As it turns out, it took Durkin some time to commit to this business. The passion was there. The belief in its success was there, too. What held her back was fear.
"To be honest, this was my primary concern. I only have one BEST friend and sister and our relationship is beyond dear to me. It took me two years to really be sure. We are like a good marriage, in that we BOTH put each other first. We consider each other's best interests, naturally. As far as the working my butt off, that part was a no-brainer," says Durkin.
These ladies are focused on scoring strong sales in the Southern U.S. where the 'dressing up for tailgate' culture is strong. Most of the designers are based in the U.S. Koontz says their ultimate goal is to have all product "Made in the U.S.A." Koontz and Durkin are hoping the variety of fashion-forward options will drive new and returning customers to their website any time they want to have the best fashion sense showing off their team spirit. Just like in locker rooms across the country, the talk in the Koontz and Durkin households does not include the word, "failure."
"First, it's not going to fail. They're focused on success - not failure. And I'm not at all apprehensive because it's a calculated risk. I'm sure Kevin, Missy's husband, feels the same way. Missy and Shannon are really intelligent, hard workers and have done tons of research and planning, so they mitigate much of the risk. Shannon supported me through the creation of two businesses, one of which was established months before the economy crumbled in 2008. We've been through significant challenges, but we don't look at Bourbon and Grits Boutique as a challenge. It's an opportunity," says Hoyle Koontz.
Koontz says she and Durkin have committed to a one year, five year and ten year plan. The first year, they will be focused on establishing the brand while maintaining efficacy excellent customer service.
"By the five-year point, we hope to have incorporated other lines, possibly men and kids, a "little black dress" line, a "spring break" line and others. Regarding the 10-year goal, our business model relies primarily on web-based technologies, whether it be our store or social media marketing. Since that technology and our market are constantly evolving, we'll have to evolve as well to meet the needs of our customers," says Koontz.
Visit Bourbon & Grits Boutique to choose the fashion you think will score big at today's big games, including N.C. State, Georgia Tech., Virginia Tech and more and COMMENT below if you think this business will be a Hit or Miss.
Shannon Koontz: "Best advice: learn to ask for help. Don't go into it pretending that you know everything. People respect honesty and want to help if you are humbled enough to admit that. I love the people that we've met in the fashion industry because they seem to find our inexperience endearing. Apparently our personalities are entertaining - one vendor commented at the Atlanta Market that we could have our own reality show! Other general advice, take calculated risks. It's important to take a chance if you believe you have a good idea, but approach it with a lot of planning. And establish a strong work ethic. It takes a LOT of work to start and sustain your own business."
Missy Durkin: "Well, in my opinion, to start your own business, you need to have a true vision of what your goals will be and be in love with working for free until those goals are met. I feel you must have strong confidence in yourself and your vision, yet enter with a huge dose of humility that you do not know everything. This attitude will help your listening skills to hear others' brilliance and be able to weed out the ideas or attitudes that are not a part of your vision."