Last Fall, A Magazine profiled Nicole Artino, Kent State alumna and founder of 261 Boutique — an online boutique that launched in January 2014. With a goal of owning her own storefront boutique, she has done just that with her recent July 2015 grand opening.
Artino’s boutique sets her apart from other as she is one of the only retailers in Ohio who carries exclusive brands and ensures customer satisfaction.
A Magazine caught up with Artino to discuss her new storefront in Uniontown, Ohio, and her latest fashion ventures.
A Magazine: Did you always want to own a business?
Nicole Artino: I did! Both of my parents own their own business, so it runs in my blood. I think that growing up in that environment gave me a bit of an edge over some other entrepreneurs because I’ve seen the amount of work and determination that goes into getting a business off the ground, but then I’ve also seen the reward that can come out of that hard work. I’ve encountered some entrepreneurs who forget that starting a business isn’t an overnight success.
I’ve encountered some entrepreneurs who forget that starting a business isn’t an overnight success.
AM: Were you a fashion major or was opening a business something you always wanted to do?
NA: I majored in fashion merchandising and minored in business at Kent State. I actually switched my major to business when I found out I was going to be a military wife with hopes that it would be easier to find a job in a wider range of locations, but that only lasted for a semester when my love of fashion proved strong enough that I would find a way to do both.
AM: How did your company start out; where did the idea come from?
NA: I got married right out of college (May 2013) and my husband was in the Marine Corps stationed in California, so I moved out there with him. Trying to find a job in fashion wasn’t an easy task. There were plenty of opportunities in Los Angeles, but we were located in Oceanside which was a two-hour drive to L.A. — and that’s not factoring in the lovely California traffic — so that was a bit too far to commute every day. Since starting my own business was something that I’ve always wanted to do, I decided that there was no time like the present. I started it online (she began working on it in Fall 2013 launched January 2014) due to the fact that the military is very unpredictable, and we didn’t know if we would have to relocate or anything. I needed a business that could travel with us if need be.
AM: How did you come up with the name 261 Boutique?
NA: Coming up with a name for the store was one of the hardest things in the process of starting this business. I liked the way that numbers looked and sounded for branding purposes. My family is so important to me, and I could not have done this without their support, which led to the numbers that I chose which came from the fact that me and my sister were both born on the 26th, and my husband and brother were both born on the 1st. I combined those to come up with the name 261 Boutique.
AM: What kind of clothing do you carry in the store compared to online?
NA: I would say 95 percent of what is available online is also available in the store. The only time I don’t put something online that I have in the store is if it wouldn’t be very easy to ship.
AM: What brands do you carry?
NA: My top brands are Jadelynn Brooke, kate spade new york and Lilly Pulitzer, but I also carry Krass & Co, Grace and Lace, BANDED headbands, Ashley Brooke Designs, as well as a lot of product from boutique distributors that aren’t necessarily a part of a specific line. A new line that we are bringing in for fall, now that we have a storefront, is Lauren James.
AM: What gives your store a unique edge compared to others in your area?
NA: My store has a unique edge compared to others in my area in that there really isn’t one like it. There are a few boutiques in the neighboring towns, but mine is the first of its kind in Uniontown. I try my best to carry items that are made in the United States which isn’t a very common thing anymore, but what really sets me apart are the brands that I carry.
AM: How do you see yourself expanding the business?
NA: My focus at the moment is the store and building up a customer base, but eventually I would love to have a line that I design and carries a 261 Boutique label and is exclusive to my store. That is my ultimate goal.
At the moment I only carry women’s clothing and accessories – more specifically juniors and young contemporary sizing. I have been thinking about branching out into men’s clothing and have found some quality brands that I really like, but for now I think I’m going to focus on women’s and maybe expand into men’s in the future.
My focus at the moment is the store and building up a customer base, but eventually I would love to have a line that I design and carries a 261 Boutique label and is exclusive to my store.
Contact and follow Nicole:
261 Boutique Location:
13069 Cleveland Ave NW Uniontown, OH 44685
Facebook: 261 Boutique