Meet Sara // Entrepreneur and Boutique Owner

meet Sara, no 'H'. owner of the Modern Emporium and bad ass female entrepreneur. check out her story below, how she became an entrepreneur and what inspires her.

I’m originally from Michigan although I knew I wanted out of there when I was a kid. 😂. So right after college I moved to Los Angeles and lived the most amazing life there for 16 years. In July, I moved to Dallas because my husbands entire company relocated. We’re adjusting. In some ways it’s exciting to be in a new place and able to explore new things. But we also miss everything we lived in LA that Dallas doesn’t offer. It’s been a challenge but we’re trying to be open minded about the Big D.

Well, I honestly wouldn’t have told you 10 years ago that I would own my own business. It was always in the back of my mind but I never thought I’d actually do it. I actually purchased the domain name Modern Emporium back in 1998 because I wanted to open a store someday. But you know those “somedays” that you think will never come or will be so far off.

I finished college with my BA in Social Work. Then once in California, I got a Masters in Educational counseling and eventually a Masters in Clinical Psychology. I worked in a variety of counseling/social work/ psychology jobs. I loved them all but they were stressful and took a lot of my time, often weekends too. I worked in south central and watts. I worked with the LA Sheriffs Dept in Compton in the Gang Unit for several years. I saw and heard a lot, abuse, homicides, suicides, ect. It was a sad job but also rewarding.

I eventually took a job as a school counselor in Watts (a high gang population area). I worked as a school counselor for 6 years. I loved my job. Again it was stressful and overwhelming and sad at times. But I did enjoy it although I had constant knots in my back, an ongoing headache and had a hard time sleeping.

In LAUSD every spring, the district handed out pink slips (layoff slips). We knew they were coming, they came every year but mine was always rescinded and I never had been laid off.

Well this year, they decided to lay off counselors over teachers so myself and 100’s of other counselors were laid off. My principal told me not to worry that there was no way he would let me get laid off. I knew he ultimately had no control over that. We were just numbers in such a huge district and it was solely based on seniority.

I was laid off. I was devastated. I thought I’d be rescinded like every year before. I cried my last day (and I’m not a crier). I was totally lost. I was a counselor. That was my identity. That’s who I was. What was I going to do?! I knew there was a chance I might get called bs k in the fall so my husband said to just wait the summer out.

We went to go meet friends at a wine bar and walked by an open retail space. We talked afterwards about our store we always talked about opening. We called the next day just to see how much it was. We happened to know the property manager and he told us that the space already had 7 applications on it and that they had already selected someone but they hadn’t told them yet.

The property manager said he’d give us 24 hours to get in our application. I was like forget it. My husband encouraged me to just do a business plan and fill out the application. That way we’d have it for the future. So I said ok. 

In 24 hours I wrote a business plan. My husband helped with getting the financial paperwork together and we were able to turn in our application within 24 hours. I had no idea how to run a boutique. And I knew there was no chance we’d get the place but the thought of the possibility made me excited.

The next day we were notified that the owners selected me. What?!?! I was in shock! I wrote a letter with my application basically saying what I just said to you above and the owner had a similar story to me. So she picked me. I was suddenly a boutique owner. No plans on this a week prior. I’m all about the money so I wasn’t about to waste time.

I hit the road running, sprinting really. I researched a ton! Placed orders. Got my brother to help me paint and set up the space and we opened within 7 days! Yes 7 days!!! I was on a mission and I was gonna make this happen and fast! So on June 7, Modern Emporium was opened. Sorry I know that was a really long story to get to this part. ;)

this cute jacket can be found on the modern emporium site

I was lucky to be in a great neighborhood with other small businesses. I met some great business owners and we were able to help each other and collaborate. I’m all about small business and try to spend my money with them as much as possible. Small business owners work their butts off!!

My biggest challenges we’re finding employees that I could count on. I did finally find some amazing girls to work with me but it took some time. I’m naturally a people pleaser so I had to figure out how to be a boss. I had supervised people in a counseling capacity but never in my own business. It was much different. I eventually figured it out with a lot of trial and error. But I feel so lucky to have found some amazing girls.

Go For It!!! I know so many people who say they wish this or they would do this but they can’t. Yes you can! You can do anything you put your mind to. It takes hard work and dedication but you can do it. Life is short! Do what makes you happy! 😀

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