Selling Millions Fancy Frills Boutique | Lauren Parks

Lauren Parks, Call Me CEO, Selling Millions
 

Selling millions may have seemed like a lofty goal, but Lauren Parks and her sister Katie Darling put their doubts aside. Learn how two stay-at-home moms took a love for fashion to create their own boutique. Keeping their business strictly online they were able to reach 10 million in annual sales. 

What does it take to start selling millions?

Katie and Lauren, sisters and co-owners, share their step by step process. By pushing through hardships and learning that consistency was key, they came up with the ingredients to make their business a massive success.

There are no mistakes. There are only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error.


This is the quote that Lauren and Katie have lived by in building their business from a small shop on Jane.com to selling millions. Running a business takes hard work, but can really pay off. In this episode, Lauren shares her story in hopes to inspire others to work for their business dreams.

Above all, Lauren reminds us to have humility, even if we are selling millions and having 700% growth rate, just as she did.

“Stay humble, and take advice from other business owners that know what they’re doing.”

— Lauren Parks

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

In this episode, we cover: 

  • Experiencing failure before success
  • The process of trial and error
  • Ins and outs of running an online business
  • Becoming a trustworthy business

Resources and links mentioned during this episode:

CALL ME CEO

EPISODE: LAUREN PARKS

[MUSIC]

CAMILLE WALKER [0:02]

Welcome back everyone to another episode of Call Me CEO. I am your host, Camille Walker, and today, we are talking about Fancy Frills Boutique with the co-owner and founder Lauren Parks.

She started this boutique with her sister Katie Darling, and together, they took their fashion, passion, and turned it into a wonderful boutique where you can find amazing deals with really cute clothes. They partnered with jane.com and were Seller of the Year in 2018, moving into 2019 selling $10 million in sales. She won't say this herself, but she's grown over 773%, and this dynamic duo who had a passion that turned into a business as two busy stay at home moms really show you what it takes to make something happen.

What's really special and unique about this episode is that Lauren and I were at a special Bunco night. It's a card game. I don't know if you're familiar with that or not, but there were actually three businesses that were born from that business-inspired night. We stopped and talked after playing cards and said, "Why not us? Why not now?"

And that message is here for you today too. Why not you? Let's dive in.

[MUSIC]

CAMILLE [1:25]

So, you want to make an impact, you're thinking about starting a business, sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family and still chase after those dreams? Well, listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.

[MUSIC]

CAMILLE [1:43]

Welcome back everyone to another episode of Call Me CEO. I am so excited about today's guest. We have Lauren Parks, who is a dear friend of mine, and also co-owner of Fancy Frills Boutique with her sister Katie Darling.

Lauren, I am so excited to have you on the show today.

LAUREN PARKS [2:01]

I am so excited to be here. This is so fun.

CAMILLE [2:04]

Now, I want to go back a little bit with our backstory because we actually grew up in the same town. We went to neighboring high schools, but we had some shared experiences.

LAUREN [2:14]

Yes, we did.

CAMILLE [2:14]

But the story I want to talk about tonight is the Bunco night.

LAUREN [2:21]

Yes. Yeah, oh my God. So funny you bring that up.

CAMILLE [2:27]

I know.

LAUREN [2:27]

I forgot about that. Oh my goodness.

CAMILLE [2:30]

Yeah. So, what is so funny about the birth of both of our businesses is we were at a Bunco night together. How many years ago was this?

LAUREN [2:36]

Oh my gosh. It had to have been ten years ago, right?

CAMILLE [2:40]

Yeah. I think it was 10 years ago.

LAUREN [2:42]

Nine or ten years ago. Yeah, about that.

CAMILLE [2:45]

There were probably ten to twelve women that were there, and we were brainstorming about how we saw these women who were starting businesses from home, selling bubble necklaces. Do you remember that?

LAUREN [2:56]

Yes.

CAMILLE [2:57]

And we were like, "Well, why don't we do that? Yeah, we could do this. Why don't we start a business from home?"

LAUREN [3:02]

Oh my goodness. Yes.

CAMILLE [3:03]

And it was so funny because we were talking, the group of girls that were there all had different alliances as far as like who were the closest to each other or different ideas of how it might go.

LAUREN [3:18]

But we all got along so great.

CAMILLE [3:19]

We did.

LAUREN [3:20]

Same interests, yep.

CAMILLE [3:21]

Yeah, so from that Bunco night there were three businesses that were born.

LAUREN [3:26]

Yes. Oh my goodness.

CAMILLE [3:27]

One was Fancy Frills Boutique.

LAUREN [3:29]

Yep.

CAMILLE [3:30]

One was P.S. I Adore You Boutique.

LAUREN [3:31]

Yep.

CAMILLE [3:32]

And one was My Mommy Style.

