10 YEARS IN BUSINESS

I can't believe it's been 10 years in business!!! I remember dreaming of opening up a clothing store and having a business ever since we were little. I remember our first business in college, a coffee drive-thru.  We were two broke college kids trying to make ends meet, put ourselves through school and follow our business dreams.  My sister and I combined all our money (about $1200) we bought an espresso machine and a coffee cart cart from a garage sale.  We worked our butts off every morning 4am-11 serving coffee drinks then going to school full time and working part time jobs.  We loved our customers and loved having a business.
 
After graduating SSU and expanding our cart to 2 spots we knew our next step. We wanted to sell the coffee cart and start our clothing store.  We were scared, it was a huge step, we just graduated and the economy had crashed. We decided what better time then now.  We wanted to start small in a 500 sq ft loft in the back of another store in our downtown Petaluma, a place we always shopped and called home.  We used our money from the coffee cart to buy used clothing, jewelry and shoes. We scavenged every thrift store and garage sale looking for the perfect pieces for our store.  We both had half our bedrooms full of clothing.

I remember the day we opened we were so nervous and excited. We were still getting the store setup and we heard a customer in the fitting room trying on, we looked at each other beaming! Our first customer bought a dress for $25 and we were ecstatic. We worked in the store 7 days a week, switching off days and working other jobs to make ends meet. We were exhausted but we loved it.

After about 1 year we started having a regular flow of local customers and were able to quit our day jobs and just focus on the store. After a year our lease was up and it was time to close or expand.

We both knew we wanted to expand and so we got our next huge spot downtown in an old bakery on the Main Street 2100 sq ft.  It was a huge step for us and a real gamble.  We decided to do new clothing and used clothing since we had the space. We started a website, that we figured out on our own. We worked everyday and started getting a loyal customer following.  I remember hiring our first employee after 2 years in that spot and we were terrified of leaving the store with someone else. 

When we decided to expand again we thought, why not a mall that we grew up shopping at the Santa Rosa Plaza.  We got a temporary spot and people liked that we were local. But soon our spot was getting taken by another tenant, we were upset because we were doing well there. We decided on a permanent smaller space across from Starbucks (best decision ever).  This new space thrived and allowed us to grow our business more.

This year we have expanded to beautiful Healdsburg and another location in Santa Rosa (our fourth space). My sister and I have been able to primarily focus on our fast growing website, which is so much fun!

We now have 20 amazing employees that our part of our team.

Our Sonoma County community has been a huge part of our success and we want to thank all our local long time customers for their continued support and helping us fufill our dreams!!

Fashionably Yours,

Cristina + Michelle Wilson
OOHLALUXE.COM

Leave a comment