I recently had the opportunity to virtually "sit down" with Brooke and learn a little bit more about her, the inspiration for her boutique, her passions, and what it's really like to be a small business owner. One thing is for sure: Brooke is a motivating force and is changing the way women in Gainesville and beyond shop and dress...for the better!
Catie: Did you have a career prior to starting Addison MacKenzie Boutique (AMB)? If so, what did you do?
Brooke: Prior to starting AMB I taught school. I taught third grade, and then was the curriculum resource teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary School. My masters is in educational leadership and I loved making a difference in children’s lives. I am thankful that I am still able to tutor children and run AMB because it still allows me the opportunity to work with children on a daily basis.
C: Why did you decide to start AMB? What was your motivation?
B: Growing up, my mom and dad were always there for me. No matter what activity I had, presentation, etc. they were both there. They always drove me to school, picked me up, packed my lunch, had family dinners...the list goes on. I want to be able to provide that for my boys. I want to be able to be there for them no matter what. If their school needs a volunteer, I want to be able to go. By starting AMB, I now have the flexibility of being there more for my children. Granted, I am way more exhausted because I work longer hours and work mostly when the boys are asleep and when they are at school. But, this opportunity has changed our family. I look forward to the years to come. I also had a strong desire to help women find clothes that are affordable and available conveniently online. With children, it is difficult to go to the mall or a brick and mortar store. With easy access to cute affordable clothes that are easy to shop for, I hope I am bringing smiles to many women’s faces. I've been working hard to curate styles that are perfect for ever facet of your life. From casual family activities, date nights and special occasions, and work appropriate styles.
C: What have you found to be the most exciting about the fashion industry? What is the most challenging?
B: I think the most exciting thing about the fashion industry is getting to know your customers. I love to connect with people so that has been a rewarding highlight. It goes beyond the garments. I love the fact that my customers trust me with their style and sizes, and I look forward to messages and emails daily of women asking for style and size advice. One of the most fun parts is seeing the images my customers share on social media of themselves and their families making memories in AMB clothes. The most challenging aspect of business is spreading the word about AMB. That's pretty true for most small businesses but I have big plans to scale and grow this brand nationally. If you love AMB, I'd be delighted if you'd tell your friends! We have a website, FB VIP Group, and Page where customers can interact and receive personal virtual shopping experiences.
C: What has been the biggest challenge in being a small business owner? What has been something that has been a positive surprise?
B: The biggest challenge so far has been learning new skills, rules, and laws. My mom does all of the book keeping which is a huge help. She is an entrepreneur herself and an expert in that area, so I will be forever grateful. Another challenge is finding time to read and staying up to date on marketing ideas/strategies. A positive surprise was when I started this business realizing that God blessed me with Ashley Wiggs. Many of you know Ashley. She is our nanny and also happens to be beautiful. She has been amazing model talent for sharing our styles and has assisted me in marketing, community outreach, and general moral support. She has been with me every step of this journey believing in me, and keeping me focused.
C: What is your favorite thing about owning your own boutique?
B: Hands down the number of women I get to help. My husband and I recently took the boys to tailgate before a game. It was so much fun seeing so many women wearing game day clothes from AMB. They were stylish and having a great time while supporting my alma mater, the University of Florida.
C: Tell us something fun about yourself that we wouldn't necessarily know.
B: My husband and I will be married 8 years this March. We have been blessed by God with two amazing children, and have been able to travel some. However, one thing we have never done together is fly. People laugh hysterically when I tell them that we have never been on a plane together. In time, we will be able to. So, send me your vacation ideas!
C: What is your favorite date night?
B: We often struggle with date nights, we are tired from working but we know the importance of time together. Kyle would say that I always have an “agenda” or things we need to get done. We usually will go have a nice dinner and then run errands. It is crazy how nice it is to go to Sam’s Club and Target without your children. Don’t get me wrong, my children are my everything, but you see the stores in a whole new light.
Thanks for sharing Brooke! We have been loving all of your new fall arrivals and can't wait to see what you have in store for seasons to come!