You know when you hear about a new startup and you think to yourself “This makes perfect sense. Why didn’t I think of that?” This is how we feel about Boutikey. The app and website, launched by Boston-based Tiana Haraguchi, gives brick-and-mortar fashion boutiques a way to sell online, and all in one place. See? It’s simple, and it’s brilliant. We got a chance to chat with Tiana about where the idea for the site came from, how she transitioned from her corporate job, her best career advice, and more.
WHAT IS BOUTIKEY?
The Boutikey platform provides fashion boutiques with a simple web and mobile based solution to sell online, and enables a more profitable and less time consuming alternative on how they can get rid of excess inventory. We launched this past February as a mobile app that connects boutiques owners and their customers on a deeper level through rewards and sales. We’ve recently extended the company to include an e-commerce marketplace that sells cutting edge trends from an inventory of local fashion boutiques. Now our customers can shop trends from their favorite boutiques from the comfort of their home!
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE SITE COME FROM?
I originally came up with the idea for Boutikey after a shopping experience I had at one of the Boston boutiques. I had made a big purchase that day, and was bummed that there was no additional reward or incentive for spending a certain amount of dollars. I also learned about a sale after checking out, which may have influenced by purchase. I started thinking that it would be helpful if there was a digital platform that helped connect boutiques and their customers on a deeper level, and hence Boutikey was formed.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU STARTED BOUTIKEY?
I worked corporate finance, as well as did management and marketing consulting for a chain of entertainment arcades.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO PURUSE THE SITE FULL TIME?
After doing some more research and talking to multiple boutiques in the Boston area, I came to find out that 80% of fashion boutiques fail within the first five years of opening, and therefore was a huge need in the market for a platform like Boutikey. When it comes to start-ups, you have to go all in and give it your all if you want to build something really great. The risks are huge, but the potential reward makes it worth it.
WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Finding enough hours in the day! When you own your own business you are in charge of every department- management, marketing, finance, accounting, sales, etc. Being able to multi-task and staying organized is the key to success when it comes to juggling different roles.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART?
The best part is seeing your hard work pay off and notice the changes you are able to make in your field or industry. I also love being my own boss, and teaching my employees and interns new things.
YOU’RE JUST ABOUT TO SOFT-LAUNCH THE SITE, BUT YOU’VE BEEN WORKING ON IT FOR A WHILE. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO GO FROM AN IDEA TO A REALITY?
About four months! We brainstormed the idea for Boutikey’s e-commerce platform a few months ago, but it took awhile to finalize the business model, sign up the pilot stores, and make sure the design and imagery of the website was perfect.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS PLANNED FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Having set goals and set deadlines is very important. This way when things don’t go as planned, I know I have to regroup and figure out a way to reach the end result I originally intended for. When I have an image in my head of how things are supposed to turn out, I’m constantly motivated to do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal.
WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE FROM LOCAL BOUTIQUES?
Very positive! We were able to sign on over 70 stores for the app, and our first five pilot stores for the e-commerce site. We have a growing list of boutiques who are interested in selling on the Boutikey platform, so we’re very excited!
YOU’RE IN BOSTON NOW–DO YOU PLAN TO EXPAND TO OTHER CITIES?
Absolutely. We plan on expanding to other cities beginning next month. We ultimately want to sell cutting edge trends from an inventory of fashion boutiques from all over the country.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREERS ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN?
Find a career that you love and be the best at it that you can be. So much of a person’s life is made up of the time they spend working, so it’s a shame to do a job you aren’t passionate about or that doesn’t make you happy. It’s not always easy to figure out what that career may be, but when you do it’s very enlightening. It takes hard work and dedication to get there, but the end result is worth it!