Susan DelPriore is the founder and CEO of Magnolia Boutique, a successful eCommerce clothing business she runs with her husband, Danny. Before starting Magnolia, Susan worked in fashion merchandising for a major apparel brand. She resides in Indiana with her husband, two kids, and her dog, Oreo.
How did the concept for Magnolia Clothing come about?
I always wanted to have my own business and had attempted to return to the workforce after years as a stay-at-home mom. I realized that I was never going to find a job that would give me a flexible schedule and enough money to make it worth having to get child care. I had previous experience in the apparel world so starting a clothing business made perfect sense. The initial idea was to start online and then have a brick and mortar location. The online business was so successful that I never felt the need to have a storefront.
How was the first year in business?
The first year was actually very good. The site launched in May and we were making a profit by July. I was doing everything out of my basement so that helped keep overhead down.
What was your marketing strategy?
Basically, just trying to put the right product in front of the right customer at the right time. We have a mix of email, social media, and online advertising to target our customers at various different levels. One thing we always try to do is show the customer how to wear our clothes so they can visualize how they will look and what they will be doing while wearing a particular outfit.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Very fast. Business increased by 400% during our second year, and by 300% during our third year. I started before the Facebook algorithms kicked in so our Facebook posts were a huge revenue driver in those early years.
How do you define success?
I define success by goals that have been accomplished and how happy you are at the end of the day. A business doesn’t have to make millions to be successful. If you love what you do and are meeting or exceeding your goals for your business, than that is success!
What is the key to success?
Set attainable goals and always have a plan. If you don’t know what you are striving for, then you will not get there.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
I can’t do everything myself. That was a hard one that cost me a lot of time and money. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to be an expert at everything. Many times, it makes more sense to let someone with the proper expertise take over.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Three years ago, I had a web developer talk me into switching platforms and changing our domain name at the same time. It was an absolute nightmare. Nothing worked like it was supposed to, many customers could not access the site, none of our existing links worked, and business was severely affected. The developer was not seeing the same issues on his end and made me think I was losing my mind; it was so frustrating. I honestly thought there was no bouncing back at that point. I made a quick decision to put everything back the way it was and I believe that truly saved the business.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The fact that I have OCD and cannot stop until something is fixed or working the way it is supposed to. My family also keeps me going. Now that my husband has joined me in running this business, it’s all that we have so I need to make sure we can provide for our kids. Our children are also at the age where they are listening to everything and absorbing so much. I want to make sure every decision I make sets a good example for them.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Find your own thing and perfect it instead of copying someone else. There are so many people starting boutiques that think they can do what someone else is doing and be successful. That takes the uniqueness out of a business and your customers will know it.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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