Gabrielle Napolitano founded Still Hip in 2007 in Brooklyn, New York.
(article continues below)
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Still Hip is a children's resale boutique. We have used children's clothing, toys, gear and Maternity clothing. Along with that we offer classes and workshops every day!
How did you come up with your business idea?
Another mother and I were talking about being ready to go back to work after being home with our kids. After some brainstorming we decided we wanted to do something that would benefit the community and be a place that our children could enjoy. This led us to the green idea of resale with a space for the community to enjoy classes, workshops and to just play!
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
Yes! It helped us win a prize in the Power Up Business Plan Competition and get a small business micro loan!
Wow, that is impressive! Did you hire anyone to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers …?
We hired a lawyer, but have since found out that we could have gotten one for free. So I would suggest others check out all of their resources first before paying anyone.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
Before we had a storefront we held 'pre-sales' out of my business partner's home. These were great for researching what brands people were interested in, as well as what sizes and gave us a general idea of how to operate our business without the overhead. The only challenge was getting the space back in order for the holidays when Marcie had family staying with her. (smile)
Are you and Marcie still partners?
I am no longer partners with Marcie, but we were, and still are, very close friends. She basically selected me! One day she simply said that we should run a business together because we have such similar energy. And she was right. Although after a year she was ready to move on, she still helps when she can and we are still very good friends. Plus I am happy running the store on my own!
Green business is all the rage right now. Has it really been practical for you as an entrepreneur to incorporate green business practices?
By essence of being a resale shop we are green. But that was actually important to us. Many of the store fixtures are reclaimed, like the shelves from a grocery store that closed down and the doors to the play area were once shutters from the Mohonk Mountain House. I try as best I can to fill the store with quality used items and very few new ones. The new items I carry are often locally made or high quality products that have similar ideas about being green.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
It takes a LOT of time and dedications and is not a big money maker, so be prepared. But when it's good, it's really good.
Thank you Gabrielle for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with our readers!