailers have. We’re going to help them with that and give them a whole packet on here. You literally put the person’s name in this and sign it at the bottom and you’re good to go. There are three different products that we’ll launch and one hopefully later in September 2020.
It’s going to be sweet to see what comes from it.
I’m excited too because I’ve never had products. We’ve always been a service-based business, one-on-one. Due to everything that’s happened in the world, this is a logical step in order for us to help 2,000 retailers and do one-on-ones with everybody. We’re still doing it. We still do one-on-one coaching with store managers and store owners, but it was much too many of it.
I’m in the midst of launching one as well. I’m with you in that. It’s definitely a good route to take. I’m excited to see what comes from that for you guys.
I’m excited about yours. I didn’t know you were doing that too.
It’s all about developing discipline. That’s the first one and hopefully, there will be a second one on developing awareness in short order afterwards. It’s exciting times. As you look at your career and your life thus far, what are you most proud of?
I feel like I’m proud that I love my family. That means a lot to me and I haven’t given up. I feel like there have been a lot of curveballs and different things, and I’m proud of having not given up.
Talk to me about the journey it’s been with your family. I know there was a move and what sparked that and what that’s meant for you and your values in life and your family?
I was in LA for five years and then before that, I was in New York for five years as well and love big city life. I love the fun, vibrant, exciting place. I was sitting at a place in LA called RVCC. It’s a cafe in the Arts District one day and got a phone call that no one ever wishes to get and found out that my dad had stage four cancer in his lung, spine, and brain. I was completely shocked by that. The world went upside down. This was at 3:00 in the afternoon. I got on a midnight flight and flew from LA to Orlando and then from Orlando to Jacksonville to be where my parents are. My mom and dad were in the hospital. I have no idea exactly what was going to come to pass as a result of that.
It’s hard and scary and all those kinds of things. It’s been a very good journey, even though it’s been very hard and my dad is doing fabulous. He got a new form of medication and all his tumors have shrunk. He went from being stage four cancer to being a cancer patient now that they argue about that even still exists. That was an amazing, complete God moment. There’s nothing else. The medicine totally helped. It’s amazing, but I don’t know any other way to put it because cancer is intense. During this time of my dad getting diagnosed, a week before that happened, this was in October and we had a bunch of pop-ups on the docket that we’re opening in November. We had nine that we were opening and it was like organized chaos.
I was here but then still coordinating things and going to New York and going back to LA and going back to Florida. It was this ping pong of craziness. It was hard because I wasn’t focused. I remember every time I got on the plane, I would cry. I was like, “What if something horrible happens while I’m gone?” Even I’m only to be gone for six days or whatever it would be to do work. That back and forth, initially we didn’t know that my dad was going to do so well. I made the choice. I was like, “I can’t do this anymore. My family was more important than this business and these different brands of people that we get to serve.” It was hard, but I packed up and I moved back to Jacksonville so I could be with them and still was commuting back and forth to LA a little bit. Now with Coronavirus and everything that’s happened, I can stay here a lot longer. It was a very hard season. I’m thankful for it though.
How has this season changed your view on life and even on your family?
You hold your family a whole lot closer and you realize what’s important. I can’t tell you how many Christmases that I either came home late or Thanksgivings that I missed because I’m a retail person and you work on those holidays. Now it’s one of those non-negotiable holidays together. We’re going to have moments together and we’re going to be together because if you don’t have your family, what do you have?
The second one you mentioned was that you haven’t given up yet. When was the closest you’ve gotten to giving up and what was that moment like?
I have to say in the midst of everything that was going on with my dad being sick and being very busy, I made some bad business owner mistakes and they’re ones that are pretty common, but they affect you in profound, horrible ways. I had a lot of clients and we were making good money, but I failed to do what was the hard thing and collect all our past due invoices and get these different clients. These different people are paying me for the money that was for work that we had done. It got to the point where I was paying my team with my own savings. I got to a point where I was owed a lot of money for projects, but I was too afraid to collect it. I was scared to collect it because I didn’t want to be the bad guy and I didn’t want these clients to not like me. The accounts receivable department was me and clearly, I wasn’t very good at it.
I went through all of my savings, which was multiple years of savings, and paying everybody to do all these projects and to work and got me where I had $1,000 left. I told my crew, which was a handful of people who were all wonderful and it still breaks my heart that this is what happened. I told them, “This is how much money I have left. I don’t have any money anymore.” It was very humbling and they each were very sweet and they worked however many hours within that amount of money. I was like, “I want to bring you guys back when I can when we can get this back up and running.” I felt like the biggest failure in the world.
