Darcy Musil incorporated her background as a manicurist, esthetician and bra fitting specialist into Two Sisters Boutique, her unique retail business designed for women of all shapes and sizes. Her store provides a custom “one-on-one styling” service to shoppers who prefer suggestions and guidance. Many customers come to the boutique for help obtaining the perfect look for photo shoots such as family portraits and senior pictures. Darcy also offers makeup consultations to provide expert knowledge on skin tone and color match. The retail location in Rice Lake opened in May 2017 with four employees, and the operation has grown to employ seven.
SUCCESS DURING COVID-19
The store is more than just a clothing boutique. It supports local vendors in many ways. Jewelry, soap, lotions, candles and other accessories and gifts created by local artisans are sold in Darcy’s store. When COVID-19 hit, Darcy had to close the storefront location but was able to sustain online sales. She created discounted quarantine packages to continue helping the local vendors who provide goods in her store even though the packages had a very slim profit margin for herself. She also began including small surprise gifts in the online orders at no charge to thank her customers for their continued support during the pandemic.
Another challenge created during the COVID crisis included the high cost of shipping for online sales. Darcy started offering curb side pick-up as a solution. Since makeup consultations had to be put on hold, she created and uploaded lots of fun makeup tutorial videos on the Two Sisters Facebook page. Darcy also added weekly videos to showcase new arrivals at the store since the one-of-a-kind retail offerings change so quickly.
The social message Darcy believes in is obvious. She named the store in honor of her two young daughters, Ava and Rory. She knows the importance of her girls growing up with a positive body image and likes the message that offering a variety of clothing sizes up to 3X provides. The name of the store also reflects Darcy’s own two sisters, Mandy and Ashley. Ashley works in the store as well, providing payroll, human resources and accounting assistance.
Customers truly come first at Two Sisters Boutique. Each year on the anniversary of the store’s opening, a Birthday Bash celebration offers big discounts for the weekend. This sale has been especially successful for Darcy because the first weekend in May coincides with the opening of fishing season in the area and many of the shoppers enjoy their “me” time shopping while partners are away fishing. The shoppers love the fun and fanciful “Bobbing for Savings” promotion.
Two Sisters Boutique promotes many “shopping for a cause” events throughout the year as well. During these events, customers bring in items to donate in exchange for a discount on goods purchased in the boutique. The causes have included local pet rescues, women’s shelters and a backpack program that provides meals to kids when they are not in school. She has participated in coat drives, partnered with local food pantries and aided both Washburn and Barron County Humane Societies.
She even gave back to the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) that helped her refine her business plan, create financial projections and obtain financing for her business. Darcy was working with Dave Armstrong at the Barron County Economic Development Corporation who referred her to Luke Kempen, Center Director at the UW-Eau Claire SBDC back in 2017. Darcy said, “Both men were awesome to work with! Luke was so supportive and responsive to my questions.” When Luke asked her a few years later to talk to his business class, she was thrilled to share her entrepreneurial experience with his students.
All the efforts in community support are sure to bring continued success for Two Sisters Boutique. Darcy looks forward to getting back to her in-person community fundraising events when the COVID crisis settles down and she holds on to her dream of owning her own retail space in the future.
Accomplishments with UW-Eau Claire SBDC
- Financial projections
- Business plan