July 14, 2024

Kristen Leiker focused on building a community to grow her clothing business.
“I think people tend to shop with who they trust and who they connect with,” she said. “I connect with my customers on a genuine level.”
Her business, EllaRose Boutique, started three and a half years ago as an online business. She opened her storefront in July at 9630 Transit Road, East Amherst, and hired her first two employees.
Since it was founded, the boutique has grossed about $1.3 million in online sales, as of last week, and the storefront did roughly $39,000 in gross sales from late July through mid-September.
The local retailer has made online sales via her own app, website and Facebook Live. Leiker previously ran a shop affiliated with a multilevel marketing clothing business, giving her a total of nearly eight years of experience in the industry.
She started a VIP Facebook group to create an online community for her customers.
“The key to success is creating this community,” she said. “Mine is a community of women, but really whatever your customer base is that will uplift each other. It’s just trust.”
She’ll use the Facebook group to occasionally give sneak peeks into live shows, and some shoppers will share pictures wearing the boutique’s clothes, but it’s not a group geared toward making sales, she added.
She stays connected with her client base, estimates she’s friends with at least 800 of her Facebook customers and answers messages all hours of the day.
“Everyone has their own way of going about it,” she said. “I just feel like I have a personal enough relationship with them that I don’t mind going above and beyond.”
She carries that practice into her storefront, which has about 750 square feet of shopping space. The store has dressing rooms and purchases are put in gift bag totes. When customers upload themselves posing on the flowered selfie wall, she makes sure to comment on their posts.
“I think customer service is huge,” she said. “Getting to know them personally is really kind of what will lead a small business.”
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