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Cleveland Mompreneur Guide Podcast
Making Business About More Than Just the Sale with Isabel Pritchett

Making Business About More Than Just the Sale with Isabel Pritchett

Episode #124

Meet Isabel Pritchett

My friend Isabel Pritchett made the short walk down Main Street from her women’s clothing boutique — Sanity — over to the studio to chat with me today! We talk about why she loves retail and how she made her shop a place where women can come to get some sanity (in addition to clothing, shoes, and accessories).

Isabel also shares why she’s been able to stay up to date and on trend in the fashion world for all of her 15 years in business and counting. And she talks about the challenges of being willing to pivot and change with the times for the sake of her customers while still staying true to herself and her style.

We talk so much more about life as mom founders as well:

  • How she felt when she knew she wanted to pursue a different path than her family traditionally expected (doctor or lawyer)

  • What she’s showing her kids about connections, trust, and how her business is about more than just making the sale

  • Being happy with where the business is today and enjoying the moment instead of always feeling a need to do more

Scouting Out Locations for Her Storefront

Back in 2008, Isabel and her husband started scouting out potential storefront locations for their new shop. They would sit outside for a bit and observe: what’s the traffic flow like, how many people are out walking around, where are people coming from and where are they going. After a while they found the perfect spot and were prepared to sign a lease. But just days before they were supposed to sign, they got word that the landlord had second thoughts about renting to them.

“We found out he didn’t want to rent to us because we were ‘too young,’” Isabel remembers how frustrating it was that they weren’t being taken seriously.

“But it was a blessing in disguise because then we found the space we’re in now. I always knew Chagrin Falls was this quaint little area where everybody loved to come; it always felt safe and very inviting. And it’s really been an amazing space for us.”

That search was 15 years ago. Sanity has been going strong ever since.

Finding Sanity

At the start it was just Isabel and her husband.

“The store was the baby. We were both there seven days a week, open to close, all year round. And we did that for almost five years.” Isabel said she wanted to give the business time to build up and become what it was going to be before starting a family.

And ironically, she called the place where she was working these insane hours: Sanity.

Isabel explains why: “I worked in retail before starting the store, and I just fell in love with the customer service aspect. Helping people find what they’re looking for and making them feel good about what they find — that really created this desire in me to open a store. I’ve always loved fashion and boutiques and clothes. And I love when I can envision a new outfit and how I’ll look in it and how I’ll feel in it. So I wanted to open a store where I could make other people feel the way I feel in those moments. It’s their place to come get some sanity.”

And although Isabel has stayed on top of fashion trends for the past decade and a half, the key to Sanity’s growth and staying power has actually been that concept of sanity.

“We really try to get to know our customers. And so many of them come back to us because it’s kind of like their therapy too, you know? In a way we’re like how you go to your hairdresser and you just let it all go.” Isabel loves getting that one on one connection and getting to know them as a person instead of just a sale. “Because if it was just about the sale,” she says, “we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.”

Over the years she’s tried keeping notebooks and spreadsheets of who’s buying what and what everybody loves. But ultimately what has worked best is just making a genuine connection. “When I have that personal connection with a customer, it’s just so easy to remember their style and know what looks good on them and what makes them feel good. That’s one of the things about the store that I absolutely love the most.”

Changing While Staying the Same

Isabel told us about the challenges of being in a trend-heavy industry like fashion. There’s this push and pull of needing to change with the times while also staying true to herself.

“You have to be you and you have to be conscious of who you are as a person, but still staying up to date and on trend for your customers too. That’s where it gets a little tricky sometimes — changing while also staying the same.”

Sometimes that introduces self-doubt into the equation. The voice inside our heads that asks: what are we doing? Is this even right?

“Even though I started the business when I was 25, sometime I still feel like I’m 25 and I’m like – what am I doing? But I think it’s important to have that self-doubt. I can’t always be thinking that what I’m doing is always going to be right.”

“And it’s so easy to be hard on yourself. Especially as a woman and a mom and a wife and a boss, you know, juggling all the things. It’s so easy to think, well, what if I’m not doing the right thing? What if I’m not making the right decision? So I think just really kind of being gentle on myself too, in those moments, is really important.”

Thinking about What’s Now vs. What’s Next

I absolutely loved how Isabel described to me what was next for Sanity. She said right now she is so focused on being happy with where the business is today. She’s enjoying the moment and making her current work the best it can be rather than always feeling this need to do more.

“I’ve always been one that’s very happy with where I am in the moment. So, I mean, of course I would love to grow the business. I would love to possibly have another space, have more locations.”

“But right now, where we are, it’s just such a great place to be.”

Learn more about Isabel and Sanity:

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Cleveland Mompreneur Guide Podcast
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