Fairytale Reform: You have your own boutique and bridal shop! That is such a dream job. When did you first have the dream of going into the fashion retail industry?
Carley Johnson: It IS such a dream job! I feel so lucky to be doing what I love. I first dreamt of opening a boutique when I was about 14 years old. There was a boutique in the mall that I loved, and I couldn’t even fit into the clothes yet. I admired the owner’s passion and willingness to help make me feel beautiful and confident. She inspired me so much that as soon as I turned 17 I applied to work at her store. I felt like I just landed an internship with Vogue when she hired me on. I absolutely loved working in retail and connecting with customers the way she did. I worked retail all the way through college until I opened my first store right after graduation!
FR: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
CJ: It is without a doubt making women feel like the best versions of themselves through style and self expression. For bridal, it’s the ability to facilitate and make the one of the most exciting aspects of planning a wedding (finding the dress) extra special with an unforgettable experience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried when a bride says yes to her dress.
FR: I’m sure it’s not all rainbows and sunshine though! What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome as a small business owner?
CJ: It is absolutely not all rainbows and sunshine! We would have a hard time appreciating all of the good without a little challenge now wouldn’t we? 🙂
The biggest challenge for me as a small business owner so far, is knowing how to distinguish between my personal happiness and my ego’s happiness. When the bridal shop opened, I felt myself getting stretched too thin running two businesses simultaneously, and it was affecting me mentally. For a while there was a voice inside telling me I don’t have to do it all, but I pushed through because I was attached to the idea that owning two businesses made me look like more of a success (hello ego), and more hustle = higher success.
FR: Wow! That is so insightful and a really important aspect of owning a business that people don’t always talk about. Thank you for So if girls DO decide to take the bold journey into entrepreneurship and retail how can they get started?
CJ: Do your research! I spent hours upon hours on search engines, typing everything from “how to open a boutique” to “how to start a business.” The SBA.gov website was a lot of help. I also recommend writing a full business plan. It may not run the exact way you write it, but it shows that you are committed to your concept and sets you up to be able to answer any and every question about your future endeavor.
FR: May is mental health month! As a creative person, are there any mental or emotional challenges you’ve had to work through?
CJ: Absolutely! I feel like most creatives are constantly battling their inner dialogue that questions their ideas and their worth (hello self-doubt)! One of my biggest challenges as a creative has been calling myself a creative, and caring too much about how other people define me. I used to associate creativity with having to be good at arts/crafts (which I’m really not good at), and I didn’t even think of it as the ability to create a concept, build a brand, or come up with ideas. Since accepting my form of creativity, I’ve felt more free to express myself and share it with others. That doesn’t mean I don’t still care about what others think! Expressing yourself is TERRIFYING. It puts you in such vulnerable space, but the positives almost always outweigh the negatives (which are usually only in my head).
FR: What are some coping skills you use to help you maintain a positive mindset, even when challenges come up?
CJ: When I get worried about being judged for my self-expression or how I do business, I like to remind myself that I don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea :). Sometimes I go as far as listening to the Kacey Musgraves song about it.
I take inventory of the people in my life who love and support me no matter how high or low life takes me, and I practice gratitude. I am a firm believer in growth by learning from mistakes/challenges, and that whatever course life takes you is setting you up for your very own version of happiness, no one else’s.
I love to tell myself “Hey Carley, someday you’ll look back on this challenging moment in your life, smile, and be so thankful it happened because you can’t appreciate your current life without it.”
FR: Our motto is “Be Your Own SPARK”. What does this mean to you?
CJ: I LOVE this motto! It is the essence of what I’m all about, which is individuality and self-love. No one is YOU, and that is your superpower.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and it is up to you to embrace your gifts and use them to bring joy to yourself and those around you.
FR: OMG. Love it! Mic drop 🙂 How can we connect with you further?