Going into to business for yourself can be quite daunting. Knowing where to start, taking the initiative to start, and actually starting is just as taxing as maintaining your business and thriving in the ever-changing business environment. Fret not. Smaller retailers not only have hope, but also a hero in the field that empowers more people to be excited about where they can go with their businesses.
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is a modern day superhero. Coming from an extensive background of understanding the business of retail, Nicole champions success for smaller retailers in a major way. From an amazing online presence and publication to a independent retail conference that provides others with the resources they need, Retail Minded isn’t solely a school of thought. It’s a lifestyle to win.
WBM: Story is what gives businesses their character, how has your story lead you to the development of your publication and indie retail conference?
NICOLE: Retail has been in my blood since I was a little girl. Rather than working at the local mall, I begged my parents to let me drive an hour to work at Nordstrom. It was during this time that I gained true respect for the business of retail – not just shopping, as I had previously experienced it. Over the years, and after studying retail at Columbia College, I gained an appreciation for the smaller retailers of the world. Despite holding both regional and national management roles with such companies that included Sears Corporation, Franco Sarto Footwear and Adidas America, my heart was telling me to offer indie businesses support in their hefty responsibilities. This is what inspired Retail Minded to come to life.
Originally founded as a boutique consulting firm, I realized quickly that my reach could offer more support to more indies if I dedicated my time to writing about retail education and support in a variety of ways. The Retail Minded blog was born, and shortly after Crain’s Business picked it up as a weekly regular contribution to their website. Many other publications took notice, and the majority of my work became writing about the business of retail for very niche focused retail sectors, such as museum stores or floral boutiques.
While I continue to consult, my time is primarily spent on writing and speaking to niche retail audiences. And after doing this for many years, my experiences made me want to offer the “collective audience of indie retailers” a resource that spoke to their entire lifestyles. I’ve always believed owning and running your own retail store is more than a job – it’s a lifestyle – and it’s with this in mind that Retail Minded Magazine came to life.
Founded in 2011 with it’s first issue available in January 2012, Retail Minded Magazine supports independently owned retailers and other small businesses in their entire store operations. From merchandising to management to scheduling and more, we support them with their unique struggles, opportunities and day-to-day lifestyles in mind. We also offer support to their everyday living since indie store owners truly live a retail minded life and rarely get a day off. And we always speak to them with an understanding that they own only one or just a few stores – remembering that budgets, time and staff are all limited for most of our retail audience.
This is also exactly why the Independent Retailer Conference, in association with Nolcha [Fashion Week], was such an important event to bring to life. Retailers can’t do it all alone – despite their very best efforts. If every indie retailer could commit to one, action packed and education rich day each year to learn more about helping their business, we’d see a lot more success in indie retail. It’s vital for independent store owners to take the time to learn… again and again. There is so much change, and yet so much to do, and yet so many resources to choose from. The Independent Retailer Conference delivers the best support to an indie audience, saving them time to weed out the clutter and instead focus on what will help their business.
WBM: How significant has the internet been with spreading your brand message and unifying retailers abroad?
NICOLE: The internet is my main platform for marketing Retail Minded. I’m active in Twitter and other social media sites, as well as the internet allows me to reach retailers and those that support retailers worldwide. Our audience includes people from all over the world, which I think is fantastic. Just as I love to reach new people in places I have never been, I also love to learn from people in places I have never been. My business simply wouldn’t exist as it does without the internet.