DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
Sarah Schaeffer, 25
Owner and Buyer at The Uptown Boutique
ï¡¿Imagine for a second that you could buy your favorite store. Not just shop there but own it.
Now meet Sarah Schaeffer, who actually did make that happen.
The Springfield native returned a few years ago after living in Columbia and began frequenting Uptown Angels, a name-brand resale boutique in town. When the opportunity presented itself to buy the shop in 2011, Schaeffer jumped.
Since then she’s been busy adding her personal touch to the store’s inventory and has shifted her focus to bringing in more denim options and adding lines that reflect her own sense of style.
In the summer of 2013, Schaeffer decided to move Uptown four doors down in the Fremont Center. The move doubled her floor space. To shake things up even more, she changed the store’s name to The Uptown Boutique—a small but mighty change.
Taking over the clothing boutique might be a departure from Schaeffer’s studies in education and communication, but she is grateful for the chance to learn business on the fly. Running an established boutique has let Schaeffer learn by trial and error. “I’m grateful I took this route rather than going the business- or fashion-school route,” she says.
It’s Schaeffer’s philosophy to be in the store every single day, although during the expansion she added staff, which opened up her calendar for more meetings and activities, including Junior League of Springfield and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Now that the big move and expansion are complete, she hopes to increase The Uptown Boutique’s online and e-commerce presence.
Occupation: Owner/Buyer at The Uptown Boutique
Education: I graduated from Kickapoo in 2007. Afterward I attended Mizzou and studied Communications and Event Planning for two years before I moved back to Springfield to attend Missouri State, but did not complete my degree due to a business opportunity.
1. How did you end up at your current job/profession?
While attending Mizzou, I would frequent the local boutiques and when I transferred back home I decided to check out what Springfield had to offer. I fell in love with a small place called Uptown Angels, and made it a habit to stop in and shop weekly. One thing lead to another, and I purchased the boutique in April 2011. During this past summer, I decided to move a few doors down to a space twice the size and change the name to something a little more fitting to my style.
2. Where do you find passion to do what you do?
I love what I do because I love clothes. Whether it’s styling an entire outfit, helping someone accessorize pieces from their closet, or introducing customers to the latest trends. I also love traveling to market and buying the newest styles to bring back to 417-land. I just love it all.
3. Are you single/married, and do you have any kids?
I have been dating Mack Musgrave for a little over three years. We have rescued two elderly dogs, Texas and Barley.
4. What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
I enjoy strolling the aisles of Target with a Starbucks coffee in hand, attending hot yoga classes, catching up on my DVR recordings, and dining at local 417-land eateries.
5. Are you involved in any charitable organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role? Why is it important to you?)
Currently I am a member of the Junior League of Springfield. I am in my third year of membership. I serve on the Done in a Day committee where JLS partners with an agency to complete a specific project within one day. While at Mizzou I became a member of the Kappa Delta sorority and loved all of the philanthropic events we participated in and hosted for the campus. That dedication to service was something I greatly appreciate and strive to continue to do in my adult life.
6. Are you a member of any professional organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role?)
Currently I am a member of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. This is my first year of membership, so I have yet to experience everything it has to offer but I have been enjoying the social aspects of the organization.
7. How would you define the secret to success?
I would define the secret to my success as having an amazing support system. Over the past six months I've learned that I can't do it all (as much as I would love to) and the people you have behind you make all the difference. My parents have always let me follow the beat to my drum and without them I would not be anywhere near where I am today.
8. What's your favorite thing about your career?
The most favorite thing about my career is that I am in the driver's seat. I know where I want to take my business and I have the ability to make that happen.
9. What's your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
My most favorite thing about working in 417-land is the connections with my customers. I love having them come in my store but what I love even more is getting to know them or catching up with them while they shop. I appreciate everyone who chooses to shop with me, but I appreciate the friendships I have made over the past three years more. If it wasn’t for my amazing clientele, my business would not be where it is today.
10. If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
To be your own person. Don't change yourself just so people will like you. Some people will, some people won't. Don't waste your time trying to be something you're not.
11. What was your “dream job” at age 5?
At the age of 5, I dreamed of being a hairdresser. I would pretend to cut and style all of my dolls' hair and dress them constantly in head to toe outfits. I would refer to this "game" as playing Pretty Becky. My mom's hair dresser was named Becky, and well, as a 5 year old, everything is pretty. When the opportunity arose to buy my business, my dad suggested our corporation name to be Pretty Becky, INC based upon my love for fashion and beauty at such an early age.
12. List three traits that define a successful career:
I think to have a successful career one must be a hard worker, be loyal to themselves and their peers and have a vision of where they want to take their career.
13. Why are you a 20 under 30?
I would like to think I am 20 under 30 because of my passion and push for my business. Even though I purchased an exciting business, I really have made it my own within the past three years. I work hard to maintain it and always want it to better than it was the day before.
14. What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
My main goal for 2014 is to be completely set up at our new boutique location. It sounds crazy since we have been there since August, but I still don't have an actual office. Our inventory has been turning over quicker than I had imagined, so we are receiving more styles more often (a great thing, I cannot complain!) and our system of unpacking, steaming, pricing, etc. has to be better organized and become more efficient for myself, my employees and my customers. I also really hope to set up some sort of e-commerce part of the boutique, so customers can shop from out of town or from their own home.
15. What completed project are you most proud of?
Well, technically it's not 100-percent complete, but the entire move of the store this past summer has to be the project I am most currently proud of. When the idea of expanding the store began I honestly did not realize how large of a project it was going to be. Everything from choosing a color scheme and concept for the new location, searching and shopping for the decor and doubling the inventory, then choosing a new store name with the logo to match. At many times it seemed like an impossible project to finish but hearing all of the compliments on the first day of business made all of the stress worthwhile.
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:
A sense of accomplishment makes life worth living.
A day at work wouldn't be complete without steaming new arrivals.
Ten years from now, I hope I'm kind of where I am today. I'd like to be married with a child by then, but I am super-content and proud of where I sit right now as a business owner at this point in my life. I do hope to have relinquished the reigns a bit and become a little less obsessive with the boutique; working six days a week won't be as easy with a family.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would pay off my business loan and book a long, all-inclusive beach vacation.
The best part about being a 20 under 30 is celebrating this honor with all of my family, friends and customers. I love any cause for a celebration!