WomenVenture Entrepreneur of the Month for July
Growing up with entrepreneurial parents, Kristine Haas always knew she wanted to open a business. With a marketing degree and years of corporate sales experience, she yearned to venture out on her own. Possessing a passion for shopping and fashion, she started researching the idea of an online store carrying cute shoes with shorter heels than one could typically find in a store.
Kristine wanted help writing a business plan and heard about WomenVenture from a friend. When taking a WomenVenture class, her idea transformed from an online shoe store to a brick-and-mortar shop carrying all sorts of women’s fashion items. Yet even with a finished business plan, she felt fearful and not ready to open her own business, so she put her dream on the back burner.
A couple years after Kristine stopped planning what would be a life-changing decision, she began her quest all over again. As the mother of a child with Down syndrome, she wanted the flexibility that being an entrepreneur could offer. Through online research she learned about franchises and liked the support they could provide. She discovered Apricot Lane Boutique and looked at it with heavy consideration. After phone conversations and meeting other Apricot Lane Boutique franchise owners, Kristine decided it was the direction she wanted to go. She returned to WomenVenture and worked with a business consultant to tweak her business plan and get financial advice.
Owning an Apricot Lane Boutique franchise required Kristine to interview, receive training and classroom instruction, get certifications, meet financial requirements and fly out to its corporate office in California. She received bank funding and started looking at locations for her store. “Picking the location was the hardest piece of opening the business,” she said. “As a franchisee, Apricot Lane provided support that helped guide me when looking at multiple locations, rent, foot traffic and competition.” One year after deciding to franchise with Apricot Lane Boutique, Kristine was ready to open.
Launched in 2012, Apricot Lane Boutique is a women’s clothing store carrying a stylish and affordable selection of clothing, accessories and gifts. Kristine is able to buy what she wants to carry in the store and create her own style for her customers. “It is very rewarding developing loyal customers who keep coming back,” she said.
After only one year in business, Kristine decided to open a second location. Now with two stores in St. Louis Park and Mendota Heights, she owns half of the Apricot Lane Boutique franchises in Minnesota. “I’m very proud to say I own two stores,” she said. “My employees do so much to make it successful–it’s not just me.”
Kristine hopes to continue to grow the sales at both locations and possibly open more locations in the future. She utilizes social media, direct mail, partnerships with other businesses, fundraising parties and group events to attract new business and keep people coming through her doors. “I’m not where I want to be yet, but it’s been a personal success of opening a business–especially more than one store,” she said.
“My experience with WomenVenture was great. The class instructor had personal hands-on experience and was knowledgeable about my market. The business consultant gave financial insight and helped me to focus. They were the only women-centric organization I turned to and I recommend other women engage with them as well.”
For more info on Kristine’s business, Apricot Lane Boutique, visit www.apricotlaneboutique.com/store/stlouispark