Growing pains is a term often thrown around at Lush Fashion Lounge.
Back in 2009 we started in a very small store. It was 1100 square feet with only approximately 700 of that being selling space that customers could actually see. (I really should've planned that first buildout better)
Yep. That was Lush Fashion Lounge circa 2009. Before the Piko craze, before we had any Gameday apparel, back when graphic t-shirts were king! Before we had a website. A lot has changed since then! I mean ALOT!
We were always very good at social media and keeping up with it. Back before there were actual business pages on Facebook that you could "like" I had a friend page for Lush that I posted every single item we got with prices. Back then we didn't have models and I was one of 3 employees so I would dress our mannequins in every single item and take photos of our clothing on them.The mannequins eventually had names. Jack & Jill. (We had men's clothes back then too). You can see Jack & Jill above in the Old Lush photo.
As we gained popularity on the women's side I made the decision to cut men's merchandise so that we would be able to stock more women's new arrivals! Our customers loved seeing new arrivals posted daily on Jill the mannequin! We started getting a lot of requests to show pieces on real people not just on Jill. Again there was only 3 employees and none of us wanted to model. On a tight budget I improvised.....
Yep. That's my body. We started posting headless photos everyday. I want to laugh and cry looking through our old photos! Our store manager, Leslie, would take all the photos of my headless body. We would run outside quickly with the store phone in hand so we wouldn't miss a call because we were the only 2 working! If we got busy during a "photo shoot" we would help customers and revisit our "shoot" later once we had no one in the store!
In Fall of 2012 we fired Jill the mannequin when we hired Madison. Madison was not only sweet and totally adorable but she didn't mind having her face in pictures!
That's Madison's very first picture we ever took of her! She quickly became the face of Lush! She's still with us today and is now our assistant manager.
Around that same time in 2012 we experienced our first real signs of growing pains. We needed to create more room for our customers to shop in that little ol space and we needed to do it quick!
We did a quick and easy remodel of relocating our fitting rooms to the back of the store.
We also changed our color scheme and added a new absolutely BEAUTIFUL sign behind the cash register. That same sign is now hanging in our new store!
Around this same time our social media following was growing too! As we posted new arrivals daily we were starting to get tons of questions about if we would ship items.
We started taking phone orders and shipping things customers saw on Facebook! It was an instant hit and we were taking so many orders daily that our phone lines stayed busy. So busy that it became a problem for customers trying to reach us by phone for reasons other than just placing an order. Our lines were constantly busy!
In 2013 we launched shop.lushfashionlounge.com out of that extra 400 square feet of space I talked about earlier. I had shelves of merchandise EVERYWHERE. From floor to ceiling. I had rods of clothing above my head hanging from the ceiling. I would ship orders from my lap at my desk in the tiny little corner it sat in. On days when UPS brought us large shipments I would actually move my chair outside and sit on boxes until we got them unpacked!
Speaking of those shipments. We had nowhere to put them when they arrived now that we had launched a website in our tiny back room!
This was a typical day in what we now refer to as "Old Lush". If the weather was nice of course we could pile up shipments outside and get them unboxed and on the racks inside! What we didn't finish would stack up in my office/website space. If that was still too much I would take the rest home and bring it back in a day or two!
With both the store and our website rapidly growing we started hiring more help. I was lucky to have my best friend help me ship orders daily while she was in the process of opening her prom & pageant store that is now open! If you're looking for the best place in Oklahoma to get a dress for Prom, Pageants, or Homecoming I highly recommend Tres Jolie in Edmond!
Anyways, Lindsey and I would ship orders basically sitting on each others laps.
It looks miserable but this was actually some of the best times I've had at Lush! What could be better than sitting inches from your best friend everyday?! It was like the slumber party that never ended with endless amounts of Boy Band Pandora radio.
At this point we had stretched that tiny ol store as far as we could. We were bursting at the seams both on the sales floor and in our tiny website space!
In Summer of 2014 we announced that a "Bigger Better Lush" was coming soon! We moved one door down into a 4,000 square foot retail space that was previously occupied by a children's clothing store. The move was quick.
We painted and renovated in about 14 days. Once that was complete we packed up and moved quick in 3 days only closing on 2 business days to do so!
We now had multiple checkout registers, more fitting rooms, a public bathroom, and tons of room for trendy, cute boutique clothing at affordable prices!