LAUREN [3:37]

I forgot about that. I mean, I didn't forget. Now that you bring it back, I�m like, "Oh my goodness, I didn't realize how much came out of that three-hour night."

CAMILLE [3:43]

Yeah. Can you believe that?

LAUREN [3:46]

I know. And successful businesses. They weren't just side deals. They turned out successful.

CAMILLE [3:55]

Yeah, so I think it's really cool because there was so much that came from that night.

LAUREN [4:01]

Yup.

CAMILLE [4:02]

And what I love about it is that they were successful businesses, and we were cheering each other on, and they were all born from ideas that we shared together, but then, went and did our own things. Which I hope for those of you listening to this podcast right now, what I love more than anything is meeting women who are all about championing other women businesses.

LAUREN [4:25]

Yes.

CAMILLE [4:26]

There's room enough for everyone, and each of you who are listening has a unique voice, unique ideas, unique things that you can bring to the table.

LAUREN [4:35]

Yup. And you just got to not be afraid to go for it because I think in the world where it is hard. Women, they stay home, and they are moms, and it's hard to get there, to get started.

CAMILLE [4:49]

Yeah. So, I want to talk back about how that worked out for you because I did not warn you that I was going to bring you back to that fateful night.

LAUREN [5:00]

Which is so fun that you brought me back to that because I wish I would've shared that a lot more, because that night was truly what got me thinking about it honestly. That night, I came to my sister for the idea actually after that night, and wow, I can't believe that. How amazing are women that they can talk about this at a Bunco night, and take it, and run with it.

CAMILLE [5:30]

Yeah. And I think a lot of times that we often think, "Why me? How can this work out for me?" And I think from that night, I think about it all the time. I think, "Why not you?"

LAUREN [5:42]

Yeah. Why not?

CAMILLE [5:42]

"Why not the idea that you have going on in your mind?" I think that night, we were on a very high energy vibration, and possibilities, and believing in our own ability to do something.

LAUREN [5:54]

Exactly.

CAMILLE [5:55]

And I think that's what made it so successful. It was just such a good vibe. So, with that being said, tell me more about you, who you are, and then we'll dive into after that night, who Katie is, and how you got this business going.

LAUREN [6:11]

Yes, yes. Let's do it. Okay. So, I am a mom of three kids. My name is Lauren Parks, first of all. I think you already said that probably. And I�m actually a mom of three kids.

That Bunco night actually, my kids were little. My babies were fairly close together, and it was not the best time for me to be starting a business, to be honest. I think my youngest was maybe a year and a half? Yeah, she was a little over a year. And then, my oldest was, what was he? Probably second grade, so not even eight years old yet.

So, my kids were not self-sufficient at all and I'm trying to start this business. Honestly, it wasn't the ideal time, but I remembering thinking, "What better time than to start this?" And honestly, how I introduced my sister to the idea is we actually had taken our kids on a play date of all things like Bunco, play date.

CAMILLE [7:08]

Yeah.

LAUREN [7:09]

And we're at Gardner Village and we were sitting, letting the kids run around and play. I'm like, "You know what? I just always wanted to have something, start a business or do something on the side, just to bring in extra income."

When you have three little kids and it's nice to have an extra income, and I had said to her, "You know, why don't we start just selling necklaces online on daily deal sites and see what happens?" I had actually told her I was going to do it with a friend. And she was like, "Well, no. You're going to do that with me. I want to do that, too." It was so funny because she was almost like mad but not mad, but she's like, "No, you tell your friends that you're doing that with me. I�m your sister and I want to do the same thing."

My sister Katie has always worked. She worked at Nordstrom for many, many years before she had kids, and she was kind of the same way. She enjoys having something. She loves to work, but she also loves being a mom, too. Like I said, that has always come first, but as women, we've always both liked to have something, some kind of fulfillment, and we're not expecting it to turn into this big huge thing.

But anyway, so that's how it kind of came about, just literally on a play date, Gardner Village, talking about it. I look back, and I think, "How in the heck did we make this work?" It's crazy. Yeah. We put one necklace on a daily deal site and that's kind of how it took off.

CAMILLE [8:48]

Okay. So, I think your story is funny and interesting to mine because I did the same thing. I went home, and was talking to my sister, and she's like, "You're not doing this with friends. Do this with me."

LAUREN [9:00]

Which I'm actually grateful.

CAMILLE [9:03]

It is so good.

LAUREN [9:03]

And working with family is hard, but also your family is going to be there no matter what. And so, I actually am grateful that I did do it with my sister. And we can get to more details about that, but yeah, it was crazy how it started, just kind of out of nowhere. And I think sometimes the most successful businesses are started that way.

CAMILLE [9:26]

I agree. I think that you really saw the opportunity because I'm trying to remember if it was you that brought it up to the group. Was it you that was like, "Bubble necklaces are going crazy. Why don�t we do this?"

