Katie Jacobs owns and manages Cheeky Peach, a downtown Athens clothing boutique that specializes in American made and fair trade handmade jewelry. Cheeky Peach has recently expanded, quintupling its staff and tripling its space with a new Clayton Street storefront.
No Two Days Alike
Katie loves working in the retail industry for the variety of the job. Her no-holds-barred approach to management doesn’t hurt: on some days she’s doing administrative work, on some she’s troubleshooting with vendors, and on others she’s training her team on the floor.
A typical workday doesn’t only deal with the nitty gritty: Katie also focuses on building new clothing lines and looking for labels with the best quality. She collaborates with her team to buy new inventory, dream up new events, design exciting promotions, and drive sales. Other times she and her staff engage their customers by visiting sorority houses or handing out branded water bottles on hot days. Whenever she feels her work has kept her from connecting with her client base, Katie goes to the store just to work the floor.
Delegating for Expansion
Katie says her worst job—working at a customer complaint call center—gave her the best experience. She constantly considers the types of experiences that drove people to complain. She later worked for a collegiate jewelry line, where she helped to design new lines and represented the designer at trade shows. She learned that many of the best boutique owners were simply passionate about the work, and didn’t necessarily start from a design background. This gave her the confidence that led to Cheeky Peach.
When Katie had a baby, her husband came on board to help with the company. She realized how little she’d been delegating tasks, and becoming a mother forced her to create a new balance and start depending on her people. She’s fortunate to have a self-driven staff with defined responsibilities, and she lauds her team for coming together during transition. By delegating, Katie was able to get above the day-to-day details, and focus on her big picture vision for expansion. Her vision quickly came to fruition: by the end of a successful opening weekend in the new space, Cheeky Peach was completely out of inventory.
Creating the Customer Experience
Katie is 100% sure ofon one thing: customer experience is the most important aspect of what she does. The customer has to be well-served, hold that she’s being well attended, and feel that she’s truly part of a styling experience. Even if the customer doesn’t find the item that she needs, Katie wants her to feel comfortable coming back. Katie seeks to create an atmosphere that encourages relief in knowing where to find good hands in local fashion, and excitement in sharing about the selection and service at Cheeky Peach.
To keep her team unified toward creating positive experiences, Katie organizes regular outings to great local places like Artini’s. She puts a strong emphasis on training, but these outings are purely intended for her staff to play, have fun, and get to know each other. Katie makes it a point to help customers one-on-one whenever she has the chance, and she hopes that a comfortable and happy team will have the same motivation.
Cheeky Peach has been open now for 4.5 yrs. Time flies! It came about because I was passionate about clothing, saw a niche, and wanted to fill it.
Keeping the Blinders Off
Katie is a big believer in community connections. She attends business openings, and enjoys learning who people are and what they’re about, and sharing the same of herself. She believes that you can’t live and do business in a place with blinders on: you need to reach out, and not just because you think you could find customers.
Katie makes it a point to listen and create meaningful relationships with people, including those who may not be as close. For example, she knows everyone that works at her bank, and could probably tell you all their kids’ names and how they’re doing in school. She doesn’t start these conversations for work; she does it because she sincerely loves talking with and learning about people.