When Amy White noticed a dreadful lack of local boutiques, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Thus, in 1999 she flung open the doors of Fayetteville's one and only Something Urban Boutique. Fifteen years later, Amy decided to put her law degree to use and handed over the boutique keys to her long-time employee, Megan Kelsey.
Megan had worked for Amy since 2005, when she was an apparel student at the University of Arkansas. She understood Amy’s vision, she knew the ins-and-outs of the shop, and she has since carried on the funky legacy of Something Urban Boutique. Megan took a break from her busy day to chat with us about her dreams for Something Urban and two women who have been most influential in her life as a boutique-owner businesswoman.
Did you always picture yourself owning a boutique?
“I’ve actually done this my entire life. My mom started a boutique (her first of three) when I was 12 years old, so she was very supportive of me taking over Something Urban. I always knew I would have a boutique of my own one day, I just didn't think the opportunity would present itself as soon as it did. When Amy offered it, I jumped on it. I figured it was meant to be!”
What are some of your favorite memories or something you learned from watching your mom?
“Growing up, it seemed like I was literally always there. I spent every summer in my mom's store. I think that's where I learned how to really communicate and connect with people. I got to see my mom doing that on a daily basis and it's something I still enjoy to this day.
We get a lot of tourists in the summer and I just love to talk to people, hear their stories, where they're from, what brings them to the area. It's fascinating to me and I think a lot of that was sparked because of my childhood and always meeting new people.
I've always gone on buying trips with my mom, and we actually still do it. And it's really fun that not only am I buying for my store now, but I still get to help her buy for her store in Hot Springs, too.
I also got a great education from my mom on the business side of it. I do everything myself, which I know a lot of boutique owners don't do. It's a lot of responsibility but I do all the buying, the merchandising, I do my accounting, my taxes, everything.
Usually people are drawn to one or the other but I like to do it all. Again, I learned that from my mother growing up. She always said, if you want it done right you've got to do it yourself. It’s a lot of extra work, but in the end it’s worth it because I know that what I’m doing is right.”
Who has been your biggest cheerleader throughout the past few years?
“The previous owner, Amy, has been really great. I could tell she was hesitant and nervous to give her baby over to somebody else. But she's been so helpful and supportive in helping me take it over. If I ever have questions, I can always reach out to her.
She sold it to me, but she’s still involved. And I like that. We always bounce ideas back and forth off each other. She’s constantly encouraging me and making sure that I get to do what I want to do while still maintaining the same feel and vibe that the store has always had.”
You guys have a very humorous, unique style. So that came from Amy?
“Definitely, she's always had a very eclectic, funky style. Both she and I have a very “L.A.” kind of vibe, so we tend to get a lot of our merchandise from that area. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We try to find humor in everything, so we carry a lot of funny tee's and quirky things that a lot of boutiques don't have. And I think that's really what makes us stand out.
Something that we both felt was very important was to be original. When our customers shop here, we want them to feel like they are individuals and they're not just trying to fit into the crowd. That’s why we like to have different things that you can't find anywhere else.
When I took over Amy’s store, really all I did was modernize it a bit. I added the online store and we grew our social media presence. I added to the men’s section. But my main focus this year has been expanding our pet section.”
Do you have a pet yourself?
“Oh my gosh, yes! Gus, my little Pomeranian. He's here every day with me. I rescued him a couple of years ago from a puppy mill type of situation.
I've always been involved with the Humane Society. At one point, my mom had a pet store in Hot Springs and that's how we got involved with the Humane Society down there. We were always rescuing animals, so I've always wanted to do something involving that and animals.
I just launched my own brand new line called 'Basic Bitch.' We have lots of funny pet-inspired tees, and then we donate 10 percent of every shirt we sell to the Humane Society. It’s really taken off. I would love to eventually wholesale it to some other boutiques!”
Is there anything else that’s new or not well-known you guys have?
“Every Thursday we do 'Yappy Hour' for the last two hours that we're open. You come in and shop with your dog, and if you bring your dog, you get special discounts. There's a new discount every week. That’s not very well known right now, but it's always fun!”
So there you have it, folks. Girl power + puppy love at their finest. Follow Something Urban on Facebook to keep up with Yappy Hours, tailgates, and other one-of-a-kind events. And keep the Towny app on hand – insider perks you won't be able to find anywhere else!