Late Bird:Fight or Flight Effort to Keep Biz Alive

Strangest thing: Did you guys know that there is not one section in “Starting a Business for Dummies” that addresses how to keep a new business alive during a pandemic? So with no set instructions and not even a full year of business owning experience under my belt, I find myself improvising..which is what has brought me here.

I guess I should probably start by introducing both myself and my business: My name is Julia Goulet and I am the co-owner of Late Bird Boutique  , an online women’s clothing store with a physical storefront located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

With an enormous amount of help and support from my parents, my forever-dream of having a boutique of my own became a reality when Late Bird officially opened for business at the end of last May.
Running things as a one-woman show (with help from my employee-of-the-month, every month AKA Dad), it took me a full 10 months to even get to the point where sales were becoming a daily, rather than bi-weekly, event (mostly thanks to a big increase in advertising).

And on the subject of events: a good portion of our business has relied on events we would host, specifically, shopping “parties” in which well-established clients would help us build our customer-base by inviting their friends (which at times consisted of as many as 20 people) to Late Bird to snack, socialize, shop, and see for themselves, the genuine charm of the space, as well as the quality and unique variety of our inventory.

I distinctly remember a conversation my dad and I had at the beginning of March…we were thrilled because we were expecting it to be our “biggest” month-to-date with 8 parties scheduled. Of those 8, we were forced to cancel 5, due to Covid-19. It seemed like as soon as we finally started gaining some momentum, everything came to a screeching halt. Now we find ourselves lucky to have a week with more than 2 or 3 (online) sales.

We’ve put all we could into this business but at the rate we’re going now, I fear Late Bird won’t survive this pandemic; a  terrifying thought seeing as how my family no longer has the means to provide financial support for the business.

Beyond the necessity to make a living, there are a number of other expenses to consider:
. The cost of rent
. Advertising that, in the absence of regular store traffic, is necessary for our business to reach broader audiences in attempt to increase the likelihood of online sales
. Bills for pieces that are cut-to-order (having done our buying based on the upward trend we were starting to see with sales, we have more than 10 orders set for May, alone)
. Monthly website-hosting fees

My family and I very much understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and that many of you are just like us, facing your own financial struggles. So please believe me when I say, we aren’t seeking handouts, we’re seeking help. The main goal of this campaign is to build brand awareness. I want to earn your business and your loyalty by showing you (even if it’s just a preview) my commitment to serving customers as best I can ensure total satisfaction with each transaction.

*EDIT: At this time, I'm shipping out domestic orders on a daily basis. I'm also offering free curbside pickup as well as free delivery to anyone within a 20 mile radius of Ann Arbor*

In general, the goods we provide are non-essentials and might not be what you need most right now. If that’s the case but you still would like to help us keep our business alive, please consider donating to our campaign; the amount doesn’t matter because at this point, every bit counts.

One year ago, I was fortunate enough to see my long-time dream come to fruition when Late Bird opened its doors.
I’ve always been incredibly passionate about working in women’s fashion retail; it’s a passion that goes beyond buying the latest trends. I find purpose in connecting with others; getting to know them, building a rapport and establishing a safe place.

Over the years it’s come to my attention that not all women enjoy the process of shopping for clothes - an idea that was lost on me at first (since I can basically shop in my sleep) until I realized that a lot of women don’t know how to shop for themselves and their body types. And without that concrete knowledge, most women are left guessing about what styles will work for them; forced to take on a “trial and error” method. And with so many different cuts and silhouettes, there’s a lot of room for…well…error. And that just seems like an exhausting, frustrating, and generally defeating process…to which I wag my finger and say “NOT IN MY HOUSE!”

I created Late Bird to be a comfortable, stress-free shopping atmosphere where women don’t have to worry about striking out with styles. The goal is to make shopping a positive experience for each women that comes into store by offering personal styling services to find pieces that best compliment her shape, size, lifestyle, and personality. And when everything comes together, those are the moments I live for. Because when a woman tries on an outfit that suits her perfectly, a shift takes place. Her eyes light up because she is looooving the woman in the mirror that’s staring back at her. Being there for that moment to witness that transformation, had become one of the most rewarding feelings for me. It reassures me that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and that’s a feeling I want to hold onto for as long as I can. And please understand, it’s not easy for me to be this genuinely vulnerable  but I guess it’s what I feel is necessary to try to keep “my baby” alive. Again, if you’re willing and have the means…all support is welcome. Thanks for your time and consideration.

<3 Julia

Donations ()

  • Emily Lindemann 
    • $5 
    • 5 d
  • Sara Fradin 
    • $15 
    • 11 d
  • Alison Condon 
    • $20 
    • 13 d
  • Lauren Wright 
    • $25 
    • 13 d
  • Katherine Nopar 
    • $20 
    • 13 d
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Julia Goulet 
Ann Arbor, MI
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