Lorinda Kain, owners of a local women’s clothing retail, Tru Blue Boutique in St. Clair, MI
Tell us briefly about your business or project...
I’m continually working to create this lovely brick & mortar shop, like those of quaint little downtown areas you find on vacation, where the boutique is an experience in itself, a small get-a-way close to home, with a modern collection of timeless, quality pieces of clothing and gifts.
What inspired you to start your business or project?
At 49, after raising 4 children, 30 years of marriage with my husband, and almost 15 years working in various roles at the nearby high school, I was ready for a change of pace. I had been considering a master’s degree and started taking classes at Wayne State, however that didn’t make the most sense due to my work experience and age. There were also a few applications for marketing positions at Blakes and City Flats Hotel, but I wasn’t having much luck even getting an interview with no experience. I can say I had the educational base: in high school I was in Merchandising, a Technical Education program, followed by an AAS Degree in Fashion Merchandising/Marketing from Macomb Community College, and later my BBS in Marketing from Walsh College)
I’m not going to pretend opening a clothing boutique is something I had my heart set on doing my entire life. I knew very well the level of time and energy required to run a business from my husband’s 30+ years working and operating his manufacturing company. (However, my business is no comparison.) Anyhow, an opportunity with a partner came my way and the idea of opening a clothing shop didn’t seem so far-fetched. One thing led to another and I am now the sole owner of Tru Blue. Sometimes the pieces just fall into place.
What is something people may not know about you and/or your business?
Tru Blue is located in a portion of a former furniture store, Schwark Furniture. My husband and I did a large portion of work on the renovation and build out exposing the balcony. We love that it is a feature of our shop and hope our visitors do too! Some interesting history on the furniture store chain: https://www.retailers.com/news/2015/06/schwark-brothers-create-legacy-scholarship-michigan-retailers-association/
What would you tell someone who is intimidated by or unsure how to start their own business or project?
Gather enough knowledge about your project/endeavor to feel confident. Bite off small pieces. More importantly, just get started! Finally, keep in mind nothing is permanent! Under our recent conditions, I’ve learned to “pivot”. “We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges.”
Name another (ROLE)Model who inspires you...
Linda Hannon, my mom. She is a very content, comfortable in her own skin, matter-of-fact, positive, loving, patient, hard working, knowledgeable, frugal ;), humorous, and strong woman. Maybe these attributes are something that come with age and experience. I would never have completed my bachelor’s degree without her encouragement (or, subtle instance). There are many things she has helped support me in, what many Moms do, but I don’t take it for granted. Anyhow, is her attitude and persistence I admire. Her day-in day-out taking-care-of business attitude, no matter if it is something major or minor. She chips away at things very meticulously with care and warmth, not overly controlled, nor aggressive, hurried or frantic. She doesn’t look back, she just says “What’s next!” I admire her sense of peace, her grace, and her strength.
Tell us an unknown fact, trait or hidden talent you have...
I have jumped out of a plane. My daughter told me her and a friend were going to skydive. I told her I’d come watch, didn’t think much of it (growing up, my dad occasionally did crazy things like that). As it got closer, I asked myself, “Why am I going to watch? I should just do it!” The next day we all did a tandem jump from 14,000 feet on a beautiful September day. It was exhilarating!!! And somehow, I have a few regular clients whom I cut their hair. I’ve always cut hair for various family members and a couple friends. No training what-so-ever. And they keep coming back?!
What are some of your favorite local businesses?
Rail & Anchor, Royal Oak- It’s the kind of shop you can spend a good hour or so just looking at all of their fun and unique things. It is always a special treat to go there!
What is your favorite thing about running your business or pursuing your passion project?
The variety, every day is amazingly different. One of my most memorable days was one where I had helped several women during a time of significance in their lives. The first, was a lady in search of a new outfit for her daughter’s wedding. It was an outdoor wedding, the weather forecast had changed, and she had decided to take along an outfit with slacks. (The pressure of being the mother-of-the bride and looking your best.) Another woman was shopping that day looking for a dress for a funeral. Hospice had come in to care for her mother who had been sick for quite some time. I think she was mentally preparing herself, or maybe it was a brief distraction, if that is even possible. Other ladies had browsed that afternoon, for whatever reason, girls day out, or just stumbled across us by accident. But, the last shopper that stands out in my mind was a new mom, ready to find some post-pregnancy clothing as she started getting her body back. These ladies had come at a time when I was questioning the value and significance of my new position in retail/business ownership. Sometimes it all seems very superficial. That day really helped me understand that our shop has a tiny little impact in a person’’s life, whether it’s just simple retail therapy, or a life event.
Any advice to give another girl or womxn thinking of starting a business or pursuing a passion project?
Have a plan, but know that the plan is going to change, and usually for the better. Be knowledgeable, but remember you don’t know it all. Put together a good team. Be able to confidently rely on other experts so you can focus your talents and energy on what you do best, it is your greatest asset.
Check out https://trublueboutique.com/ and @tru_blue_boutique on Instagram!
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