LAUREN [9:35]

You know what?

CAMILLE [9:36]

Was it you that was like, "Bubble necklaces are going crazy"?

LAUREN [9:39]

It was.

CAMILLE [9:39]

"Why don't we do this?"

LAUREN [9:40]

Yeah. I'd seen it on jane.com actually. And I'm like, "Why am I not doing this myself?" They're making so much money off these little bubble necklaces that are basically a designer store knock-off.

CAMILLE [9:56]

Yeah.

LAUREN [9:58]

And women eat that up.

CAMILLE [10:00]

Yeah. I think you had an eye for the trend, and you really were able to jump in, and have that fashion passion of, "We're doing this and why not?" So I remember, and you're going to laugh, because I think, did you start with the necklace, or did you have a bracelet or was it both?

LAUREN [10:19]

So, okay, we did start with a necklace. I'll never forget it. We called it the Farlow necklace. They sold the similar one at J. Crew, and it was a black necklace that had geometric designs on it. Anyway, we had tried so many times to get on jane.com, but we were a start-up business, so they didn't take it serious.

It was multiple times just driving them nuts. Resubmitting it, resubmitting it. Anyway, we never got that necklace on Jane actually. We got it on another daily deal site. I can't even remember what it's called. But anyway, so then, we thought, "Let's try another accessory." So, we got a bracelet watch.

CAMILLE [11:03]

That's what it was.

LAUREN [11:03]

Yeah.

CAMILLE [11:04]

I remember the bracelet watch.

LAUREN [11:04]

It was a leather watch. We submitted it to Jane thinking, "Let's just give it a go." And thinking they weren't going to accept it, and they did, and we were like, "We just hit the jackpot." We just got on Jane, this daily deal site where everyone was killing it on those necklaces, so we thought, "This is awesome." And anyway, so they accepted, and we were just on cloud nine. And we ended up selling, oh my gosh, over 500 watches on that deal.

CAMILLE [11:40]

That's amazing.

LAUREN [11:41]

It was crazy. Yeah. And we were way over our heads and we shipped day and night ourselves. It was just crazy, yeah. It's so fun to look back and think like, "This watch that was nothing I'd probably even pick out on my own at the store." But we saw it, and had a feeling that it would work out, and it did. So that's kind of like the beginning of the journey.

CAMILLE [12:06]

Now, you said that you didn't anticipate the volume. You were hoping to get on Jane. And for those who are listening and maybe not sure what jane.com is, it's essentially a daily deal site where the auctions would change every day, and it has evolved so much now since when it began.

LAUREN [12:22]

Yes.

CAMILLE [12:24]

Now the website is so robust, and there's so many categories, but at this time that we're speaking, there were only a few. Maybe a dozen that were available each day.

LAUREN [12:33]

Yes. I think it's that. I think there was maybe ten deals a day on there, which now I mean, there's thousands. Thousands, which I�m so happy for them. It really has been an incredible journey for them and they've been great to us.

But yeah, there was only about ten other deals on there, so we really truly did kind of, I want to say it's luck, it kind of was. They just liked the product and gave us a chance. We weren't expecting that much volume.

I remember, this is kind of a funny story. We would stay up late in the night to speak with our source out of China to get the watches there. We're like, "We need these watches." We sold so many. And back then, on Jane, you didn't have to actually have the product in house then.

And that's kind of how they evolved too. They learned from those mistakes. It's kind of trial and error. And we learned from it too like, "Oh my gosh, we have to make sure that we have however much we say we're going to sell. We've got to have that on hand." And so, I think we were all kind of learning at the same time. Jane was learning how to build their business, and we were learning how to build ours, and we were kind of growing along with them. But yeah, that was our first big moment where we were like, "Okay, maybe we can keep doing this."

[MUSIC]

CAMILLE [14:00]

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[MUSIC]

CAMILLE [14:38]

So, you tapped into something that I wanted to ask you about, so you have this source out of China, which my sister and I still did a Daily Deal site for a couple of months. The reason that we were burned from that is because we were getting product from China, and it got held up in Customs, and we were like, "Oh, this is such a nightmare." We were delivering P codes two days before Christmas, and it was such a nightmare.

LAUREN [15:03]

I was just going to bring up P codes.

CAMILLE [15:04]

Yes. So, tell me how you transitioned. You went from having the source to then dealing with Customs. We can talk about P codes, because we both dealt with that.

LAUREN [15:14]

Oh my gosh, yeah.

CAMILLE [15:15]

And that was the point for me where I was like, "Okay, it's either the busy code or the blog road." And for me, I was like, "I can't handle the customer service end of the fulfillment. That's not for me." And so, I went this other direction. You kept going with boutiques. Talk to me about the progression. Yeah, I want to hear.

