Twenty-year-old college student Brandy Roark opened Simplicity Boutique at 3539-E Central Ave. in mid-September and has quickly become known for her affordable prices and community aid. She is working on earning a business degree from UALR.
What made you decide to open a boutique?
Brandy Roark: It’s kind of a long story, but I’m only 20 years old and I was in college and I originally started off going to college in town and then I transferred to UALR to finish my business degree. I felt like I was kind of wasting my time in a classroom so I figured that I could be making money while doing classwork, so I take online classes now and do all my work while I sit up here and run a store.
What kind of merchandise do you sell?
BR: I have clothing, so tops, dresses, jeans, pants, shoes, and then I also have some home goods. I’ve only been open a month so I guess this is kind of projected — I do have bath stuff like soap, scrubs, bath grits, which are kind of like bath salts, just a different name. Candles, that kind of thing, but I will also have some furniture, décor, small gifts and little knickknacks. And then my grandfather; I sell some of his jellies and honey and that kind of thing.
What are your best selling items?
BR: I would say cardigans, preparing for the fall. It kind of just depends. I would say cardigans and comfy, loosefitting tees, like the dressier ones. V-necks, slouchy, comfy, cute tops.
What are some of the current fashion trends?
BR: Comfortable, slouchy, and that’s what I go for. I started with targeting my age group but I realized I should be targeting older women, too, because they don’t have anywhere to shop, so I try to hit the teens up to all ages. Comfy, laid back, but dressy. It kind of goes with the name — simple clothing.
What has been the best part of owning your own business so far?
BR: I’m a people person. I do discounts with National Park College and the local schools like Lake Hamilton, Lakeside, and I also do Henderson students. If they have their college IDs I give them all 15 percent off. So I guess I would say helping the community with more affordable clothing, as
long as they have their ID. I coach volleyball, like a traveling volleyball team. I’m really involved in the community so that’s why I target those girls, plus I’m in college so I know it’s hard to spend $40 per item at a normal boutique in town, so my price range is completely different. They’re more $35-55, and I’m like $20-35. The most expensive item would be jeans, and that’s like $55 or so. I try to be way more affordable.
What has been the hardest part?
BR: Being so young. It’s kind of hard knowing the business background of it. My family owns businesses in Hot Springs, as well, so I kind of have a background and more knowledge about it, but definitely the whole aspect of taxes and licenses and things and just not knowing because I’m so young.
Do you have any advice for other young women who want to open a business?
BR: If they have something in mind, to go for it, because it never hurts to try. If you fail, what do you really have to lose? At least you tried. For young women, really, if you have your heart set to something, or your mind set, as long as it’s financially possible, don’t be scared because a lot of women are intimidated. I’ve heard so many stories since I’ve been open about, ‘Oh, I would love to do this but I’m so scared.’ Being a woman, you get intimidated easier because not a lot of women are able to go out and do things on their own and that’s just our culture. I’ve always said to just go out and it’ll never hurt to try.
Where do you see your business in the future?
BR: I changed my major from Business Entrepreneurship and Innovation to just a normal, basic degree now because it really wasn’t worth it for me, because I already kind of knew how to do a lot of things and I didn’t really need the marketing side of it because I’m not looking to work in a huge company or do anything like that; it’s mostly just things on the side, side jobs on my own. I would say this is more of a hobby than anything. I enjoy it, I’m doing it for myself, I’m doing it while I’m in college so if it takes off — I want to have it as long as I can but, really, it’s just to do while I’m in college as a fun little side job. I sit up here, do my classwork and make a few bucks on the side. But if it takes off — I hope it does — then hopefully I can provide and stay open and expand and do a little bit more underneath my name. Right now it’s just Simplicity — I didn’t tie in anything else, it’s just Simplicity so that I could expand in the future if I needed to.