Tammy’s she shed boutique just opened, turning her backyard studio into a money-making retail space. See how this marketplace producer turned her crafting/sewing shed into a whole new sales opportunity.
Sometimes, a she shed starts out with one purpose and then ends up being the answer to another dream. This is what happened to Tammy.
Not too long ago Tammy asked She Shed Living to design and build a light-filled shed in her backyard. Tucked into a corner, the shed was a snug fit but felt organic to the space. Its back and side windows looked out onto stunning vistas of the Santa Clarita hills.
Adding drywall and soft gray paint, Tammy also added a floral embellishment and the words “Crafting is imagination at work” to the back wall. She had long since found the furniture she wanted and needed, taking precise measurements and drawing a space plan to make sure that all of it would fit. She installed a large set of cabinets went along the right wall and were immediately filled with fabric, bins of tools and sewing notions.
Wheeler left a long career as a hairstylist to do what she always wanted to do: focus on her creative abilities as a clothing maker and crafter. Her house was overflowing with projects and supplies. She was very happy with the finished shed. Some of its unique features include a double French door with built-in sidelights; two single-hung windows framed side by side; two skylights; and a peek-a-boo horizontal slider window in the back.
What happened after can only be called a stroke of retail genius.
Making the Switch
“I realized that my clothes selling business was more profitable than crafts,” Tammy says. She was spending so much time organizing sales at her Strawberry and Fig outdoor market venues that she didn’t have time to devote to anything else. “I moved away from doing crafts and just sell clothes now. I love doing it.”
Not one to dwell on the past, Tammy promptly sold all of the furniture she had in her shed to make space for lots of clothing racks, which can be easily wheeled around. She already had the racks and was glad to have someplace to display all of the inventory.
Once everything was set up to her liking, Tammy now needed to figure out how to get the customers in.
A Boutique That’s Both Brick and Digital
“I’m new to this,” Tammy admits, saying that she is not ready to give out advice until she’s had some time to see what works. Having a clothing store in your backyard poses a few challenges; you don’t want your driveway turning into a parking lot, for example, and neither do the neighbors (not to mention residential zoning laws). But the biggest challenge by far is attracting regular customers to your shop.
Drawing on her experiences as a vendor and a director of marketplace events, Tammy put together a plan for both “live” shopping and … well … live shopping. For those shoppers within her area, Tammy promotes a shopping trip by appointment. “My customers love that I have a physical place for them to come see the clothes,” Tammy says. “They’ve been wanting that for a long time.”
For everyone else, she hosts virtual shopping evenings via Facebook Live. About once a month, Tammy schedules an hour of browsing, with herself as the model and spokesperson. While a friend holds the camera, Tammy poses with select merchandise and describes the fit, fabric, and best ways to accessorize.
The event is both fun and convenient and Tammy is encouraged by the positive response. In a short time she’s already had several in-store appointments and much of her current merchandise is selling out fast.
Tips for Creating a She Shed Boutique
Here are some ideas for you to consider if you are thinking about opening your own backyard boutique.
- A hybrid model of private appointments and selling on social media is probably the best way to go. If you want to see how Tammy organizers her, follow her on Facebook. Alternatively you can create an ecommerce-type space on Shopify or Poshmark.
- With this setup you don’t need a checkout desk or fancy price tags. Do organize an inventory tracking system that works for you. Whether it’s Google sheets or Square, make sure you keep update your records daily. And if you do use something like Square, then you will want to create bar codes for each piece of merchandise.
- Start watching live presentations on Facebook or TikTok and learn from the ones you like. Take note of comments, what questions people ask and the general structure of the event.
- Invest in portable racks and fixtures so that you can also participate in marketplace events to increase your sales and visibility.
- Your boutique shed makes the perfect backdrop for photos of your new arrivals! Don’t forget to take advantage of that. Promote your beautifully styled merchandise on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and your digital storefront.