We had the good fortune of connecting with Uylee Dennis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Uylee, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always had an entrepreneur’s mind since I was a child. As a youngster I sold popsicles and candy from my home during the summer months. And during the school months, I attempted sell and make my own brand of women’s perfume. The perfume didn’t sell, however I was still a hard working nine-year old that gave it a try! I have a strong drive to create and watch something grow from where nothing once stood. So when the opportunity arose to finally start my own business, I knew it was a taking a leap, but it was what I’ve always wanted to do in my heart. So I jumped in and I’ve never regretted it, nor have I ever looked back.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Our little Shop began as a hobby to clear things out of my closet, as well as the closets of friends. I never expected it to grow as it has. But seven and a half years later, we’re still having fun cleaning closets! We sell brand new and gently used clothing and accessories for the entire family. Our specialty in the beginning were vintage and retro inspired dresses for the ladies, and silk hand tailored coordinating tie sets for the men. However, now our list of assets have grown and we provide clothing and accessories for the entire family of all sorts of items.
One thing that sets us apart from other Boutiques is that we carry a wide array of sizes. Beauty comes in all beautiful sizes, shapes and curves. Hence, we carry our clothing between a US size zero to a US size thirty-two. And if a young lady requires a size larger than a thirty-two and she contacts our Shop directly, we will work with her to try to obtain her desired item in her desired size. We have dressed up young ladies for their interviews, as well as their wedding day. And it always feels so wonderful when they send us a photo of themselves wearing their dress along with a “thank you”. Nothing makes me feel as ecstatic as seeing our Customers’ events turn out successful and hearing that our dress made them feel beautiful on an important occasion! I’m all smiles and I feel like “that was a successful one!”
Was it easy getting to where I am today business-wise? No indeed! It took a lot of late nights with no sleep, and many early mornings with lots of coffee to build our business. Starting anything new is hard and takes dedication and hard work. Starting a business takes all of that plus more. Of course, money is always a challenge with start-up. You must have money to earn money. This required using my own savings and resources, obtaining grants, and even taking on a business loan. I also needed to learn all of the laws and regulations with starting a new business. Should I run it as a sole proprietor vs an LLC, and what’s the difference tax-wise? Should I pay for an EIN and Seller’s Permit, or are these items free? I had to do a lot of research into everything to get clear understandings of so many topics to be able to legally run my business, and to understand all of the legalities for myself. I signed up for any business course that I thought could teach me something. I attended every Small Business Educational event offered, and in time I learned all the things I didn’t understand. And one thing I learned during all that is that there’s always someone out there happily trying to sell you a “free” service. And if you don’t take the time to do your own homework and do your own research, you’ll find yourself being ripe for business scammers and losing a lot of money. I still see websites offering to help you obtain your EIN for a payment. However anyone can go to the IRS’ website and obtain their EIN for free in about five minutes. So always do your homework.
I get excited when I come across someone looking to start their own business. I try to pass my knowledge onto other new business owners. If I can somehow assist them from my experiences, I want to pass on that knowledge so that they don’t need to make the same mistakes I’ve made. Many wonder why would I assist my own competition. I don’t see it as assisting my competitors. With me, it’s cooperation over competition. There are enough people on the planet for all of us to share. We need to support and build up one another. That’s how we will all succeed. I truly believe in that, and I will continue to take in knowledge, and I will continue to share that knowledge with those brand new in this business. We all need a helping hand getting started. We all need support in the beginning, and I will continue to provide that to my new peers. I would have loved that in my early days!
And my Customers are simply the best! Never in my dreams did I ever imagine we’d have Customers in Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Sweden, London, Italy, and others! We have truly been blessed in the area of Customer Support. I’m so grateful to my Customers.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Depending on what you’re in the mood for, we would start with either Jamaican or Mexican food for dinner! My husband is Jamaican, and he can guarantee the best Jamaican food in our town is the Dubplate Kitchen and Jamaican Cuisine. It is absolutely amazing authentic food. From Jerk chicken to Ox Tail, it’s all there. However if you’re in the mood for Mexican food, no one can top El Novillero. I have never seen a person finish their portion while having dinner at this amazing place. You can have dinner here, or you can have drinks. The atmosphere feels like you’re in a Spanish Square. It’s truly beautiful.
One of the beauties about our area is that we still have the old time drive-in movie theatre. These are still fun for those that would like to enjoy an evening of a movie while enjoying a bit of nostalgia. There’s nothing like finding that perfect spot to park in, and cranking up the sound and relaxing to your flick!
And we are only an hour and half away from the beaches. I love a day by the ocean to relax. You can’t beat a day by the Pacific Ocean relaxing on one of our many coastal areas along the bay.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband Patrick has been the heart and lungs of my business. Without his love and support, my business would never exist. In the beginning, he helped to get things going financially, and he jumped in to assist me with setting up my store physically. When I was at home one day upset about the cost of mannequins for my small start-up store, I looked up and my husband entered the door with at least eight mannequins! He had gone from store to store in our neighborhood mall to find stores that had mannequins they were no longer using and perhaps placed in their storage. I couldn’t believe it! I was in tears that he had done this for me. I now had my very first mannequins for my new store! And it never stopped from there. To this day he is my shipping assistant. Each evening I put all of my customer packages together and leave them on the kitchen island. When my husband wakes for work at 5:00 am, he takes the packages, sorts them in his preferred perfect order, and stacks them in his truck. On his way to work he takes all of my packages to the post office, then he goes to start his work day. And on his way home from work, he stops at the post office once again to check my business post box each day. He’s amazing!
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