Thank you to the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC for sponsoring today’s Chambana Mom to Know. The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC will be celebrating National Small Business Week, April 29-May 5, with 13+ events – all free to attend and open to the public. Learn more / register at http://www.cusbdc.org/event/2018-national-small-business-week/.
Kristi Carlson calls herself a true townie. She also bleeds Orange and Blue, having received three degrees from the University of Illinois, including a PhD in Kinesiology. She has taught Kinesiology in higher education for the past 12 years, the last 6 at the University of Illinois. In addition to teaching, she recently became the owner of One Week Boutique, the area’s largest children’s consignment sale. Kristy has three children, including daughters Lyndley (8) and Atley (6), and son Tanner (3). “My passion and area of expertise is in promoting physical activity among youth, so we are a very active family, and can usually be found going between various sporting events and programs.”
See why we think Kristi is a Chambana Mom to Know.
Q) First question: Congrats on your purchase of One Week Boutique (OWB). Why did you decide to buy the business?
Thanks! I am a big believer in fate and that things usually happen for a reason. When I was approached with the opportunity to purchase OWB, I was going through some life transitions, and this seemed like just the challenge I was in need of, for myself, as well as for my children. I am also a firm believer in the concept of OWB, and feel it meets a need within the community. OWB allows people to purchase necessary items at a reduced cost, while also providing individuals with the opportunity to make money selling their own items. Just as important, we are able to give back to the community by donating an incredible amount of unsold items to local organizations. Given all of that information, purchasing the business seemed like a perfect fit.
Q) OWB is a business, but it’s also a community of people. Why is this sale so special? (I ask speaking from experience of selling and volunteering.)
It’s special for the exact reason you specified; that it is a community. Parenting is hard and participating in OWB brings together so many diverse people, who usually have much in common as parents or caregivers. Through the sale, people who may otherwise never have met, talk, offer advice, commiserate, laugh, and develop lasting relationships. This makes the sale not only financially beneficial for most people, but also fun and an event that people generally look forward to throughout the year.
Q) Longtime sale watchers want to know: what plans do you have for the future of OWB? Will you change or alter the concept?
At this point, my plans are to continue running OWB just as it has been run in recent years. The concept works and Donna (former owner Donna Pepper) has developed it into a well-oiled machine. While there may be minor changes over time, I see no reason to drastically alter something that has been proven to work so well! I do plan to seek feedback from various parties associated with OWB, however, so if you have ideas, please throw them out for consideration!
Q) With the rise of online swapping systems, OWB has a lot more “competition” than it did when it started 15(?) years ago. How has that impacted OWB and how will you address that challenge?
There is no question that online swapping systems are a point to contend with, but currently, it doesn’t seem to be a large issue. The last two sales have produced the highest number of consignors for the respective seasons, and we continue to attract shoppers. I believe this is due to a number of factors, but one is that, while similar, online sale sites and OWB are two very different entities, with OWB being a special destination location, and online sales being an everyday occurrence. Both present advantages and disadvantages, but a huge benefit of OWB is that it allows you to get rid of or purchase everything all at once, rather than having to tend to it constantly. Plus, it is so much fun; many shoppers turn it into a night out with their girlfriends! I have done transactions through online systems, and I assure you, there is nothing fun about it!
Q) What are you most looking forward to as you head into your first sale as OWB owner (public shopping dates April 21-23)?
I am most excited about seeing old friends and making new friends, as I transition into a new role with the sale. The relationships I have formed as a consignor and volunteer over recent years is what always brought me back to the sale each season. I am looking forward to continuing to foster those existing relationships, while also making new ones. Plus, I can’t wait for my children, and especially my daughters to see the sale for the first time. They have heard about it for years, but have no concept of exactly what it entails. I am excited for them to see it in real life, and to see me as the owner of the sale. While they are still too young to comprehend exactly what that means, I hope I’m serving as a good role model for them and instilling strong values within them.
Q) What do you see as the biggest learning curve you’ve faced so far becoming a business owner, and what has helped you adjust?
The biggest challenge thus far has been finding the time to learn about the exact operations and logistics that go into running a sale; life has been pretty busy lately! The thing that has been most helpful is the fact that I already have a great deal of experience running large special events, which is essentially what One Week Boutique is. In addition, I have the BEST teacher I could ever ask for in Donna, the previous owner. She has walked me through every step of the process, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her!
Q) Who is a business person you see as a role model, and why?
My dad has owned his own construction business for most of my life, and he was the first person I approached for advice when this opportunity presented itself. I have been fortunate enough to watch him succeed in business through good times and bad, and have learned a great deal throughout these observations. I hope I am able to apply some of those teachings as I move forward as the owner of OWB.
Q) Do you have any advice for other women/moms who want to their own businesses?
If you have a dream or an idea, do your best to make it happen. Most moms and women devote a great deal of time to their families, often at the expense of their own dreams. It’s important for children to see you chasing your dreams, however, and to see you doing something for yourself. So even if it’s hard, or exhausting, or scary, don’t let that hold you back from going after something you desire. The mom guilt will be present, but the long-term benefits for you and your children will far outweigh the short-term challenges.
Q) Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
I have an obsession with children’s stories and someday I want to write a children’s book! I have been writing them in my head for years; someday I hope to actually get them down on paper!
About the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC:
The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC is part of America’s Small Business Development Center Network, the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States, and provides information, confidential business guidance, training and other resources to start-up and existing small businesses. The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC is funded through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce, and the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation; with additional support provided by EDC of Decatur and Macon County and the Midwest Inland Port. Learn more at www.cusbdc.org.
About National Small Business Week:
Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness. Learn more at https://www.sba.gov/national-small-business-week.