I disappointed all these people and I let them all down and they were employed by me. I didn’t keep up with the accounts and the money that was owed to me, it ended up affecting not just me. It affected all of them and all of their lives and it was the worst. Now, because of going through that and dealing with that, I’ve learned this whole thing. Here I am trying to help retailers, but I can’t help my own team. I understand this idea of cashflow and I understand the importance of that. That now makes it so that we are better coaches and we are better consultants because I’ve experienced what’s at stake where you don’t do this. When you look like you failed because you’ve run out of money.
I am learning that I’m not the only one that’s done this. It’s very common. More businesses fail because of that. At one point, I was very highly considering, “Should I throw in the towel because I’m so embarrassed and mortified?” but Lantz was great. He was like, “No, you’re not going to give up on this. This has been your dream. You’ve always wanted this. You’ve worked so hard for this. You’ve worked all these years for this. Just because you made these mistakes doesn’t mean that business is set to fail.” That’s what happened and I’m thankful that he’s encouraged me to not give up on this dream.
That is such a beautiful story as well. Thank you for sharing. It’s so helpful. That’s what the beautiful thing about shows like this is that a long-form conversation or interview gets to show that when we see someone, we see this image of success. There are a lot of things that aren’t successful or don’t look like success along the way to create this outer image. That’s human. We’re all in that journey. There’s no one that’s immune to that. Everyone goes through that, especially when they’re trying to do something as challenging as starting and running your own business of any type. It’s admirable and honorable, especially because of the inevitable failures or things that aren’t going to live up to our hopes and dreams along the way. It’s important that we do share those. I appreciate you doing that.
Thank you. It’s good. It helps me help my clients better.
Before we end, one of most unique things about 2020 has been the Coronavirus and I know that you were planning on being married at this point and having a wedding. Talk to me about the experience of being one of the COVID fallouts of weddings and having to shift and pivot with the nature of the crazy times that we live in.
I know I’m not the only one because I know for you, your plans were a little changed a few times too. I have a handful of other friends I know that this whole spring, summer season definitely was not what we expected. I had a bridal shower on a Friday and it was wonderful and beautiful and so much fun. We were so excited and then come that Monday morning, everything started shutting down. We had to make the hard decision that so many other people had to make is we need to postpone this. The venue recommended it also for the safety. We didn’t know what was at stake. My dad having lung cancer and now that he’s doing great, we were concerned about that and our grandparents and different people that we cared a lot about.
Postponing was hard and that wasn’t fun. We’re still going to do in October 2020, so that’s exciting it was turned that way. I want to go home and my dad walk me down an aisle and have a wedding. Everything that we’ve been through with his cancer, that’s something I remember sitting in the hospital, crying and thinking, “If he’s not here, I won’t be able to do that.” That’s something I’ve always wanted my whole life. To me, that was important. I’m so thankful that we’ll get to do that.
In regard to working with your fiancé and soon to be husband, what is it like either working with him or co-founding your business with him alongside and how has that affected or impacted your relationship?
It’s a good thing because you get to see all sides of everybody. I’m not always the nicest person. He’s maybe not always a nice person. He’s nice most of the time. I get stubborn. When you work together, you see the good, the bad, everything. I liked that. Now that we work together, we understand how we deal with conflict and understanding how we deal with disappointment, with joy, how we overcome stress. There’s a lot of it. There’s still a lot to learn, but it makes your relationship better and stronger when you get to experience all of these different things a lot early on instead of twenty years down the road. Working together is a crash course.[bctt tweet=”Simplify everything. #RetailForThe People” username=”upandcomersshow”]
It does unveil a lot. It’s going to be an exciting season for sure for you guys. I can’t wait to see what comes. Krista, this has been such a fun conversation. I’ve appreciated your willingness to share the experiences you’ve had. Before we’re done, I have a few one-offs that I always like to end with. We can tell people where to find you. The first one is, what can you not imagine living without?
Coffee. That’s probably what everybody else says.
Do you have a morning coffee routine?
No, but my dream in life is to be able to sit and have a coffee and stare at pretty plants with the ocean every day or something like that. You can spend an hour and think, ponder and relax.
That’s equivalent to my dream. I try to simulate it on my little porch here now, but there is no ocean. There’s a field, a school play playground across the way, which is still nice. I’m grateful. I’m not complaining at all. I’m trying to take as much advantage as I can. What do you believe to be true that you wish everyone else believed?
Something I believe to be true is that God is good. Sometimes it’s a hard question to answer, but it is true all the time, even in good and bad. Something else I believe to be true is that kindness goes a lot farther than you can imagine. Saying hello and being nice. We underestimate the power of saying, “Hey.”
Before we do a few more here, what role has faith played in your life and how do you define faith now?
