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Exploring Life & Business with Tracey Mertens of Forget Me Not Boutique

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracey Mertens.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I guess I have always been interested in fashion and beauty but was raised traditionally to go to college and get a good job, get married, have children, etc… not to necessarily pursue my dreams. I don’t regret the wonderful family I have now, but I have always sought out creative outlets aside from my full-time job to satisfy what I was missing. I have been in the direct sales arena for over 25 years and have learned valuable information in regard to being a mentor, what it means to be a leader, managing a business, and building relationships with people. I believe all of this has prepared me to have the confidence to take the leap and open my first online boutique then three years later a storefront boutique later in life.

Trust me it is quite different not having the backing of a direct sales company to provide and do many things behind the scenes for you so there is alot to learn but I am having the time of my life!

My faith has always been first and foremost in every decision I make and when the opportunity presented itself, I knew it was right and fell in line with my values and vision. It has only been seven months and it is a slow process but I am hopeful that by this time next year, business will be booming!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Having your own business is never a smooth road. I liken it to a roller coaster. There is always something you hadn’t thought of that comes along and you need to deal with it as it comes. I opened my business during COVID and that probably wasn’t the best time, but if felt right. I had difficulty obtaining an occupancy permit that went on for months as the city couldn’t locate my address in their records.

Finally, my landlord was able to clarify that my address was under a trust as part of multiple units. Then came four different inspections as the city process is very involved. I am also in a 100 old building and it looked like it! I had 30 days to make it look presentable, which was a challenge. I also had to figure out my marketing strategy to encourage foot traffic to the boutique. One of the best things I did was hire a social media assistant who took over posting on my Instagram page as I didn’t have the time nor the experience to do it. I still work my full-time job, so I need to work smarter, not harder.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
What led me to create my boutique online, which then led to my storefront, was my own frustration in trying to find clothing styles that were unique and on-trend for “real women” my age that didn’t all look the same as I went from store to store. I was tired of stretchy print leggings and fully stretchy tops that didn’t flatter any part of my body. So I took one year to do some research on wholesale fashion brands and what I could find that was high quality, unique, on trend and not fast fashion that would be out of style and needing to be thrown out at the end of the season in addition to be flattering to real women’s bodies. I also wanted to find plus-size styles which are even more difficult to find.

I went to my first market in Las Vegas with my daughter and was overwhelmed but it was a great learning experience. I did make a few buying mistakes, but it was a great way to determine some brands that I wanted to carry in the boutique and still do to this day.

In deciding what to name my store, I came up with the name Forget Me Not Boutique because I never want to forget any woman, no matter her age or size, who is in need of something that makes her look and feel good. My tag line is “for women like us” meaning I want to represent the women out there that aren’t the perfect shape and size but all have flaws we don’t feel good about and want to conceal. I believe that I am known for providing styles and women feel good in and know that they won’t see on anyone else and when they walk thru my door they will always feel special and I will do everything I can to find them something that accentuates their beauty within.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I have a friend who I met by chance that invited me to display my clothing in her boutique for about a year on consignment until she had to close but she said my line was the most popular in her boutique and I learned that my styles appeal to all ages and also learned alot from her as to how she displayed her clothing and managed her inventory. I also am learning alot from my social media assistant as far as how to build relationships with my followers and create customers from there. She has been so helpful.

I also talk to alot of other business owners and learn from them as to what they have done and what has been successful and not successful. There are far too many to name.

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