We recently had the chance to interview founder and CEO of Apricot Lane Boutique, Ken Petersen. Founded in 2007, Apricot Lane Boutique is the only specialty retail franchise offering branded fashion apparel, jewelry, handbags, accessories and gifts in unique styles and trends. Today, there are more than 75 franchises in operation with plans to welcome 15-20 stores to the Apricot Lane family each year.
Petersen shares with us the secrets to his franchise’s success and offers advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
What’s special about the Apricot Lane Boutique franchise?
It has a broad appeal to both mothers and daughters. We allow our franchisee to buy new products without franchisor prior approval. That flexibility is atypical in a franchise system and has become our strength. We have buyers all over the country, they are called ‘franchisees’ and together we cover all the fashion markets to find unique, on trend products for our stores.
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What is the idea behind the franchise?
Apricot Lane Boutique is the only specialty retail boutique company that offers trend-setting fashion apparel, jewelry, handbags, accessories and gifts in the styles and fast fashion arrivals customers look for. It’s the kind of brand that appeals to consumers but also to those looking to get involved from the business ownership side as well. The franchise can easily be looked at as one of the most ‘flexible franchises’ out there allowing franchisees to do their own buying, promotions and more!
How does it compare to its competition?
Apricot Lane really set the path for retail franchises offering fashion, accessories, gift items and more.
Who is the intended target demographic?
Apricot Lane Boutique’s target demographic is mothers and daughters. We like to say teens through 50s. There are styles offered in the store for many ages to fit each individual’s unique tastes.
Where do you see it in five years?
We are growing at a rate of 20-25 stores per year, which will put us at about 200 stores nationwide.
Who’s behind it? (Tell us more about you.)
A retired Fire Captain turned serial entrepreneur who is passionate about franchising and providing the infrastructure and support to help people succeed in business. I started a non-profit to fight against sex-trafficking called 3StrandsGlobal.com. I was so proud of our franchisees for agreeing to support such an evil and complicated cause.
Can you describe a typical day of a franchisee?
We can let a franchisee answer this as well but typically a day starts with opening their store, staffing accordingly, making social media posts to start generating interest to come in and see the latest arrivals, new in-store promos and more. Once a franchisee is on the floor they are doing as much of the personal styling, personal shopping and offering friendly customer service experiences. Other times the owners are in the back ordering, running their books and keeping up with their marketing and creative needs.
What’s your background?
I’ve been in retail since the early 80s and have been franchising for the past 22 years.
What motivates you to keep going?
It’s the people that keep me going. I enjoy being a CEO and casting a vision and seeing it come to fruition. My job is to cast a vision, hire the talent that fuels execution and develop the culture.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Franchising is really a distribution system to move product. I think if I were to start over, I would make sure I owned a piece of the products that flow through the franchise.
Please tell us your secret to success…
Always do the right thing. Integrity can be expensive. Be more about making a difference than making money, and if you do, the money will most likely follow.
Anything else you think I should know or ask you about?
In just a few years, Apricot Lane has managed to partner with celebrity names, assisted in creating exclusive product lines and has been featured in publications and on national TV! Providing exposure in these ways really helps the franchisees be part of a franchise leading the path in the industry.
Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
It’s all about cash flow! Make sure you have adequate cash flow before you cross that entrepreneurial bridge.
What’s your website where people can find out more about Apricot Lane Boutique?
Where can people find your Apricot Lane Boutique on social media?