Online shopping makes finding the perfect outfit much easier for those who are always on the go. Chelsey Blankenship and Annie Claire Bass, owners of Baton Rouge-based online boutique SoSis Boutique, created their online store with those women in mind. SoSis is one of the few local web-based women’s clothing stores, and it uses blog posts and videos to communicate with its customers. We sat down with the sisters behind SoSis to learn more about their boutique and its upcoming expansion.
1.What is a typical day like for you and your team? Running an online women’s boutique with two other full-time jobs (one for each of us) has been interesting, to say the least. I’m a morning person and Annie Claire is a night owl, which causes our schedules to be a bit different. I manage all aspects of the website–new products, maintenance, customer inquiries, etc.–as well as all marketing efforts. Annie Claire handles merchandising and often finds herself communicating with vendors, researching new trends and designing almost all of our accessories on shopsosis.com. Before the end of this year, what is now our “typical day” will look a little different as we open our very first storefront in Port Allen.
2. What is your professional background? How did you get into the retail field? Annie Claire graduated in fashion merchandising and I, public relations–both from LSU. Our idea with SoSis was to put both of our degrees and experiences together and create a powerful duo for a women’s boutique–one person passionate about buying and providing top-notch customer service, while the other focuses on web design and marketing. Annie Claire and I have always been passionate about two different sides of our business. I get excited to develop a blog strategy, draft a mass email and add new products to the website. Annie Claire is passionate about finding the highest quality clothes at affordable prices. Our interests complement each other when it comes to owning a boutique, and that’s what makes running a business with my sister so much fun.
3. What are the first things customers see when they visit the website? The first thing customers see when they visit shopsosis.com is our fall lookbook featuring all new arrivals. We work hard to produce six lookbooks per year to give our customers (we call them sistas) ideas on how to style our clothes. Shortly after that, you’ll see information about our new storefront opening this year!
4. What sets your online store apart? The fact that we are online! Yes, there are many options of where to shop online, but not many that are locally owned that benefit the Baton Rouge community. For more than two years, we’ve been open as shopsosis.com and we work hard to make the online experience smooth and enjoyable. We also produce great blogs and videos that are relatable to our customers’ lifestyles. Women today are busy juggling so many things. We want to be a resource for inspiring fashion and trends that add fun personality to your wardrobe.
5. What is one thing you think customers should know about your store that they may not be aware of? We’re opening a storefront this November! After two years as an online-only boutique, we are very excited to take this next (big) step. Our new storefront will be located in Port Allen in a brand new shopping center called The Village at Huns Grove. We will be right next door to CC’s Coffee House, which will be bad for our caffeine addiction. Also, some people don’t know we offer all size options, including plus sizes. We are committed to offering trendy, affordable, boutique-style clothes to women of all body types.
6. How do you keep your store’s inventory fresh and up to date? Set a schedule and stick to it. Annie Claire and I learned from the very beginning that when juggling many different businesses, if it’s not on our calendar, it just doesn’t get done. Every Tuesday we release what we call “Fresh Picks, Fresh Cuts.” That basically means we post many new arrivals and markdowns. Because it’s on our schedule, it’s something we don’t even have to think about, we just know what needs to be done and we do it.
8. What was your reason for opening the store? When did it open, and how has it grown or changed since then? From the beginning, Annie Claire’s and my goal was to grow our online business enough to then open a storefront. The thing we didn’t know is when. Annie Claire and her family live in Port Allen. One day, after dropping her oldest daughter off at dance class, she passed by the new shopping center under construction. We both agreed–what could it hurt to call? Well, one thing led to another and here we are! We are opening this November! We are and always will be committed to our online presence and will always offer everything that is in the store online. This is just the next step in our journey together and we are very excited to welcome all you sistas into our doors (or screens).
9. What are a few must-have items this season? Gosh, there are so many we found during market week in Las Vegas this August. I’d say a few of my personal favorites are suede, velvet and jeans with a fringe hem.
10. What are some of your best-selling products? Some of our best sellers are often pieces from our basics collection. We try to carry everyday clothes with a trendy twist like a soft grey tee with a peplum hemline or a sage green sleeveless high-low top with side slits. These everyday essentials sell out so quickly, both online and in person.