Generating AU$1 million in annual revenue and with almost 1 million online fans, Beginning Boutique is a fast-fashion force to be reckoned with. Sarah Timmerman started the Brisbane-based boutique when she was 20 years old and in the seven years since she’s had an unwavering idea of what she wanted her business to deliver.
We sat down with Sarah in Issue 21 of The Collective, but read on for Sarah’s insights into the ideas that set Beginning Boutique apart in the online fashion market, and for a behind-the-scenes peek at their dreamy Californian photo shoot.
The ‘Beginning Boutique Girl’
Beginning Boutique actually has four girls. Lots of stores target one specific girl, but we try to be the store you can shop at every week. We have our boho girl, our girly girl, our party girl and our city chic girl – she’s sort of blogger-looking. When Beginning started it was just me, and I was trying to figure out how to run a business. I was 20 at the time, and 21 when it launched. I knew that I wanted to treat my customers like they were our best friends, and be a store that my friends could shop at. So naturally I wanted it to be for multiple girls.
How they treat their customers is a big deal.
We have hand written notes in all our packages. I think that really sets us apart. Our team are dedicated to making sure our returns are turned around in two days. I know that’s something my friends are always really upset about. So we are really passionate about getting back to people straight away. It’s the same for social media – we actually reply. It sounds like common knowledge, but people don’t put their resources into that. It’s a really big deal for us.
I heard a really good saying that your store is like a house, and people choose different ways to enter it. You have to be giving customer service across it, of course without breaching confidentiality.
Setting themselves apart in an ever-growing market
I used to have to convince people to let me sell their clothes online! It just pushes us to be better, and shoot better, and present it better, and have better customer service, and better everything. You can’t always compete on products necessarily. I think we do it really well; we have an amazing creative team and great developers. Have you read our product descriptions? They are hilarious; we just put so much effort into everything.
Online is where it’s at.
We can sell to everyone; I can sell to girls in lots of different cities. If I opened a shop in Brisbane, I couldn’t serve our customers in Sydney. I’m not opposed to opening [physical] stores, but being online is such a cool opportunity. We can sell outfits that give inspiration, show girls how to do things differently, we can shoot something and sell it same day. It’s a lot of fun; we get to do a lot of cool stuff that I don’t think is possible in store.
Catch Sarah Timmerman speaking at the Online Retailer Conference & Expo in Sydney, running from 22-23 July 2015.
The Collective goes behind-the-scenes at Beginning Boutique’s shoot at Joshua Tree National Park in California, shot by Grace Markham. Road trip anyone?