LAUREN [15:30]

Like I said, with the watches, it was really stressful. I mean, we were hounding, hounding, hounding our sources and saying, "When are they going to get here? What can we do to push it through Customs?" And that same time, jane.com actually had another boutique on there who sold over a thousand P codes, and they didn't make it from China.

CAMILLE [15:54]

I remember. That was not me.

LAUREN [15:57]

I know. Oh, I know it wasn't. It wasn't us. Thank goodness, and I don't even know who it was, but we were all learning. These were new businesses honestly. Like I said, we were learning along with Jane.

Anyway, so they ended up having to refund a lot of really unhappy customers and so, after that, we were kind of like, "Oh my gosh. We were dealing with these watches." I mean, we would lose sleep over those watches. So, we realized that, "Okay, we need to rebound stuff."

And we decided to go to L.A., down to the fashion district down there. That's where a lot of buyers go, and they have a lot of shows throughout the U.S. during the year. And so, we thought, "You know what? Let's go to L.A. and try and source our stuff directly from L.A." And I remember the first time we went we were deer in headlights. We had no clue, no idea where we were.

We went Downtown L.A., and there's different spots for wholesalers and just regular people that want to go in and buy, and we didn't know where we were going. I remember walking into a business and saying, "Hi, do you guys sell to wholesalers?" And they're looking at me like, "You have no idea. You are clueless." So, it was kind of an unsuccessful trip. I mean, we did try and drive by the Kardashians' houses, so I would count that as a win and I have a picture in front of it. But we kind of left feeling a little defeated like, "Okay, this is a lot. This is a lot and I don't know if we're ever going to find a source here in the U.S." It was hard.

So anyway, after that unsuccessful trip, we came back home. And I remember I got online and just searched, and searched, and searched, and Google, and searched, and I finally found a source in the U.S. And so, we started buying from them and figured out, we were maybe half a mile away from where all the wholesale district was in downtown L.A. I was like, "Oh gosh, that would have been good to know."

But nobody directed us on where to go. Nobody. We had no idea, no idea. We had to figure this all out on our own, and I think that's kind of one of the things that make me so proud of how we got here is we literally put in blood, sweat, and tears, and frustration, and money, and time, and travel, and how to figure all that out on our own and it was so hard, but we did it. But it was hard and it's not easy. There's just no easy way to start a business.

CAMILLE [18:41]

So, for someone who is listening and thinking, "I want to know where the wholesale district is." Is it easier to find now? How do you find it?

LAUREN [18:49]

Yeah. It is easy. I mean, honestly if you Google wholesale in L.A., you'll find it. You'll find so many wholesale sources, but you do have to have a business set up. You have to have an LLC or however you want to run your business. So, you do have to go in whatever state you're in, and make sure you go with the wholesale license, because they don�t want anything to do with you. If you're not serious, they don't want to waste their time.

They are so busy. They are getting stuff in constantly, and they're manufacturing stuff. I went to a few of their warehouses outside of the fashion district, and it is crazy. I mean, they are just working, working, working. So yeah, you want to go down there knowing what you're doing. I made that mistake, so do your research for sure before you try to run that road because it's confusing and hard, but once you figure it out. We went to L.A. every other month since then to buy.

CAMILLE [19:52]

Still, is that something you do every other month?

LAUREN [9:54]

Well, no. So, we did up until the pandemic.

CAMILLE [19:59]

Okay.

LAUREN [19:59]

They've been shut down. Their factories aren't, but you can't go there. But yeah, we would go as often as we could, and we grew relationships with our supplies, and they knew us by name. When we would walk in, they'd call us Fancy, "Fancy's here."

CAMILLE [20:16]

Oh, cute.

LAUREN [20:17]

Funny story. When my sister actually had her last baby, three weeks prior, I'd had an accident at CrossFit gym. I had fallen, and I broke my jaw in three different places, and my jaw was wired shut. And my sister just had this baby, and I knew I was going to be wired shut for six weeks, but I needed to go to L.A. One of us had to work. She can't go. She had this new born baby.

So, I went down. I had my best friend fly down with me and she translated the whole time for me. And everyone, when I got there, they were like, "Is that Lauren of Fancy Frills? Are you fancy? Are you okay?" And I'm trying to talk like this. I'm like, "Yeah. Just business has to keep going." So, it was nice because we grew relationships with them, and they were so nice and helpful, even when times were hard, and we came with our jaw wired shut or my sister wasn't with me.

CAMILLE [21:13]

So, when you had that accident, how many years was that into your business?

LAUREN [21:19]

Oh, it was about two years into it.

CAMILLE [21:22]

So, were you feeling like you had a pretty good rhythm set up with your business enough? But I mean, that knocked you literally on your butt.

LAUREN [21:31]

Yeah, it did. That was one of those times in our business where my sister and I both were like, "Oh my gosh. What just happened?" What are the chances of her having a baby, and me being totally, I mean, I couldn't even do much.

