Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathy Bosley has always been attuned to what is in style. As a teenager, she would shop in off-season stores and discount retailers with money she saved working up to three jobs at a time. These thrifty practices followed Bosley into adulthood and helped her discover Clothes Mentor, an upscale resale franchise. Today she owns and operates one of the most successful Clothes Mentor locations in the country. Here's what she has learned.
Name: Kathy Bosley
Franchise owned: Clothes Mentor in Tyler, Texas
How long have you owned a franchise?
My husband, Lane and I started the process in October of 2012 and officially opened for business in January of 2014. We have been open for business for about two years. He helps with the payroll and business end of things and I take care of the front of the store.
Growing up in the 80s I loved brands like Polo, Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt and Jordache, but it was challenging to afford them so I would try to find ways to get them at a lower cost. I would go to a warehouse that sold designer jeans for less and shop at stores like Marshall’s to get name brands for less.
As an adult I continued to search for great deals on great brands by shopping upscale resale stores in Dallas. When my father died he left some money and I wanted to make a good investment with it. My husband and I decided we wanted to open a resale store like the ones I enjoyed in Dallas.
I wanted to make sure the store had a lovely interior and wouldn’t look like a thrift store. I knew it needed great signage, matching hangers and racks, a lovely smell and a reliable computer program to price the items. Neither my husband nor I had taken any business classes so we knew we would need help. A friend told me about Clothes Mentor in McKinney, Texas. My husband and I visited the store and knew right away, with their help, we would have the classy store we wanted! With their help we could have a successful business and fund our college for our three children and our future retirement.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I originally went to the University of Houston planning to be a sportscaster and studied Spanish as my minor. While that was lots of fun, what I really wanted to do was teach elementary school. So, I went back to school to become certified and taught Spanish at the public school, private school and homeschool levels in Tyler, Texas. I opened the store and continued teaching the first two years, but realized I had too much on my plate. I now work in the store full time. I love helping women put together great outfits composed of great brands at an affordable price!
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I wanted a women’s upscale resale store and I knew I would need support. A friend told me about the Clothes Mentor in McKinney, Texas. I visited the store and knew it would be perfect. When I walked into the store I was very surprised by how new everything looked! I loved it because it was important to me that the store be clean and organized like a new-clothing store and never get the “thrift-store” feel. With Clothes Mentor I knew we would accomplish that.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
To open the store we spent approximately $200,000. There was a $20,000 franchise fee and then we used the $180,000 to acquire all the store fixtures, finish the building of the location, purchase computers, $48,000 worth of clothing, as well as to pay staff and get the lease.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
At the very beginning I visited numerous resale stores. I asked lots of questions and decided what I wanted and didn’t want. Lane and I visited Clothes Mentor for a “Discovery Day” filled with lots of questions. After that we talked to Todd and Becky VanVuren at the McKinney, Texas store. Finally, we got wise counsel from some small business owners we knew in Tyler and from our church.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Unexpected challenges included the building process and buying process taking much longer than anticipated, learning how to hire efficiently, and taming the budget after over spending on staffing and advertising the first year.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do research that relates to your whole lifestyle, not just what will make money. The fact that I have a passion for getting great brands to ladies at an affordable price makes the challenges worth overcoming. Also, rely on all that Clothes Mentor or your franchise provides to help you. They are in place to make you successful.
What’s next for you and your business?
I am looking forward to a great year ahead with fantastic business. One of my favorite parts of owning the store is “mentoring” customers who want help putting together stylish outfits. We will be putting a larger emphasis on this in the coming year. This part of town near the store is developing greatly and I know we will benefit from this. I plan to have a much larger staff by the fall when a new middle school opens across the street from our store. I also plan to learn all I can at our Clothes Mentor conference this summer so I can strengthen areas I need to improve. Eventually, I hope to train a manager to take my place and spend more time with our three children.