Best Local Clothing Store (Women)
When did you start your business?
LuLaRoe on the Mountainside, owned by mother-daughter team Donna Thomas and Kirsten Thomas, officially launched in October 2016.
Kirsten wanted to start her own LuLaRoe business in March 2016, but didn’t feel like she had the support at home. Donna was preoccupied at the time working long hours as a vice president for a high-tech company and did not realize the business opportunity that Kirsten was exploring. Then, in June after Donna was laid off, she was cleaning off her desk when she found a pair of black leggings Kirsten gifted her months earlier.
After trying them on, she asked Kirsten about the business model. The pair signed the paperwork Oct. 20, 2016, and in short order have become one of the area’s most prominent LuLaRoe sellers.
LuLaRoe is an exclusive clothing line designed to fit women of all ages, sizes and shapes. It is sold by independent business owners online, at home parties, pop-up boutiques and other events. Kirsten and Donna held their first pop-up party Nov. 6 last year.
What is it like to work with family?
Donna and Kirsten say they are blessed to be able to work a business they love and with each other. Even when the days are long, having the flexibility to run errands and spend time with family is worth it all. Even if the time spent together is loading or unloading for events, they still have time together—and that’s what matters.
Your business is online. How do you connect with customers?
The mother-daughter team holds Facebook Lives, walldrops and album sales and also hosts weekly inspirational talks called Coffee & LuLaRoe. They also do face-to-face sales at vendor events and pop-ups, networking and fundraising. Additionally, they operate a boutique from their Frederick home, where local shoppers can pick up their purchases and shop the pair’s massive inventory and experience their rock star customer service.
What makes Frederick County a great place to do business?
They say Frederick is business friendly, and there is a need for the fashion consulting they provide. They have made connections with other local business owners and look forward to making many more!
What makes your business stand out?
LuLaRoe on the Mountainside carries the most expansive inventory in the area. They have about 10 to 15 items in each size of each style they carry. They carry all sizes offered by the company: XXS-3XL. They also have the capability to expand as necessary as LuLaRoe introduces new styles.
What advice would you give others thinking of going into business for themselves?
Being a retailer exclusively selling their products has created a viable revenue stream for Kirsten and Donna. They have created some wonderful friendships/customer relationships. It also allows them to be more involved in the community. Together, they have recently gathered more than $20,000 in donated food, clothing, furniture and other items for families in Hagerstown and Tennessee, as well as those affected by recent hurricanes.
Their advice for those interested in going into business for themselves is to pick a great sponsor. Your sponsor should be a role model for success, should explain how to do things successfully and should help you achieve your goals by keeping you motivated. Entrepreneurs often start a business with no backing if they don’t succeed. LuLaRoe offers to buy back undamaged inventory at 90 percent of its wholesale value, minimizing the risk.
Tell me about your most memorable sale.
We did a Facebook Live sale that a friend missed, so she asked if we would do a video chat with her and a friend to review a couple of pieces. They picked out a piece each and wanted to meet up at 10:30 p.m. during the week at a gas station. They wanted to inspect the items before buying them, so they held them up to the van’s headlights, and then they paid cash for them. That is not where we envisioned we would be selling our product…. late at night at a gas station. It felt kind of strange at the time, but the ladies were happy—and repeat customers. However, they now come to Kirsten and Donna’s shop to purchase their items.