Here at C & B our timeline is pretty interesting so we use any and every opportunity to celebrate each little victory. We're not huge risk takers, so our history is a compilation of small baby steps & a whole lotta faith & blessings from the Man above.
I've always dreamed of owning my own boutique, never did I imagine it would come to fruition. One class & one professor at NC State kinda turned that around. I minored in business, and for one class in particular our final exam was to be similar to an episode of Shark Tank. We prepared all semester long to 'pitch' an idea to mock investors (they were not mock at all they were very real and very scary, I do not like speaking in front of crowds). So I thought, hey, let's pitch a real dream, so I pitched Cooper & Bailey's.
Not much was going for me with my actual major, Political Science, (can you picture me in law school, major LOL), so with the INCREDIBLE support from my parents and a pretty solid wing-man by my side (Debbie, my mom) we created an LLC for Cooper & Bailey's while I was still in school.
The name Cooper & Bailey's, came from our dogs. Cooper is my parents Yorkie, Bailey is a rescue, a true Carolina Brown Hound (mut). If you were to start your own business, what would you name it? Think about it, it's pretty hard. So we looked at our two fur balls and said, hey your names are pretty catchy together, we'll take it. And even today you can find their portrait behind the register ;)
After graduation, work began. As much as I wanted to spread my wings, stay in Raleigh, live the cool 20 something life, my parents encouraged me (thank goodness I listened) to move back home to save money and not throw myself in debt chasing a dream. I will forever be grateful for their wisdom and unconditional love throughout the process. They didn't have to support me, give up half of their house to my mess, & my pretend office/shop in the guest bedroom. So, here's to you my Mama & Daddy. And if I'm being completely honest, I'm the world's biggest homebody so it's only fitting I came back to my roots.
Mom and I took our first market trip in June 2013. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We went to the Atlanta Apparel Mart, a ginormous building of about 13 floors, each one loaded with multiple vendors & brands. Talk about overwhelming. Here I am little old Meghan with ZERO background in fashion or merchandising, opening a boutique. Where do you start? What do people like? What image do I want for the brand? AM I EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE DOING THIS?? Breathe, pray, glass of wine; Yes, you are. We meandered through some of the booths and eventually made our way up to the UnCommon Fashion showroom which houses some of our favorite brands still today. Shout-out to Blake and his girls because, y'all, I cried. His wife was so reassuring towards my embarrassingly candid episode (eyeroll emoji). "Is this your first time to market, girl it's fine, you'll get the hang of it."
And we did. We placed our orders, and launched Cooper & Bailey's online in July of 2013. It was such a thrilling and fulfilling feeling to have created something like that; however, we soon learned just how difficult sustaining an online store would be. It's incredible the amount of time & work it takes to sustain enough online traffic to become profitable. We also realized how important actually trying clothes on was. Locals and close friends would come to our house to try things on, and we would do pop-up shops and shows when we could, all of which were fairly successful. That's when we knew we'd have to take another leap of faith and grow into an actual brick & mortar store.
Being the problem-solver, all knowing genius she is, Debbie found a small, convenient, (and by convenient I mean not even a mile from their house) inexpensive space to rent, for Cooper & Bailey's. I can't stress enough my gratitude to my family and friends, who helped whip together a gorgeous storefront in only a month. I must say I've been extremely blessed with resources many people don't have, one of my biggest being my Daddy ;) He'll probably never realize how talented he is, but come visit the store & you'll see.
We were beyond thrilled with the reception of the brick & mortar store. Especially for the location. It was a small white house located on the corner of Linden Rd & Hwy 5. I would love hearing older gentlemen who came in with their wives talk about how it used to be a diner owned by the Frye family. I also learned that the building served as a similar starting point for Caroline Miller of Cameron & Company, who we'd later grow to share buildings with. Somehow those little bits of history add to your own story in a special way. As there was plenty of traffic in that space, it just wasn't the traffic needed for a small boutique. A little angel by the name of Grace Anne Longfellow helped spread the word with the high school girls for exposure, and we started gaining traction, but we still longed for more.
We began the search for a more heavily foot trafficked area to rent. Of course then I thought it was my time to shine and move back to Raleigh and open up there with the big dogs. NOT. Who was I kidding, I will probably (gladly) never leave this glorious place we call The Pines. Having worked at a boutique in Downtown Southern Pines for multiple years in high school, I was pretty familiar with retail in that area; but there was something about the Village of Pinehurst that tugged at this old soul's heartstrings. I remember hanging out, walking around in middle school, & always getting an absurd load of candy from Incredible Edibles at the Christmas Tree Lighting. There was no direct competition for what we carried, and with our target market, so we focused on the Village.
AND HERE WE ARE! Located in the Pinehurst Department Store, in the Village of Pinehurst. What makes this space and this location so special truly lies within the people around. The business itself is still a learning process, it always will be, but that's the beauty of owning your own business. You're always evolving and growing and through the process you learn things about yourself you never knew; like, I knew I was an old soul but darn-it if God didn't know what he was doing when he planted me back in the gem that is Pinehurst. The charm, the people, the feeling you get when you walk through the Village, everyone knowing your name, can't be put into words.
I want to thank my parents, so, SO much for everything they've done for me. My extended family, my friends who are family, everyone, for making this small town girl's dreams come true. I thank you all for your continued support and I'm going to stop typing now because I'm dropping happy tears on the keyboard.
LOVE YOU ALL. Peace & Blessingsz.