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A Look Back with the Owners of Creative Touch Boutique

A look back with the owners of Creative Touch Boutique

As we've turned the corner on our One Year Anniversary of opening the doors to our new location, we're reflecting on the journey with a mix of emotions~ pride, gratitude, and a dash of exhaustion. (whew, new buildings are no joke) From the initial dream of expanding the business to the intense continuous realities of making it a success, let's take a walk behind the scenes with our 3 owners of CTB~ Amy, along with her parents Pam and Dan~ to get the inside scoop on all things new building and expanding CTB. 

Reflecting on the past year, what do you consider to be the biggest accomplishment for CTB in it's new location?

Amy~ Our team is a huge accomplishment for CTB in it's new location. We've been blessed to find the right people to put in place to create the best functioning team. Not only is our business able to continue to grow in our new space, but our team is able to grow their knowledge and experience as well as crafting new skills. Opening day was a beautiful moment. To see the community rally around us was incredible.

Dan~ SURVIVING (lol) For the first few months of business we did not have our elevator installed. Pallets upon pallets of inventory would arrive and need to be brought to second floor. There was so much physical labor to get this new location ready for action.

Pam~ For me it was more about getting the store organized and keeping up with demand. Just learning our new space. 

Describe a specific challenge or hardship you faced as a business owner in the past year. 

Dan~ My focus is more on the building. A challenge for me was to find tenants for 3rd floor. That was a key part of our income picture and without the elevator it was really hard to get renters. Now, finally, a year later we have 7 of 8 offices rented and it's such a good feeling for me to finally be at that point where I can sit back and relax. 

Pam~ Keeping up and staying ahead of the trends. Making sure home décor is kept up with. We went in an entirely new direction in this location. 

Amy~ I have a couple challenges; personal and business. Keeping up with time. With being a wife and a mom to 3 kids, our youngest not even 2 yet~ to be here and find the time and be away from them, its a lot. No Joke. The sacrifices. Your family has to be a team to get through something like this. It's not all rainbows and butterflies. Keeping the store filled and just having the vision~ what do we need, what do we want and how are we going to fill it? Staying up to date, filling the customer demands and being able to shift on the fly as you're going. Know when it's time to let go of something and move onto something else. Always keeping things flowing and moving. 

How does your initial dream for the new location compare to the reality of operating here for a year?

Amy~ I mean.. I like to dream big. So I wanted a place where we could continue to grow, not only in store but online as well and have the space to do so. I think that we've definitely grown and we've increased our sales. Not as quickly as I would like, which is more of the reality. But we're utilizing more of the space and filling it more than I thought we would, like on second floor in our warehouse. But I still have the visions of .. when we do we take over 3rd floor, and when do we bring on this person and when do we expand shipping.. what happens next? The reality is we haven't grown as much as I've hoped, but we've still grown and that is amazing. Something to be thankful for and appreciative of especially with where things are at in the world. 

Dan~ Good. (LOL)

After some prompting, he said this: It's been amazing settling in and seeing how everything fits together. Of course there are little things we wish we would have done differently but that's the case with any new building or home. It's really turned out pretty close to what we envisioned. I'm excited about how our staff has grown with the building. How they have blossomed. Our manager, sales floor staff and marketing department continue to grow and add hard work to their plates and I can sit back and watch.

Pam~ The dream is the dream but you're so busy trying to get everything sorted that you don't take time to pause. Once we got here and it was accomplished... it was like WOW. It's way beyond anything I ever had hoped for. 

Looking forward, if you could narrow down to your top 3 goals for the next year, what woud they be?

Amy~ Obviously I always have the goal of growing. I want to continue to grow our online sales. I would like to add more staff with that growth and continue to grow our skills and knowledge. Bigger and Better. 😉

Pam~ Always improving how we showcase home décor so it's easy for the customer to envision it in their home.

Dan~ My biggest goal is helping to guide Amy and our staff to take over the responsibilities that Pam and I have because we know we can't be here forever. I always want to be available to help, but would like to let go of things. Before, I lived and breathed the store. On weekends I felt responsible for what was happening and now I don't have to do that anymore. I can rely on our staff and that takes a lot off my plate. To continue the process. 

Side question. I asked if the thought of stepping away from the business is daunting or exciting. BOTH. We can let go and the store isn't going to fall apart. It will continue to thrive, but being here gives us purpose.

Amy~ I have another goal! We have worked hard on identifying who our customer is and have shifted our buying around that "person". My goal is to continue to shift our buying for that person - anticipating their needs and desires better. 

Dan & Pam~ You have to be willing to change. There is a life that the product has lived and you need to know when to change.