But luckily, it was an online business, and I was able to still work. But yeah, that's one of the trials. My sister actually spoke at the Jane conference a couple of years ago, and she brought up that story and she had a picture of me in L.A. with my jaw wired shut. So, it's like it was hard. That was tough.

CAMILLE [22:14]

How are you able to keep going?

LAUREN [22:16]

Oh my gosh.

CAMILLE [22:16]

Was that a time where you were like, "Okay, we don't have to be doing this." I don't know necessarily what your financial situation was at the time.

LAUREN [22:27]

Yeah. And going back, when we first started, we were shipping in my basement. I was getting all the returns. We had no employees besides Katie and I. And about six months in, we actually hired my sister's friend to ship out of his basement. And so, that took off a lot of stress.

And it's been great for him because he started with us in his basement, and now, he has a huge fulfillment warehouse in Orem with a lot of other businesses, so I'm so grateful because we were able to give him basically a career opportunity. But yeah, he started shipping for us.

And then, I was getting all the returns and exchanges for quite a while, and that was so hard. It got to be so overwhelming, so we did finally hire out help in our warehouse. So, I think by the time I had broken my jaw and my sister had a baby, we had hired help by then. I think if it would have been sooner, we would have been in trouble. Business would have had to stop probably because there's no way.

I look back at the times that we were just shipping, and doing returns, and this, and that all by ourselves. I remember going to the post office all the time like, "There's got to be an easier way to do this." So yeah, luckily by then, we had kind of gotten more help even with social media by then. God, but it was tough. That was tough go that year.

CAMILLE [24:01]

Yeah. So, tell me how many years have you been in business by now?

LAUREN [24:06]

We have been in business for eight years now. So yeah, eight years in October.

CAMILLE [24:15]

Yeah. That's a good span of time to really have ups and downs. Let's rewind between years.

LAUREN [24:22]

Sorry, I�m jumping around.

CAMILLE [24:23]

No, it's totally fine. That's just how the conversation goes.

LAUREN [24:36]

I know.

CAMILLE [24:26]

Going back between years zero to two. You're fulfilling out of your home. You're going to these shows. How did you finally get to a rhythm that helped you to develop a business that you felt stable in?

LAUREN [24:38]

Honestly, trial and error. Making the mistakes and learning from them. That's the thing with business, it's like you are going to make mistakes and realize, "Oh my gosh. There's got to be an easier way to do that."

Truly, that's how we figured it out. I�m not going to sugar coat it. Somebody didn't train us. Nobody told us this and that. We realized that there has to be a different way to do this because it just wasn't logical to be going to the post office with all these packages. It wasn't logical to be spending all hours of the day and night shipping necklaces.

And I remember we did phone cases a couple of months after we sold that watch. There's a picture. I wish I had it. Of my sister, and my mom, and I at my parents' house with piles of phone cases just all around us, shipping one night at family dinner. And it made us realize like, "Okay, now that we're selling more and we're bringing in more revenue, we need to ask. We need to get help." Actually, at a Bunco night, we had people help us ship. How funny is that?

CAMILLE [25:50]

That's perfect.

LAUREN [25:51]

I know. But we realized like, "Okay, people are going to take us serious, and we want to pursue this and keep things going, then we got to make changes." That's when we hired out shipping. That was our first big hire.

CAMILLE [26:10]

The first big hire was shipping. So, tell me about when you had decided, "Okay, we have enough revenue." A lot of these deals that were coming in were through jane.com. Is that correct?

LAUREN [26:18]

Yeah.

CAMILLE [26:18]

It wasn't so much from your own website. It was using a third-party sales source.

LAUREN [26:26]

95% of our sales source was through a daily deal site, yeah. I'm trying to think. Starting a website is hard. I'm not going to lie. It's expensive. It's hard. You have to manage it all the time. You're on there basically 24/7. And e-commerce websites, they make it really easy, and we still have an e-commerce website. I love it, but yeah, our revenue was coming from Jane, a 100%.

But people have done it. My good friends, who owned a boutique called Poppy & Dot, they sold strictly on Instagram, and that works for them too, and they never went on Jane, and they did great. So, I think using social media and outside sources help a ton. I really think if you're trying to grow a business, you have to, have to, have to push all those sources on the outside, or else your business or your website will never make it.

CAMILLE [27:30]

Yeah.

LAUREN [27:30]

To be honest, it's hard.

CAMILLE [27:34]

But I think what you had going for you especially with jane.com was that you got in it at a good time, but you also were a reliable trendsetting source where they knew like, "Okay, Lauren and Katie have an eye for what's going to sell." And you did what you said you would do, and that's why you were able to develop such a strong connection with them for years, because I don't think that everyone that came into that same scenario was able to build the business with them the way that you have done.

