Susie Kizer dreamt about opening a women’s clothing boutique from the time she was a young girl. Growing up experiencing her grandmother’s own Texas shop in the early 70’s, Faye’s Fabulous Formals, ignited Susie’s passion for fashion. “My grandmother was a savvy business woman, well ahead of her time.” Nearly 30 years later, with two daughters and a husband pushing her to make the leap, her dream is a successful reality at Fabulous Fashions, a hip women’s clothing boutique at The Shoppes at Grayhawk in Omaha, Nebraska.
“We’ve been open 9 months, and we’re hitting our target projections. But I always want to do more, and we’re looking at new ways to bring in traffic,” said Kizer from a well-deserved vacation with her husband and 4 grown children during the holidays. Generally, you’ll find Kizer and her friendly team engaged with shoppers in the store; hearing about their latest fashion finds, pulling together outfits and hunting down the perfect pair of jeans. “I always wanted to create a place for contemporary, on-trend women’s apparel, and I love everything we offer. If I wouldn’t wear it, it’s not in the shop.”
The shop also features a strong website, which draws more sales. “We were excited when the internet business picked up almost immediately,” remarked Kizer. “We worked with an SEO group, and they were surprised how strong our site traffic and sales were. That’s working well.”
Kizer and her team focus heavily on customer service. “Nordstrom has always been my benchmark for service,” she says. “We are diligent about making sure we know what’s on the store floor, and what pieces works together. I have assembled a group of great manufacturers and am constantly working to create strong relationships with my reps, so that when I need something, they are able to make it happen for us. Just before Christmas, a regular customer came in and was disappointed that we had sold out of a scarf she wanted to wear for the holiday. I got on the phone with my rep, located the scarf, paid $50 to ship it to the store, and got it to my customer just before Christmas. She was so happy, which was a wonderful reward. But on Christmas Eve, her husband came in and spent $1,000 on a gift card. That was a gift in itself!” Unexpected as that was, Kizer and her team do similar things every week simply because at Fabulous Fashions, that’s the right thing to do.
“We’ve created a culture of service. The fashions are great, but what the staff and I bring is the personal perspective… we get to know our shoppers, and can help them select pieces that they’ll love,” Kizer comments. “We haven’t been open a year yet, but as a sales team in the shop we’re all on the same page and everyone feels a sense of ownership to help customers. It’s really rewarding to see the staff develop, too.”
Where do Kizer and her marketing team (led by daughters Faith and Maria) find new ideas? “My daughter uses Instagram to track trends, and she’s always sending me new ideas she’s found,” Kizer says. “I watch Facebook, some national websites and I check out European fashion, plus local fashion leaders to ensure I know this market. The buying markets and trade shows help me stay current on trends, too.”
What’s the first order of business when Kizer returns from her holiday vacation? “I’ll be revisiting the business plan to compare actual sales vs. projections, right after I give a big hug to everyone on the team,” she says. “I’m chomping at the bit to get back to work, and I want to explore some new marketing initiatives. This experience is fun, rewarding and a responsibility that I take very seriously. This is not a hobby for me.”
Obviously not a hobby, as evidenced by the shop’s moniker, Fabulous Fashions, honoring Kizer’s mentor and inspiration, her grandmother Faye. Fabulous Fashions has made its mark on Omaha.