Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Sara Puppi, Owner and Operator of Toronto’s Poor Little Rich Girl boutique. Not a fan of routine, and someone who thrives on unpredictability, here’s why launching a business has always been in her blood…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I own and operate a clothing boutique in central Toronto. I handle the buying every season, administrative duties, visual merchandising and social media marketing, among other daily tasks. I also believe it is very important to be on the sales floor, interacting with customers – it helps me stay in tune to what people like/dislike, what they are buying; requesting determines what I buy every season. Cultivating personal relationships and creating a friendly and welcoming environment for customers is what keeps them coming back. Staying connected to your customer is crucial to success in this business.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
After working in a boutique environment for many years, it taught me the mechanics of running a business. After finishing university, I knew it was time for me to do my own thing. It was the natural progression to open up my own shop.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is interacting with customers, buying and travelling. As for the most challenging part, this business is a revolving door of change and it requires you to stay on top of your game. Fashion is an ever-changing and unpredictable industry. Being able to think quickly and adapt to change is the most crucial skill. I absolutely hate routine, I thrive on unpredictability; it keeps me on my toes.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Owning your own business requires your attention 24/7. “Days off” often mean running errands, answering emails, going to appointments, thinking of marketing strategies… and the list goes on! There’s no such thing as “sick days” – if you can’t get the work done, no one else will. You and the success of your business depend on your own motivation.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years from now I would love to open a second location and keep growing. Expansion is my ultimate goal. I would love to tap into different areas of the city, as clientele can be so different depending on the area.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The start up process was definitely a challenge as nothing can really prepare you for the unexpected hurtles of opening a business – ‘fake it til you make it’ was my motto.
Finding great staff is the backbone to this business, especially since a small group relies so much on each other. Hiring staff in a boutique environment can be such a risk, as you must learn to trust your staff with your business. Letting go of complete control and trusting others with your business is a major challenge.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success is doing what you love and feeling fulfilled, regardless of how much money you make. Actually, sometimes more money results in unhappiness. As long as I leave my mark in this industry, I’ll be happy.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I have just hit my five-year mark and I can’t believe it! I don’t know where all the time has gone.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
“Follow your dreams or you’ll spend the rest of your life working for someone who did.”
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Sooooo many amazing restaurants in this city! But right now my neighbourhood restaurant, “Gusto,” is my favourite. Great food, great vibe, and the rooftop patio is perfect on summer nights.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Yoga, enjoying electronic music, travelling, meeting new people, making jewellery (esp. men’s jewellery, coming soon to PLRG) and scoping new designers and brands for the store.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Italy. My father’s cultural roots… the food, people, language, culture –perfection.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Kate Bush, Running up that Hill.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Psychoanalyzing someone somewhere… the human mind fascinates me.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
PLRG supports an organization named Project Corsage that helps disadvantaged prom students get outfitted to go to prom so that they don’t miss out on the experience. It’s such a great organization and one very special to me.
What to you is notable?
Notable is a city full of events and social media forums that allow young professionals to come together to network and be inspired by one another.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone all the way.
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