LAUREN [28:05]

Yeah. You have to show them that you're trustworthy and you're a legit business. They want to know that you are real, that they can trust you to take care of their customers as well. And we did grow along with Jane, and they had been incredible to us.

I can get to this later but we won awards with them, and we are where we are today because we were able to work with them, and to keep the trust and the friendships. And there's so much I could say about our business with Jane. But yeah, that's the base of how we started in our business for sure. But not everyone's been able to keep that. I know plenty of boutiques that have come in and out.

CAMILLE [28:54]

Even now, I think it's really hard to get in with them.

LAUREN [29:00]

It's impossible.

CAMILLE [29:01]

Yeah. Can you? People listening now, can they get in? And do you still sell with them? Are you still doing that?

LAUREN [29:06]

Yeah.

CAMILLE [29:06]

I know you do so much on your own sites still.

LAUREN [29:09]

We still have seven or eight deals a day running on Jane, yes.

CAMILLE [29:13]

Oh, wow.

LAUREN [29:13]

We're on there every day, yeah. So yeah, we've stuck with them, and we've had people want to get involved in our business just to get an in on Jane. It's hard to on there, because they have a lot going on in their website now, and they're very saturated with women's fashion boutiques, so it does take a lot. It takes a lot. You got to be trustworthy.

Like I said, you go to have the product there. You got to be ready to ship in two days. You know what I mean. So, it can be tough but it can be so rewarding too, and your business can take off that way.

CAMILLE [29:53]

Yeah. Okay. So, let's go back to the two-year mark. So, you've had this accident. You're going to the shop, the L.A. district and tell me about how you were able to push through that. I mean, going through even a birth. That's not an emergency surgery situation. Can you really tap into that and talk about how you were able to keep pushing through?

LAUREN [30:18]

That was truly one of the hardest things I think that I have gone through, to be honest. I'm an anxious person anyway, so having this accident really rocked my world. Like I said, I was wired shut. I'd had multiple surgeries. I couldn't eat anything. I had straight liquid through a straw. Oh my gosh, it was so hard. And then, my sister has a baby, and there were times I thought, "We literally need to put it on hold. There's just no way that we can do this."

Fancy Frills by then had become our baby. We were so proud of where we had taken it, and I think that was the motivation. We were kind of at our prime to be honest. So, it was bad timing that way, because we were at our prime, and it just was not good timing that way either. So, I knew that I just had to stay motivated, because this was how our business was going to stay in business. And if we would have even taken a week off, that could have been detrimental.

So that motivation where we were at a high in our business kept me going. And luckily, as Katie and I both work online and our business is strictly online, I didn't really have to talk. So, the hardest thing was definitely going to L.A., not being able to eat and working 10-hour days at the fashion district, and not being able to talk.

It was so hard but that was one of my best friends. I feel like it was almost a blessing, because we found so many great things that trip, and it was a good time for our business. I think that's what kept me going. If things would have been tough and down, I think it could have broken us for sure. But yeah, the motivation and being at our prime kept us going for sure.

CAMILLE [32:26]

I think that's really such a human relatable experience. Do you feel like it connected you to the suppliers more? Because you referenced that.

LAUREN [32:35]

Yeah. I still talk about it.

CAMILLE [32:37]

Yeah. I was just going to say, because sometimes it's in those moments where it's like, "I'm down on my luck. This is what's happening, but I'm pushing forward anyway." I would imagine that really bonded you together.

LAUREN [32:48]

It did. Well, I brought my best friend with me. And at one point, she was in tears. She was like,"I can't believe I�m sitting here eating in front of you, and we're in L.A., and you can't eat any of this good food. And you can't talk to these suppliers that know you, and they feel so bad for you." And she just was in tears. She's like, "I can't believe that you've been able to push through this." And I'm like, "Honestly, it's the business and what I love."

And I think that's what's kept me pushing through it, and how caring those suppliers were for me. They would just stare at me and be like, "Oh my gosh." They'd call us Fancy. "Fancy, I can't believe it. You guys are still here and you can't talk." But they were so loving and so understanding.

And I'll never forget that trip. It was so hard, but it was really fulfilling for me too. It was humbling too. Don't take your health for granted. It's actually in business, because it can rock your world for sure. So yeah, that was a hard time for sure. But we kept it, nothing stopped. Things went as normal, and we made it work.

CAMILLE [34:03]

Really, you're amazing. Bravo. It's amazing.

LAUREN [34:06]

Well, trust me I have many other faults. It's not all been perfect.

CAMILLE [34:07]

Okay. So, your sister had connections to not only a shipment person that helps revolutionize your business, but taking on professional photography really changed your business as well.

LAUREN [34:20]

Oh yes. Photography, honestly, is the face of your business. It makes the biggest difference in everything you sell. Showing it through pictures, that's what makes people want to wear it. When you're scrolling online and to catches your eye and you're like, "Oh my gosh. I want that top. That looks so beautiful on her." So yeah, photography can make or break you to be honest.

