Passion is one of the key ingredients to being a successful entrepreneur.
For Courtney Mair and Danielle Sinclair it was the shared love of fashion that led them to start Swanky Chic Boutique, an online shopping site three years ago that they have run from their homes.
“We both always wanted to start a boutique,” Sinclair says.
Now, they have a physical store in Keller that will have its grand opening on Nov. 12, at 241 S. Main St.
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Fellow entrepreneur Brad Trapnell started his first What’s On Tap beer café two years ago in Highland Village because of his love for craft beers. Now, he’s opening his second location in October at 201 Town Center Lane Suite 1107, near the FnG Eats.
Both businesses are examples of entrepreneurs who have a passion for what they do, and both have found Keller to be a good place to build on their dreams.
Mair and Sinclair cater to a clientele from ages in the mid-20s to their 60s. Their motto is, “friends don’t let their friends pay retail.” Those “friends” are a group of roughly 28,000 VIP clients they’ve acquired through the use of a Facebook “group,” where customers can view their fashions and place their orders.
Sinclair, who studied fashion marketing in college, said the business started late one night as she was sitting up with her newborn. She called Mair and said, “We should start selling clothes online.”
Within weeks, the friends had taken care of everything they needed to open their business via a Facebook page.
Facebook eventually changed its rules, and they saw a drop in business from that page.
That’s when they formed the Facebook group and business began soaring.
“Next thing you know, we had 28,000 on that group,” Mair says.
Success meant late nights taking and fulfilling orders online and then shipping them from a room that used to be the family play room.
Mair and Sinclair both credited the support of their husbands and children for helping with their success.
How successful? By their second year, the women had sales of roughly $15,000 and in the third year, sales rose to about $25,000.
Forming the Facebook group was the key. This year, Mair and Sinclair expect to have sales of close to $600,000, while averaging roughly 3,600 transactions a month.
They see the physical store as a logical progression of their business, and plan to keep the Facebook presence. The team is also working on launching an e-commerce website.
Business in the Brew
Not far away from their Swanky Chic Boutique location, Trapnell is hard at work finishing his What’s On Tap beer café.
Trapnell entered the retail world after a long career in the mortgage servicing industry.
“I spent 15 years in the corporate world, and this is my first entrepreneurial foray,” Trapnell says. “I had a passion for beer, but I approached it from an analytical standpoint, and thought it would be a viable business.”
Though he’s glad he switched careers, Trapnell says being an entrepreneur isn’t easy for several reasons. However, it is a lifestyle with rewards of its own.
What’s the biggest reward? “The thrill of starting something and running with it,” Trapnell says.
He advises new entrepreneurs to consider, “Is the timing right for whatever it is you’re planning on doing?”
What’s the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?
“The stress of the unknown;, how is this going to work out?” he says.
What’s an entrepreneur’s most valuable quality?
“Perseverance, above all,” he says.
Trapnell says that beginning entrepreneurs also have to worry about financing.
“You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for every dollar you can find,” he says.
Trapnell admits that, “I came into this on a wing and prayer,” but he did his homework about locating in Keller. He took a concept that had succeeded in downtown areas and has made it work in a suburban setting.
He asked himself, “Is there an existing business or service in this area?”
His conclusion was that Keller was ripe for a business such as his.
What’s On Tap will have 40 taps for craft beers, ciders, nitro, and even root beer.
Trapnell believes he’ll have the same success in Keller that he has had in Highland Village.
“I was fortunate,” he says. “From the day we opened the door, we had a great demand.”
Entrepreneurs of the Future
While Mair, Sinclair and Trapnell are examples of the current crop of entrepreneurs in Keller, where will the next generation of business-builders come from?
The Keller Independent School District might have the answer.
The district offers the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, a nationally recognized offering that prepares students for the rigors of the global business environment and the entrepreneurial world.
The curriculum includes classes on entrepreneurship, business management, accounting, technology and business information.
“We allow these kids to pick certain pathways,” says Robert W. Wright, CET coordinator for the district. “It’s a very collaborative process.”
The program, which Wright says has a couple hundred students, begins in the ninth grade with principals of business and finance, Wright says, and then the students are able to specialize in their individual areas of interest.
“The greatest thing about a CTE education is that they can see their own destiny,” Wright says.
Wright has owned several businesses and he said that CTE helps the students learn some of the lessons he’s learned in business.
“As an entrepreneur and business owner, you learn to overcome obstacles,” he said. “You have to be able to change with the times and provide good customer service or it doesn’t matter how good your product is.”
Part of the CTE education is the opportunity to participate in competitions sponsored by the Future Business Leaders of America.
Timber Creek students Andrew Bau, Harrison Glave, and Will Cordes won first-place honors at the FBLA regional competition, third at state, and they received national recognition by finishing eighth in the Computer Game & Simulation Programming competition at the FBLA Awards of Excellence Program at FBLA’s National Leadership Conference June 29–July 2 in Atlanta.
The students had to show their skills in computer programming by developing a computer game based on pre-set guidelines.
The KISD students were among the more than 12,500 high school students who attended the event from all across the nation.
The event featured more than 65 business and business-related competitive events for the opportunity to win cash prizes.
Glave says the CTE experience was beneficial, and he recommends other KISD students take part.
“I think a person should take at least one biz course in their life because nowadays everything is about business,” says Glave, 18, who graduated in May.
He says CTE is also a good way for students to network.
“Business is pretty much networking,” says Glave, who plans on attending a community college to study computer science.
The students learn the kinds of lessons that Trapnell says are essential for any entrepreneur:
· Plan for the best and the worst scenarios
· It’s passion that gets you across the finish line
Trapnell puts being an entrepreneur this way: “Is what you’re doing something you’re willing to bleed for?”