Today we’d like to introduce you to Qiana Scales.
Hi Qiana, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
My journey to becoming a business owner started in 2005 when I was working for Cigna Healthcare. During that time, the company was undergoing a major organizational realignment and I started to ponder what my next chapter would look like after being employed with the company for ten years and at this point, medical billing and contracting is all I knew. Despite my skill set, I came up with the idea to start a nonprofit that I would name The Closet Experience.
My vision was to seek a grant writer to help bring my vision to life of having a warehouse space that was designed to look like a closet that would serve as a hub for underserved communities providing clothing and toiletries to assist with aiding women and men on their path to bettering themselves. Although I hit a dead end in my initial journey and never fulfilled my initial vision. In 2009, I decided I wanted to try and establish a for-profit company selling ladies’ accessories and shoes.
At this point, I am still in the healthcare industry and after doing some research I decided to take a bonus check and purchase my first set of accessories that I would launch at the Seventh Annual Mt. Zion Business Expo around October of 2009. From there, I kept the momentum and kept doing vendor shows and increasing my inventory until I was able to become the full-fledged boutique I am today.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
No, it has not been a smooth road. Like I stated at the beginning of my journey I hit a dead-end trying to seek help to start a non-profit; back then Google and the resources we have today were not as accessible.
Along the way, I would also say trying to find my target audience and marketing have been struggles. As technology has evolved, it has afforded me the opportunity to capitalize on marketing to those that I may or may not have been able to place my brand in front of.
We’ve been impressed with The Closet Experience Boutique, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The Closet Experience is a fashion boutique that has been delighting women of all ages since 2009 by enhancing the wardrobe of women across the United States with our unique blend of style and affordability. We aim to provide quality and fashion-forward pieces that are sue to complete any style/look from classic, chic, modern, vintage, ethnic to pure sophistication; just to name a few. We carry the latest looks and styles in Misses and Full-Figured/Plus Sizes.
Not only do we believe in providing you with your styling needs, but we also strive to provide you with exceptional customer service here at The Closet Experience. This is what sets us apart from our competitors along with an exceptional work ethic.
We are not just about fashion…We are also about community involvement. The Closet Experience was able to issue gift cards and monetary donations for families that were displaced or affected by the March 2020 tornadoes that wreaked havoc over the North Nashville community. We do a Christmas give back each year to a designated family that is brought to our attention that is in need or via Angel Tree. We also donate to various students seeking college funding.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
The pandemic has taught me that it is rewriting the rules of the way I run my brick-and-mortar. For example, I have to make sure that I stay knowledgeable and comply with the health and safety regulations that are mandated by the government ensuring that myself, as well as the patrons, are abiding by the mask mandates and physical distancing standards, etc.
Not only did it teach me things that I had to do in the physical location, but it changed the digital shopping experience as well. I had to implement a buy online pick up in boutique option as well as align my business with a “buy now, pay later” option to stay relevant and current with the customers buying experience.
- Apparel $25-$100
- Eyewear $15-$25
- Handbags $25-$80
- Accessories $10-$60