CAMILLE [34:46]

Yeah. Did you work with specific models that you loved to work with or how did you figure that out?

LAUREN [34:54]

Yeah. So, at first, we actually had friends who modelled for us. Just some friends that we asked. And my sister Katie had a really good friend. Her name is Diana. She started modeling for us and from the get go, and she kind of became the face of Fancy Frills. And she's never modelled in her life.

It's funny how different people, she's beautiful, but she in her mind was like, "I'm not a model." But she ended up having the face. It worked, and she brought us a lot of business, just from being a naturally beautiful mom of three kids. And so, yeah, we did have a few that were just stand out models and then, we did start hiring more of all different sizes, shapes, and that really helps as well too. You want to be able to have models that can show what you're selling in all different ways.

So yeah, but we did have one that was definitely our standout. And people who know our business and have followed us for years would know exactly who that is. They'd say, "Oh, that's Fancy Frills", because she did just model for us.

CAMILLE [36:10]

What a good find. I mean, you have connections to everything you needed.

LAUREN [36:13]

I know. She does. I know. She lives in Utah County. Everything goes down on there, right?

CAMILLE [36:16]

I feel like it does. Yes.

LAUREN [36:19]

I know. Yes.

CAMILLE [36:20]

So, as you were building your brand, you have the face of the brand, you're starting to offer more customer service. I mean, your shipping time is insane. You order it, and it's sent out that same day. It's incredible.

LAUREN [36:35]

Yeah. We have an amazing shipper who's got it down. And that too is huge, especially when we've got Amazon Prime that people can get stuff in two days. To compete with that is tough. It really truly is, and so, shipping times were a big deal for us as well. So, we definitely made shipping a priority. Shipping and photograph, seriously, it makes the biggest deal even over prices. People will be bold, buy if they know they're going to get the product that is shown in the picture in a timely manner.

CAMILLE [37:11]

Yeah. I agree with that.

LAUREN [37:12]

We learned that the hard way to be honest, because there were times where we were shipping out off my basement, and it did take longer, and it was frustrating. So yeah, I mean shipping times are a big, big deal, especially where we're in a world right now where we do have Amazon Prime and stuff like that, where it can even come to your door even sometimes next day.

CAMILLE [37:29]

Ugh. That's a lot. So, tell me about growing with Jane, and what you were able to achieve with them. I know that you won some really big awards with them, and what was that like being in that? Take me through that process and what that felt like.

LAUREN [37:43]

Oh my gosh. It was surreal. Like I said, it took us a while to get on there. We really had to push and find the perfect product that they would accept. And once they did, we actually had over 700% growth in Jane. Just from Jane alone in three years.

CAMILLE [38:01]

Wow. Wait. 700%?

LAUREN [38:05]

700%!

CAMILLE [38:06]

That's crazy!

LAUREN [38:07]

I went back, and looked at a conference we spoke at, and I remember we brought that up. And we were digging into our successes over the years and what worked for us, and we saw that, and we were both shocked like, "Oh, we didn't even know that." But holy crap, 700%. I didn't even know it was possible.

So yeah, we grew a ton with Jane, a ton. Like I said, I think our model, Diana, and a few of our other ones, they helped a ton. The face. People trusted us. And getting customers' trust and putting a face with your name makes all the world in a difference. All the difference in the world, sorry, gosh, I'm rambling my words.

But yeah, it was incredible. It's surreal. It's surreal to look back at. The growth was so fast in such a short amount of time. We didn�t even move on to women's clothing for almost a year after we started, and that was big. So, it was a lot of growth at once, which can be good and can be super hard.

LAUREN [39:22]

Yeah. Is there a bit of advice that someone has given to you that has really helped you to grow and sustain your business?

CAMILLE [39:32]

My biggest piece of advice that I could give anybody is to be patient. I was telling you this the other day. Camille, one of my most favorite quotes that I live by through my business, through the entire almost nine years that I've done this is, "There are no mistakes. There are only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error."

And that's just it. You have to try things to see if they're going to work. And if they don't, and if they fail, you can't give up on it. Just try again, and I promise you for every ten times that you fail, one time you're going to see a success, and see that it's worth it. Because we've had so many days where we've had failures and hard, hard times, and things aren't always perfect.

And even in a business like mine, where we did grow 700%. It took blood, sweat, and tears. So, I think just letting yourself, letting the errors teach you so much, and learn from them is what really can make you successful. And stay humble, and take advice from other business owners that know what they're doing.

I think if you kind of going into it thinking, "Oh I can do this. I don't need help." That's the biggest mistake I see people make. Ask for advice. Ask for help. I love when people come to me and say, "Hey, I'm starting this business" or "I�m new. Can you help me?" That's not only humbling for me like, "Oh, I'm so grateful they came to me because they respect the way I grew my business."

