Opening Rain Boutique, a shop featuring refreshingly wearable clothing with a sprinkling of unique gifts and housewares, took a lot of guidance. That was when Kristin Mouton turned to the Larimer County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for practical advice.
“My counselor at SBDC really kept me going and gave me a lot of reassurance, even after I had been turned down by two banks for a business loan,” said Mouton.
Mouton started with an idea and a name – Rain Boutique – first visualized while enjoying a summer shower. When a few of her favorite shops in Old Town Fort Collins closed, she started traveling to Flatiron Crossing in Broomfield to shop at stores that suited her style. While speaking to shop owners at the mall, Mouton learned that close to 40 percent of patrons at Flatiron Crossing were also traveling from northern Colorado for the same reasons.
Mouton took several classes at the SBDC, including Know Thy Numbers: Basic Bookkeeping; So You Want to Start a Business; I Need Financing, What Now?; and Credit Card Processing. Then she started working with Andrea Grant, her counselor, to build her business plan, find a location, secure financing and procure inventory.
Mouton came back from her first buyers’ fair so excited about the merchandise she saw but a little overwhelmed as well – there were 3,500 different brands and suppliers with many products not available in Fort Collins. Within a few days of returning from New York, Mouton received loan approval. She was on her way to achieving her dreams.
“Once I found the right space, I started working on store layouts, finalizing inventory and renovating the space,” said Mouton. “I found going to buy apparel complete madness, especially when I had to stick to a budget, but it was so much fun to finally see it all come together.”
Overall, Mouton says that having a great support system – through friends, family and the SBDC – really made a big difference.