Lacy’s: Success By Design
EDWARDS – Walk into Lacy’s in Edwards and you will likely be impressed with the women’s designer clothing collection you find. But it is the woman behind Lacy’s success that makes the store remarkable. Owner Louise Young runs her store with the prowess of a life-long retail giant, but it was not always that way. Lacy’s opened its doors over seven years ago when Young and her business partner, Christie Banowetz, decided they wanted to do something for themselves that was completely different than their office jobs – open a lingerie boutique. Neither of them had much experience in retail, so they relied on their corporate experience. Before opening, they conducted surveys on the types of clothing and accessories the store should carry.They also wrote a business plan, found investors and, with money in hand, they headed to Denver to order lingerie. “We dove right into it not knowing but learning as we went,” Young said. Thankfully, Young says, they met some buyers who were willing to help them learn how the retail buying process worked.As the years passed, the store’s customer base grew, as did the demand for new lines of clothing in addition to lingerie. First, they expanded to lacy tops. Now Lacy’s sells designer formal wear, casual wear and sports wear. And yes, lingerie too. Among the designers they carry are BCBG, Trina Turk, Lilly Pulitzer and Betsey Johnson. Young said she and her managers regularly travel to New York City and Los Angeles to attend fashion shows and buy the clothes that will appear on the racks at the store.
In September, Lacy’s packed up and moved to Riverwalk in Edwards. With its high ceilings and expansive feel, the new space is much more suited to the range of clothing that it now carries, says Young. Challenging timesSuccess rarely comes without challenges and Young has had her share. Learning the retail business by trial and error was only one of the hurdles. About two years ago Young bought out her partner after they were no longer able to agree on the direction of the business. Young is now the sole owner of Lacy’s. Buying out her partner was a big step for her because it mean she had to muster the courage to break out on her own, she says. She felt more secure and was comforted that customers kept coming in the store, she says. And if anything went wrong she still had her primary income as branch manager at SOS Staffing to fall back on, she says. Young has faced some tough personal challenges as well. She is a survivor of ovarian cancer and after her recovery, was still able to bear her two children, now 4 and 1. “They’re my miracle babies,” she says. Balancing her roles as a wife, mother of two young children, branch manager at SOS and owner of Lacy’s has certainly been challenging at times, she says. Young says she manages all of her roles by taking one thing at a time and “making lots of lists.”
Young attributes much of Lacy’s success to her staff. Having a great staff to run the store’s day-to-day operations is of utmost importance to Young and the growth of the business, she says. She has never had difficulty finding good people, she says. “We provide a fun atmosphere for people to work in,” she says. From the beginning she made a point to involve the staff in everything including the buying, she says. Lacy’s usually ends up hiring people that shop at the store, she says. That’s what happened with current manager Sarah Reynolds. “I used to shop here, and then I started working here,” says Reynolds. Words of wisdomSpending time with Young, one is struck by the focus with which she runs her business. Young’s experience as an entrepreneur has yielded many lessons learned, she says, and she is happy to share them. She encourages new business owners to write down their goals. “If it’s not written down it’s just a dream,” she says.
For Young, thinking up new ideas and seeing them from start to finish is one of her favorite aspects of the business, she says.Young cautions new business owners to make sure they have enough operating income when they start up. You must have a strict budget and stick to it, says Young. Early on she and her staff often over-bought inventory and cash flow was tight, she says. It took some time to learn the balance between inventory and demand. Learning to manage inventory better helped her business become stable, she says. Above all, says Young, one must stay positive. “There’s been many tears over this business,” says Young. But through it all she has remained positive, learned from her mistakes and grown her business, she says. As for the future, Young says, Lacy’s will remain focused on customer service, a fun shopping experience and offer “the foremost in women’s designer fashions with a classic look.”Vail, Colorado