Shopping, especially when it involves fashion, should be fun and a time where women can feel confident.
For Sassy Pantz Owner Natalie Reed, that means giving customers in her Fort Worth Stockyards-based locale a true boutique feel, while carrying that rich experience over to her social media and online shopping presence as well. We talked with Reed about running Sassy Pantz, the stockyards Western clothing and accessories staple with a healthy side of sass.
Tell us about your brand/store style – what does style mean to you?
My store originally started out kind of as that razzle-dazzle-cowgirl look. That is not me in the least. So I purchased the store back in 2015. It had already been established for a solid 12 years before I bought it, and I kind of started taking it the direction to what I saw Western fashion was going. Prior to purchasing my store, I worked in a very Western store for eight years and was an assistant buyer and had really gotten the knowledge from someone I respect as one of the top buyers in the industry. I think he’s fantastic, and I just kind of learned how to buy from a man’s perspective. Whenever I got my own store I was 25 or 26, and I was just like this young girl with a dream, and all I knew was I wanted to have a boutique, and I loved seeing girls feel pretty, so really my focus point came into being a Western style with a flare but at the same time complementing the body. I personal shopped for people while I was in college and cleaned out closets and really kind of studied what complements bodies. As a woman one of the hardest things is our self-confidence. We really tend to struggle with that and so I wanted to learn and have a place where a girl could come in and feel confident with what she put on, and not only that but feel pretty.
Do you feel buyer confidence has returned? What factors influence your answer?
I’ll be completely honest. I really did surrender my store to the Lord last year, and I whole-heartedly just sat it down at His feet and said you know ‘Lord you’re going to have to step in or it is what it is,’ and the whole purpose behind my store is to glorify Him. So from that perspective He has been so good to me, and this year we have excelled numbers that I never thought my store could do. It’s been amazing and such a Godsend, because every weekend and even during the week, I’m just like ‘Oh my gosh’ [at the traffic]. I just caught up my books for the year, and I was just kind of in awe and called my dad and was like, ‘this is crazy,’ because buyers are coming back, and they’re coming back strong. They, I think, are so sick of being in their houses and being stuffed away. Where [now] they’re coming out. They’re shopping. My store is in the Fort Worth Stockyards, so I have a major mixture of clientele. I have tourists from all over. What I’ve noticed [this year] is that the majority of our tourism is actually coming from inner-state, and that’s kind of cool. We’re having customers from all over the state of Texas and all over the United States, which is pretty unusual. Our main clientele is typically foreign tourism. That’s my main focus with the storefront.
Has the company’s digital strategy evolved over the last year?
We have an online also, but I didn’t have an online until the pandemic last year and kind of got it handed to me and didn’t realize how badly I needed an online, and so I did that, and it was probably one of the best things that I could have ever done. I am not very tech savvy. That’s mainly why I fought getting an online [presence] for so long. I had my store for six years before I ever got an online.
What is your best tip for online growth/engaging with your audience?
I guess the main strategy I’ve noticed is, one — keeping up with inventory. That is probably the best thing, because here’s the thing. If it’s showing up on your website and you don’t have it, you can’t sell it, and so that has been a big part for me, but then also we focus a lot on our social media. My little sister has her own business and all she does is manages social medias. She does a phenomenal job. She’s very good about posting to Facebook and Instagram and Stories. We do Reels. We do Tik Toks. We do a combination of everything, but she is the brains behind everything. But that’s been cool getting on Instagram, getting on Facebook, being aware of who your audience is. I know that online my audience is a lot younger than what I have in store, and so paying attention to that has been really big for me and just not getting too out of what’s selling, paying attention to what I do sell a lot of online and making sure that that’s what I’m presenting online.
Do you have a brick-and-mortar presence? If so, how has the re-opening process gone – have you changed anything about the store?
I haven’t changed a whole lot. We did NFR last year. Right before NFR we did a huge in-store makeover. We got new pictures. We painted the walls. We gave her a facelift, and that has been huge, because even my typical customers I didn’t see much last year have come in and gone ‘oh my gosh, the store looks great. It’s so easy to shop.’ Aesthetically I change my store almost every week, and I try to give customers a true boutique feel, where when they walk in the store, they do feel like they’re in a different store every time, and I do try really hard. I put things together that go together. If you walked into my store, it’s very easy to shop, because the outfit is right there for you to see, no matter [your body type]. It’s all about placement and eye placement. There’s a lot of research behind how you aesthetically set your store up and what sells and what doesn’t sell, and learning some of those facts has been really good for me, because you want to sell things. You don’t want things to just look pretty. You want to turn them, and then at the same time, as you turn them you have to know how to adjust your store so it doesn’t look like it’s a hot mess.
Are you planning to set up at trade show events this year? If so, which ones?
I actually have two businesses. I have one that’s called Wild Horse Watchin Bands, and it’s like [bands for] smart watches, and then I also have my store which is Sassy Pantz. I set up Wild Horse at NFR every single year. This year will be my first year to take my storefront to NFR. I will actually have a booth at South Point. I teamed up with one of my girlfriends who owns a boutique as well.
Which products are selling well right now?
We are killing it with boots and with t-shirts. It is crazy. My boot business- I cannot keep them on the shelf, which is kind of unusual. T-shirts are doing fantastic. I am in the Stockyards, and that’s kind of a prime cowboy location, but my boot business has probably gone up 75 percent from where it was two years ago.
Are you keeping an eye on any current Western fashion trends?
Here’s the thing when it comes to a trend, a trend will come and go, so I try to focus on a traditional piece that will pull a new trend. One of my favorite things about shopping is, I like to take something and make it my own. That’s kind of what I try to do in the store is I try to present something where, a girl that’s 15 can come in and find something, but at the same time, her mom can come in and find something. That’s been my goal with the store, so one of the big trends I suppose that a lot of the fashion influencers are pushing right now has been that retro vibe and so that’s been really fun to watch.
What advice would you give to Western businesses in the current market?
A big thing with me is- my group of friends that own stores, we really do try to build off of each other. We’re honest. I have a group of girls that are all boutique owners as well, and all of us, we do our own thing, but we listen to each other, and we get advice from other parts of the world. We’re all a Western boutique. A big thing for us is we talk about things. We say ‘hey what’s selling good for you?’ The big thing would be get your bubble, be honest and true with them and don’t be all about screwing each other over. Don’t be the mean girl, because being mean in our industry, it’s not going to get you very far, because we are a very small tight-knit industry. And too, I watch a lot of high-end [fashion]. I love high-end fashion, and I suggest [retailers] watch trends that are happening there. You’ll start seeing, whether it’s textures or ruffles, chiffon or flower print, you’ll start seeing those about a year, year and a half, before we’ll start seeing those in our industry, and that’s kind of a cool thing to look at too. [Finally] I try to just beat to my own drum. Find out what’s your niche, your thing, what do you like and what is selling, because that’s a big thing that I had to learn is just because you like it, doesn’t mean that it is going to sell. I would say, go to your own beat, keep your friends close you can trust and listen to each other. Don’t shut off other people and think you know everything, because you don’t.
Give us your best style tip!
One thing I would suggest for anybody is dress for your body. If you’re broad shouldered, and you have big boobs, wear something with a collar. If you’re like me, and you’re kind of built like a square, do whatever you can to give yourself a waist. I have no waistline at all so I have to be super careful on where my things ride and what tops I wear. So dress for your body and don’t be afraid or ashamed to do what you like.
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