When it comes to running a business, like fashion, it works best when you’re having fun.
Editor's Note: As statewide rules and regulations continue to change, please contact retailers for their latest store hours and delivery capabilities.
Mother-daughter duo Julie Young and Summer Cullins have been business owners for 13 years, operating the funky hippie-meets-outlaw-inspired Ya Ya Gurlz, a clothing and accessories boutique with locations in Abilene and Warrenton, Texas.
Did you face any challenges during the 2020 push for digital presence?
Our biggest hurdle was trying to figure out the Facebook algorithm [and] when to post. That was just horrible for us. We did hire a friend of ours, and she’s helping us do some posting. Our main thing was that we wanted to find someone that can take our posts and figure that algorithm out. Luckily enough there was a man that came by while we were in Las Vegas and gave me his card. I kept his card in my phone case ever since, and he called, and we hired them, and it has been phenomenal. It’s been a great thing, because I don’t want to learn [about Facebook’s algorithm]. That’s what they do for a living, and it has absolutely been great for us.
How have your digital strategies changed throughout the last year?
[The digital marketing representative] takes posts from our website and posts that we already made, and does an ad. I was able to tell him, ‘this is what we want out of it,’ and they’ve got a minimum budget. You can spend thousands of dollars, but just for the minimal amount we have spent so far, it has really paid off. We’re trying to post more often. I do email, my daughter does the Facebook group, and then the lady that helps us with the social media, she does the Facebook and the Instagram, so we try to make two or three posts a day to each of them, and then I send emails twice a week usually. That really has seemed to help. We can send an email Friday and an email Sunday, and those so far have been our best two days.
We try to be as personal as we can with the shipments that we send out so that [customers] sort of get an idea of who we are.
What is your best tip for online growth/engaging with your audience?
With online it’s hard, because a lot of times we don’t get to visit with [customers], but we always send a handwritten note. We send little gift items with our stuff, and that’s another thing that we have amped up in store and online is our gift items. That has done really well for us. We try to be as personal as we can with the shipments that we send out so that [customers] sort of get an idea of who we are. Our personality is very laidback. When I come to work I’m usually in the back working, and I have on a sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes. A lot of times Summer will have a ball cap on and her jeans and a t-shirt. That’s just who we are, and I think people appreciate being real and not trying to be someone you’re not.
Are you traveling for any trade shows in 2021? If so, what is your outlook?
We do the two spring shows in Warrenton, and we’re open there every third weekend May to August, and then we do National Finals Rodeo, whether it’s going to be in Vegas or in Fort Worth, either way it doesn’t matter to us. Actually in Fort Worth we had the best show we’ve ever had in 13 years of being in business. It was really good.
Are you expecting to see a return to in-person shopping this year?
We’re back to normal. We’re only open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and have been for a couple of years now. The capacity really doesn’t hinder a lot of small retail shops, because you’re usually not going to have 100 people in your store at one time.
Tell us about your store style – what does style mean to you?
Our [style] is more of an eclectic Western [style] and some rock n’ roll. Our vibe is sort of a rock n’ roll cowboy. I am very hippie, and my daughter is a little bit outlaw-ish. Our tastes are similar, but they’re different, and that’s what we work off of.
We are very verbal when someone is trying something on and they ask, we tell them ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘maybe try this size or a different style,’ whatever. That’s the main thing, women need to feel good about themselves.
Give us your best style tip!
I want [customers] to feel good in whatever they have on. If they feel good, they look good. I don’t ever want people walking out of here just to make a sale in something that doesn’t look good on them. We are very verbal when someone is trying something on and they ask, we tell them ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘maybe try this size or a different style,’ whatever. That’s the main thing, women need to feel good about themselves. They don’t really buy a whole lot for themselves. They usually end up buying for someone else, and when they do buy for themselves you want them to feel good about it.
This interview is part of an ongoing series that W&E is conducting with retailers. Click here to peruse more stories and interviews from the retail industry.