When you go through a lot of somewhat hard experiences, you get to choose, “Am I going to blame the world? What am I going to trust in? What am I going to think about? What am I going to believe?” There are lots of things to distract you. For me, I chose to follow Christ and to read the Bible and to learn through that. That is the best rock and foundation that you can have. There’s a lot of wisdom to be found in it, whether you’re religious or Christian or whatever or not. That’s a necessary important part of life. If we don’t believe in something, what’s the point? If you don’t believe in God, what’s the point?
It brings so much more meaning and purpose to life, doesn’t it? It’s truly remarkable. What new habit or belief has most positively impacted you in your life?
It goes back to the story that I was telling you about my thoughts and feeling and running out of money and not running a business successfully. That whole every day we get to try again, so that’s who we were yesterday. Are we going to believe that today? Are we going to try? It’s not easy, but every day we get to choose. For me, it’s the biggest new habit. Who am I going to be today?
What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?
A book that I like is one from this gentleman by the name of Donald Miller and it impacted me a lot. It’s called Scary Close. I remember I picked it up in a bookstore at the airport and read it on an airplane. The book is all about choosing to impress lesser people and connect with people that matter and understand what it is in your story that’s holding you back or keeping you from doing the things you want to do and why. It’s written so casually and so wonderfully. I bawled my eyes out when I was reading it on an airplane. That book made a huge impact on me a few years ago. I love that book. Another book that shaped Retail for the People and what I do a lot is the book that’s been very popular called Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Everybody loves it.
It’s a good question of asking why we do what we do, what motivates us, what drives us. If you don’t know that, you’re brushing through life. I liked that book a lot. A book that I find very important and necessary is the Bible, specifically the Proverbs. It has a lot of wisdom, religious or not. They talk about how to gain wisdom, how to gain understanding, how to deal with difficult people, how to manage your money, how to run a business. There are all kinds of great knowledge packed in there for anybody who should choose to open it and to read.
Krista, the last question that we ask every guest that comes on is if you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why? This would be a short message from you that they receive on their phones every morning.
What I would want to hear is that you are amazing. Believe in yourself. Today is a great day. For a coach that has a lot of wisdom is, what healthy risks are you willing to take today that will get you further where you want to go?
Krista, this has been such a joy to speak with you. Where can people find you? Where’s a great place to connect with you or learn more about Retail for the People?
Krista, thank you so much. This has been awesome. I’m so excited for Retail for the People and what’s ahead for you guys. It’s going to be sweet to see the impact you have on 10,000 retailers.
I’m excited too. It’s going to be great. Thank you so much.
Thanks so much for reading. We hope you all have an up and coming week because we are out.
Following up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Just go to ThaneMarcus.com/InThane to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released the first Sunday of the month. This is just a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.
- Retail for the People
- Economic Development Collaborative
- Krista Boyer – LinkedIn
- Sid Mashburn
- Ann Mashburn
- The Giving Keys
- Scary Close
- Start With Why
- Twitter – Retail for the People
- Facebook – Retail for the People
- @RetailForThePeople – Instagram
- Instagram – Krista Boyer
- @KristaJBoyer – Twitter
- @UpAndComersShow – Facebook
- Apple Podcasts – The Up and Comers Show
- Patreon – The Up and Comers Show
About Krista Boyer
Krista Boyer is a retail entrepreneur, consultant and coach. She is the Founder, President, and Chief Retail Strategist for Retail for the People, a retail firm she started in Los Angeles, CA and is now based in Jacksonville, FL. Her passion lies in equipping retailers (both individuals and businesses) with the tools to succeed in brick and mortar retail. She simplifies the process and helps them identify their core purpose, brand strategy, store design, retail operations standards, team training, as well as identify the reason to make their customers loyal and return.
She founded Retail for the People in 2016, with a focus on reinventing the physical retail experience, specifically through pop-up shops and team coaching that is centered on both operations and the in-store experience. Her work has been featured in Fast Company and WWD.
She currently serves as a Retail Consultant for the Economic Development Collaborative in Southern California and loves equipping and coaching specialty retail stores, spas, and boutiques. Krista also serves as a mentor and judge for the New York City-based, YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. She was a speaker at the 2019 REmode conference in LA discussing the topic of retail and how to re-humanize brick and mortar through pop-up and team training.
She has a huge heart for boutique retail and specifically loves working the store owners and store managers. While most of the retail industry is moving online, Krista and her team strategically serve retailers through personalized coaching and training for store owners and managers so they can have the tools, strategy, and community support to succeed in the digital age. She believes the future of retail hinges on people and she aims to serve 10,000 local retail businesses in the coming years and is very excited to be a leader in the shift the industry is currently experiencing.
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