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After working as a buyer at Kohl’s Corp. for 10 years, Erin Juzenas was ready for a career shift that would allow her more time to be a mom while continuing to pursue her passion for women’s apparel.
She considered various direct sales companies, like Cabi, but decided she could source and sell trendier clothing at more affordable price points under a more personalized, convenient business model.
“What if I just started an in-home business, and it was kind of like opening a boutique, but instead of having a brick-and-mortar store we just take the store to women? They host parties, we bring the inventory and set it up, and anything they buy they take home with them,” said Juzenas.
Three years later, ShopPrivy has grown to eight stylists – each with their own curated assortment of clothing and accessories – based largely in the Milwaukee area, in addition to Indiana and Texas.
When home parties were put on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the traveling boutique moved all business online.
ShopPrivy broadened its customer reach using social media tools like Facebook Live to auction off limited inventory. The business also rebuilt its e-commerce site to seamlessly track inventory and process orders. Still, Juzenas learned that shoppers wanted the experience of working with a stylist face-to-face. Some said they wanted a place to pop in to browse and try on new arrivals.
In May, ShopPrivy opened a 1,300-square-foot storefront in the Wauwatosa Village area, giving customers another way to shop as well as a venue to host styling parties. Juzenas expects sales to increase by at least 50% because of the new foot traffic and visibility.
The space allows order fulfillment capabilities to expand beyond the confines of Juzenas’s dining room. For instance, Milwaukee-area customers now have the option of free, in-store pick-up within 24 hours of their order. As a modern-day retailer and small business, the key is to accommodate the customer however they prefer to shop, she said.
“The way people are shopping is changing. … Companies as small as mine and as big as Kohl’s really have to re-evaluate how they operate and make sure that they’re giving their shoppers the experience they want,” she said. “If what they’re doing isn’t working, then we have to evolve.”