Amy starts to sing "you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away..."

What advice would you give to someone starting out in a similar business?

Pam~ Location, location, location!

Dan~ You need to know ahead of time that it is going to be your life. You are married to the business. Be prepared to make decisions even when you're not at the store.

Pam~  Be passionate about what you're doing. Don't be afraid to shift gears.

Amy~ When I first started, I didn't know anything. Recently I've learned, you need to identify who you're buying for from the beginning. We always prided ourselves in the fact that an 18 and 81 year old can buy the same things here, but that doesn't work online. Brick and mortar vs online stores are totally different mindsets. You can be more broad in store but online is completely different and they need to blend together somehow too. Knowing who you're buying for helps make better educated decisions. For 5 years minimum, you're dedicating your literal life to the business. There is no pause. You have to know that going in. There is no balance. If you don't realize that you won't succeed. Be passionate but be realistic.

How do you balance dreaming big with the practical realities of business ownership?

Amy~ It's important to dream big and have goals but financially what can you do? If you go flying out the door then you're not going to make it. It's important to have goals. If you don't have goals, what are you doing this for?

Dan~ You have to be very careful with starting out as far as making sure you have cash flow so you can pay your bills. So many businesses try to grow too fast and don't have the money and that's how they fail.

Pam~  You get really excited and say I want this and this and this and you need a Dan that says STOP.

Amy~ Educating yourself is super important. It takes a team but it takes time to make the team. So do what you know you can and when you have the ability, hire in your weaknesses. Hire people who have great skills that you don't have and then they also bring new mindsets and ideas. Take all of the information in and make the decisions. 

Have you had any memorable surprises (good or bad) in your first year at this location?

Amy~ Every day is a surprise! haha! But in all reality and honestly, the cost of something this big. The cost of the team to run it. Building costs going up, interest rates going up, everything has been more expensive than we ever thought.

Dan~ Everything has changed from when we decided to go for it until now. Interest rates, costs, the economy... You just have to look at every expense and see where we can cut and where do we not cut. We need to keep our employees and pay them well but are there other things we can reduce?

Amy~ I knew we had community support but that first week of opening was everything. That felt good. The comments of the vibe and feeling like they're not in MN. That was a fun surprise.

Dan~  Yea hearing that the store felt like it belonged in a big city because it was so unusual for a small town like Alexandria to have this type of experience. I didn't envision that at all. It was so encouraging to hear.

How do you measure success in your business beyond the financial metrics?

Amy~ So when you had that style session (Hey, it's Simone here) and she left with so much confidence and had that experience, like, that is what I'm after. Beyond the money, beyond anything, I want to help people feel confident. I want to help brighten their day and make them happy with purchases they make. Purchases that will create an impact on how they feel. I heard that someone bought a devotional here and found Jesus. Those things are priceless. The fact that you can help facilitate things like that.

Pam~  She said it best.

Dan~  I just think that us taking this chance was such a positive thing for our community. We had a large hole in our downtown that needed to be filled and we talked after the fire.. everyone was saying we will be bigger and better than before... well, yeah, that's nice to think about but how is that going to happen? Who's going to do it? We did that. I don't know how we did that, but it's so great to know that we're trying to create a positive impact for the whole entire community.

If you could magically add one feature to the CTB building, what would it be?

Amy~ Like for the business or personal? Like a daycare and a gym would be great. That would be awesome.

Dan~ We should have built 4 stories.

Pam~ a wine bar or coffee shop.

What fictional character would be your ideal business partner? ( I said Ross from Friends.)

Amy~ Who's funny? I would add someone for comedy. I want Will Farrell but he's a real person. hahah!

If your business had a theme song, what would it be?

Amy~ You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em... or just keep swimming, just keep swimming..

Dan~ What is that?!Finding Nemo, duh! 🙂

If you could switch roles with any employee for a day, who would it be?

Pam~ I would choose a downstairs staff. I really miss talking with the customers.

Dan~  Me too, but I only want to be downstairs when I feel like it haha! I want to talk to someone and then be gone! I enjoyed that at the old store.

Amy~  Same, being able to talk to customers. Hearing what they have to say, what they're wanting and not wanting. And then when the shift is over you're done. The mental work is done, you can put it away. But yes, customer interactions.

And there you have it! That's a wrap on our behind the scenes interview with the CTB owners on our first year in the new location! We can't wait to see where the next year takes us. Thank you to our customers for allowing us to do what we love.

Chat soon - 🖤CTB

Thanks for reading!

Coming up next week: Summer Hair Care and How to Style!


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