Beauty Store Business

JAN 2017

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76 January 2017 | beautystorebusiness.com wage, to be totally honest," she says. Her business is a local fixture in the upscale town of St. Helena, which has become something of a bubble, where the cost of living is unusually high because of the town's attempt "to be so exclusive, that we missed out on a lot that our neighbor- ing towns are getting," she explains. St. Helena is also right in the thick of Napa's famous wine country and has a largely affluent population. Chappellet says, "We have an embarrassingly high percentage of homes here that are second homes." She laments that longtime locals don't shop downtown as much anymore "because they feel like the businesses aren't local serving like mine." Because they can't afford to live where they work, many people who work in town commute as much as 45 minutes both ways on a congested two-lane highway. Her store comprises a modest 900 feet of retail space, with 500 square feet of service area. She has four employees, and two independent contractors who rent space. She's aware that those who work for her don't need "a special skill set," and that it's not a position most people will stay in for very long. One of her employ- ees began working for her when she was in middle school and is now a high school senior, making "a little more than minimum wage." Chappellet does not anticipate replacing the employee when she leaves for college and worries about how she'll afford to pay her other employees the mandatory $15 per hour by 2022. In lieu of high wages, she's always prided herself on "creating an atmosphere that's very supportive and nurturing," claiming that her employees tend to be quite loyal to her because she's the kind of boss who offers camaraderie, not whip- cracking. "We support each other; we build each other up." Once these rate hikes take effect, she worries that her business will not be able to keep up with bigger businesses that can more effectively absorb extra costs, not only with their corporate budgets, but through robust online retail sales. Chappellet says the new digital mar- ketplace is already cutting into her sales, yet she doesn't have a big enough cus- tomer reach where her vendors will allow her to sell their products online. With no background in finance, she says she's had "a steep learning curve" and Sara Chappellet, chief beauty offi cer. Heaven and Earth, St. Helena, California.

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