So, ask for help. Reach out for help, and stay humble, and learn from your trials and errors through it. and that's how can be successful.

CAMILLE [41:18]

That's such good advice. Everything that you just said rings so true to me, and I feel like that applies more often than we think in all different kinds of businesses. I know with starting this podcast, I've had so much support, and positive women who are there just rallying behind you. That's the same that goes with blogging and sometimes, Instagrammers. Not everyone.

LAUREN [41:44]

And that's just the thing.

CAMILLE [41:45]

Yeah.

LAUREN [41:45]

And you know people on Instagram that aren't willing to rally around other women and ask for help.

CAMILLE [41:54]

They're there. I wouldn't say that's the majority, but it is there.

LAUREN [41:57]

No. The majority. It is there, but a lot of times, the success isn't there. It's hard to seek out help and ask for advice, but it's the best thing you can do. And I promise you that nobody's going to turn you down. People ask me, "Where did you buy that top? So, I can sell it." That's different from asking for help on "What was successful for you? What worked for you?" And people will want to help. People want to support you, especially when you're humble, and you take their advice, and run with it.

CAMILLE [42:31]

Yeah. And to feel the fear of asking and doing it anyway, that does take courage, but that's what it takes to grow a business. You have to know that going into it, you're not going to know all the answers. There are people around that will rally behind you, like you said.

LAUREN [42:48]

Absolutely, and I want to be that person. So, yeah.

CAMILLE [42:54]

Aww, well, you're just awesome, Lauren. Thank you so much for taking the time on the show today.

LAUREN [42:57]

Oh, absolutely. Thank you for having me.

CAMILLE [43:00]

Well, it's just been such a joy, and please tell our audience where they can find you, and reach out to you online.

LAUREN [43:07]

Okay. So, all right. We have a website. It's www.fancyfrillsboutique.com, and we are also on Instagram. It's just @fancyfrillsboutique. And another thing that we do once or twice a month is a Girls' Night Out on our Facebook via a VIP group. So, if you just go to Fancy Frills Boutique on Facebook, you can join. There's a link there that will join you on our VIP group, and there's always killer discounts on there for items, and that's really fun too. And we have a discount code, right, Camille? For all our listeners today.

CAMILLE [43:42]

Yes. Go ahead and share.

LAUREN [43:44]

So, it's callmeceo30 and it's all just one word: callmeceo30 or go on my website, and treat yourself to a new outfit in this gloomy winter time, wherever you're at. Actually, it might be sunshine where you're at but not where we're at.

CAMILLE [44:01]

Yeah. Truly, I love shopping Fancy Frills. They have awesome Grab Bags when they have onesies and twosies of things they're done selling.

LAUREN [44:11]

We have those right now actually.

CAMILLE [44:12]

I know. They're on sale.

LAUREN [44:15]

They're $12.99! We're like blowing stuff out right now, and it's so great for the customers.

CAMILLE [44:21]

It really is. I'm telling you.

LAUREN [44:22]

You're going to hit a gold mine with a grab bag. Yup. Grab yourself a couple.

CAMILLE [44:26]

Check that out because it's almost like this lottery of, "What's going to come?" And if for some reason, you didn't like it, it's like a 5-dollar top that didn't work, it's worth the thrill.

LAUREN [44:38]

It's better than the Walmart prices.

CAMILLE [44:40]

Totally. And 90% of the time, I like everything that comes.

LAUREN [44:44]

Yeah. And if you don't, give it to a friend. That�s what I always say.

CAMILLE [44:47]

Or your daughter if it's a size small.

LAUREN [44:50]

Or your daughter if the size is too small.

CAMILLE [44:51]

Exactly.

LAUREN [44:53]

And that's the thing is our sizing does run sometimes across the board, but for the most part, it is true to size. You can always email us. We have a little text icon on our website, so anytime you're questioning that too, we're there to help.

CAMILLE [45:05]

I'm a big fan. I'm a big fan of you and a big fan of Fancy Frills. Thank you so much.

LAUREN [45:10]

Thanks, Camille. I'm a big fan of you. I admire you so much and all the successes you've had.

CAMILLE [45:16]

Wow, you're awesome. Well, thank you so much. Thank you everyone for joining us today. Please join us next week for another episode. Same place, same time and we love you. See you later!

[MUSIC]

CAMILLE [45:28]

Thank you so much for tuning in to today's episode of Call Me CEO. If you found it helpful or inspiring, I would love it if you shared it with a friend. And also, I would love it if you came and joined me on Instagram at callmeceopodcast where you can join likeminded mommas like you, who are looking to step up in their lives and make it even better. Thank you so much and I will see you next week!

[MUSIC]

[46:00]

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