University of Rhode Island  
Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

TMD 402 Spring 2012 "Entrepreneurship"

Janelle Feigley

Summary by Leslie Govalet

 
       

Sometimes entrepreneurship begins at a very young age. Janelle Feigley, owner of Gossip Boutique in Wickford and Newport, began writing her business plan at age twelve. Janelle worked hard throughout her childhood saving every penny she made to make her business idea a reality. Today she owns her popular boutique in two Rhode Island locations and is continuing to develop her first clothing line for the store. For a successful entrepreneurial business, Janelle emphasizes the importance of saving money, and developing a business plan with thoroughly conducted research. She also explained the process of developing a clothing line.

Janelle Feigley has worked throughout her life to develop Gossip Boutique. After graduating in just three years from St. Joseph’s University, Janelle worked for Kraft Foods Company and then Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company. Although these were not her dream jobs, she learned about working with customers to increase sales skills, and she earned a lot of money that she was able to put towards her clothing store. However, starting a business is still a huge expense. Janelle and her husband approached investors and lived small until the point where Gossip was up and running.

Janelle’s business plan went from fourteen pages at age twelve to forty-eight pages by the time she presented it to investors. When writing a business plan, one must decide whether he or she wants to develop an LLC, sole proprietorship, or corporation. Janelle recommends contacting a lawyer for making this decision. A lawyer will also help the entrepreneur with any problems that may arise. It is also necessary to research an ideal location, the store’s target market, and to develop a SWOT analysis. Janelle had to make sure she maintained the historic guidelines of her location in Wickford. She recommends researching demographic profiles of potential customers through online reports and town hall records. She also suggests sharing ideas with a focus group or close trustworthy friends in order to get feedback about the business idea. For the SWOT analysis, Janelle believes that a strength Gossip has is personal service, a weakness is a lack of consistent help, an opportunity is to open a new store, possibly with a different niche, and a threat is internet sales of other firms. She believes that store competition is good because the two stores can help bring more customers, but copying another store is not ethical or fair. Janelle stated that the most difficult part of a business plan is researching a possible breakeven point because it is very hard to determine. For promoting the store, Janelle emphasizes branding yourself. It is necessary to identify the store’s niche, develop a mission, understand what you do best and what sets you apart, and to work it!

Once a business plan is created and the business is up and running, it is important to analyze data. Janelle researches where her customers are coming from and why they purchase what they purchase. If most of her customers come from one town, she may consider opening a store there. If she is selling more tops than jeans, she can place an order for more tops for the next season.

One of Janelle’s most recent projects is that she is working on her own clothing line. This process includes sketching a design, tweaking it, sending it to a patternmaker, shipping out the pattern and having samples made, and tweaking it again until it is what you want. Next, the designer has to choose fabric and have the design manufactured. Janelle strives to have her clothing line made in the United States. She has some of her line manufactured in Los Angeles, but manufacturing clothing in the USA is very expensive. She strives not to compromise her ethics by manufacturing outside of the country. If her designs are manufactured in other countries, she makes sure that workers have good working conditions.

Janelle Feigley is certainly an admirable entrepreneur. Gossip Boutique has won a Best of Rhode Island award and has expanded to a second location in Newport. Janelle is now working on her clothing line, Gossip by Janelle Brittany. An entrepreneur who loves his or her job as much as Janelle Feigley while staying positive and working smart is highly likely to develop a successful business.

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