Our new store gave us so much room to stock a paradise of Piko tops & tunics. We are now the largest supplier of Pikos in our region. I am fortunate enough to work closely with the brand owner himself to produce exclusive Piko prints, colors, and styles!
Our new store also gave us the opportunity to expand our gameday apparel selection as well. We now carry one of the largest gameday selections in the entire state for University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma, and OKC.
We really did underestimate what the reaction would be to the new store! Our customers were excited and eager to shop in a larger space! We quietly opened on a Wednesday in the new store hoping to ease into the new store, new computer software, and larger space so that we could work any kinks out before having an official grand opening.
That day will forever stand out in my mind. Our amazing, loyal customers were waiting outside of New Lush on that soft opening Wednesday morning. That was one of the busiest days in our time so far!
We then hired, hired, and hired more!
At this time shop.lushfashionlounge.com was operating out of the back half of New Lush! We started with just a few shelves and racks and 2 desks. I shared my office with our website manager and our now assistant website manager. I was no stranger to little privacy and tight corners!
After just a few months of being in New Lush our growth continued at a rapid rate. The more products we were able to keep expanding into with having a new larger store, the more we offered on shop.lushfashionlounge.com.
Shop.lushfashionlounge.com was quickly outgrowing the back half of New Lush. We once again had shelves stacked to the ceiling full of cute, trendy clothing! We were literally buried alive some days!
Buried alive but still having fun like always!
After just a few short months of shop.lushfashionlounge.com operating in New Lush we packed up and moved out into a 4,000 square foot warehouse space a few doors down from New Lush! We now refer to that warehouse as HQ. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get lonely in my big empty office these days since it's the first time in years I haven't shared tight corners with anyone!
My favorite thing about HQ other than the obvious reasons such as us having a very organized neat and tidy stockroom of all the fabulous merchandise you see on shop.lushfashionlouge.com is this gallery wall.
Its full of great memories dating back to our first day of being open in Old Lush! It's like a Lush yearbook that we keep adding to as we make more memories and reach more milestones!
Currently we employ 48 people including both gals and guys! We are one big diverse family!
As we continue to grow we are always looking for ways to improve our customers shopping experience whether it be in store or on our website. As we continued to expand into more products online, our website was starting to get jumbled making it hard for customers to find products easily online.
I am SO EXCITED to share our brand new website with you all! It went live yesterday (April 23rd).
Not only is the new site easier to find specific products you're searching for but there's now an option to shop our Instagram posts!! This new feature is sure to change the way you shop with us! Sometimes we curate looks together for an Instagram post that has multiple adorable, trendy items in it! Let's say you want that entire look as is and don't know the product names to search for them. Now you won't have to search! Click our Shop Insta tab on our website or you can click the link in our bio on our Instagram (@lushfashionokc). It looks like this
Say What?!?! We are SO EXCITED about this! Anything that is offered on our website and shown in an Instagram post will be easy to add to your online cart! Simply click the Insta post you're interested in and items that are available online will be numbered. Click any of the numbers to see that product and the colors offered, making it super easy to add the entire curated look to your cart!
I chose to write this growing pains blog for a few reasons.
First I wanted to give you all an inside look at what a crazy ride it's been here at Lush Fashion Lounge in just a short period of time!
Second I wanted to take this opportunity to brag on all our fabulous customers and say THANK YOU. You all are the most loyal customers on the planet. You've stayed patient every step of the way as we grow!
Third I wanted to take this opportunity to brag on my staff. In the early growing pains of Old Lush my staff worked insanely hard with no complaints. Never once! They approached every growing pain with a positive attitude and we had a lot of fun! Some of my best memories of Lush so far are working late with my staff. We really are a family.
Last I hope this inspires someone. I failed a lot before finding success. I still fail at things. Failures are the best learning tools. I'm never scared to fail or be embarrassed at failing. Ever. There was a time in the early stages of Old Lush where I was already planning my next move. I wanted to apply to law school. There were TONS of times when I wanted to give up. I envied anyone who knew they were going to get a paycheck each month because more times than not I could not give myself one. It was never easy but if it were easy everyone would do it!
We are still growing and learning everyday both in New Lush and at our HQ location. We learn something new every single day. Experiences both good and bad give us the opportunity to grow and learn and I am so thankful for all my experiences both good and bad!
As for growing pains..... the term still gets tossed around here at Lush Fashion Lounge. Stay tuned for our next move....
Til next time.
Stay in the Know!