Ownership has its privileges.
“One of the neat things about owning and operating a retail clothing store,” says Jill Byanski of Lane 201 Boutique in New Haven, is that “you get to see all the hot new trendy things before anyone else. Another is the hands-on part of picking the merchandise and displaying it creatively in our shop. Perhaps the best part is meeting new people and making new friends.”
The fact that retail sales is a scary business and that a good percentage of such companies fail within the first year hasn’t fazed Byanski. She started Lane 201 in May 2015 with the primary thought of having it be an online venture. She and her brother, Eric Byanski, who is her business partner/accountant/marketing guru and website designer, got things going at 510 Broadway in the building where he had previously operated his Enviro Ink printer ink cartridges business.
“We set up the 1,200 square feet as a warehouse and place to take orders from the internet,” she said. “Friends kept dropping in to find out how it was going and in the process made some purchases. Not long after that we found ourselves selling off the racks and operating a storefront shop. We did some rearranging to give it a small-town boutique feel rather than a mirror image of Macy’s or some other big retailer. I chose the name Lane 201 because that’s the address of my parents’ cottage on Turkey Lake where my brother and I spent our summers when we were growing up.”
Surprisingly what she found was that in-store sales were far outperforming the internet’s. “We have a rather wide demographic that includes women from 18 to 50. ... It’s crazy that 18-year-olds would even venture into a store where mature women are shopping, but they seem to be coexisting just fine. They’re all looking for items that offer casual comfort and are chic in styling. And that’s where we come in,” she added.
She and her brother attended a fashion trade show in Las Vegas where they met a lot of vendors who are now their suppliers. “I work with a couple of Fort Wayne models, Hanna Kampenga who I’ve known since grade school, and Cortney McDougal, and local photographer Kasci Ziegler on photo shoots in the store. The pictures are then up-loaded onto our website www.lane201.com.”
Byanski took time off from the store starting March 24 to deliver her son, Hayes, until the end of May. The store’s marketing/social media manager, Taylor Newnam, ran things.
Jill Byanski, a Snider High School graduate, attended IPFW. She worked four years at her father’s firm, Graphics Output, before he and her brother encouraged her to get into the retail clothing business.
“I have to give a lot of the credit for the shop’s success so far to them because they taught me so much about running a business and for encouraging me when I was down.
“I’ve always been a big-time shopper, and running a shop is something I’d been thinking about for some time. It’s a perfect combination, except that now I’m shopping for others.”