Karli Harris recalls traveling to Cincinnati with Ellen Novar’s Consumer Behavior marketing class at Wilmington College. There they visited a half dozen stores looking with a critical eye where the merchandise was positioned.
“That was a very hands-on learning experience. I often look back on that day,” said Harris, a 2013 graduate in marketing and graphic design who’s already well on the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
She also recalls another WC experience involving traveling when she participated in several spring break study trips in Europe. While she was kidded by some for her fascination with shopping in London, Paris and Rome, there was a method to her madness that continues to serve her well.
“There’s tons of boutiques in Europe,” she said. “I got a feel for them and brought that idea here.”
Harris is a young entrepreneur, following in her father’s footsteps as a business owner, with the establishment of a trendy fashion store for young women, Everyday Chic Boutique. What she started as a Web-based business after her graduation from WC has quickly grown into the newest shop in downtown Wilmington.
Everyday Chic Boutique Offers Fashion Forward Apparel, Accessories, Jewelry, Unique Gifts and Home Décor
She started it while working full time as the small business loan coordinator at Wright-Patterson Credit Union. There, she worked with hopeful entrepreneurs and realized she too had a business idea with prospects for success.
“I asked myself, ‘What’s your favorite thing to do? ‘Shop.’ So I turned it into a business,” she said. “My motto is, ‘If I’d buy it, I think others would too.’”
That bold proclamation is paying dividends as she expanded her Internet business to bringing apparel and accessory items to festivals and making them available through her “pop-up shops” at other businesses.
“It sold like crazy!” she added.
Harris built upon that early success when she moved into a space on West Locust St. near the former Cassano’s Pizza in downtown Wilmington in late 2014. Initially open only weekends, it grew in popularity so quickly that she quit her job with Wright-Patt and went full time the following April.
A year later, May 1, 2016, she moved Everyday Chic Boutique into the newly remodeled, historic Samuel Walker’s Building, which feartures a prime, Main St. location with on-site parking across from the General Denver Hotel and Grille, and next to the Murphy Theatre. Her grand opening event in early June marked the launch of a home décor line to go with the apparel, accessories, jewelry and unique gifts.
Being located in the heart of downtown represents both a pragmatic and idealogical move.
“Being born and raised in Wilmington, I’m passionate about this area — I believe our downtown can thrive,” she said. “It’s exciting that people are coming from as far away as Dayton, Cincinnati, Dublin and Northern Kentucky University to shop here. I want to bring people to this area. I’d like to see downtown Wilmington as a destination city like Lebanon and Waynesville.”
Harris said her main customer demographic is an 18 to 35-year-old female who does much of her shopping online because, typically, that’s where she’s found especially distinct apparel.
“They’re fashion forward — they’re looking for unique trends that haven’t hit the malls yet,” she said. “They are people wanting to try something new.
Harris has enjoyed great success reaching that audience via social media, which might initially attract customers to her Website, and, in turn, drive them toward her store. Obviously, her background in graphic design and marketing played a role in the creation of an appealing Website and compelling social media and promotional messaging.
As Harris basks in her thus-far, successful venture as an entrepreneur, she’s already looking to give back, as both Novar and Angela Mitchell, two of her WC faculty mentors, have asked that she share her story in their classes. With that in mind, Harris looks back to several years ago when she attended WC’s “speed networking” sessions in which students have an opportunity to speak — for a few quick minutes — with an ever-rotaing number of local professionals.
“I remember meeting Molly Dullea, owner of the General Denver. I was so inspired with how she built such a successful business,” Harris said. “I look forward to being on the other side of the table when I can be a resource to students.
“Networking was so important to making connections that have helped me with my business. I still use my professors as resources, Ellen, Angela, Steven Stovall,” she added. “There’s so much you can learn from them.”