Ellen Eppie is the Founder and Chief Curator of Scooch A Mi Boutique. With her daughters grown and out on their own, Ellen knew she had more to give.
After years of volunteer work and fundraising, Ellen decided to combine her experience in the non-profit word with her love of artisan jewelry, her joy of finding just the right gifts and her intrigue with travel into a distinctive boutique.
Scooch A Mi Boutique reflects Ellen’s values, dedication to family, friends, and community. It’s all about Giving Back – a Purchase with a Purpose!
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I still have more to give. I wanted to work at something but have more control over the time I would spend doing it and what I would be doing. Now starting a business is not for the weak of heart. You have to be ready and open to learn, try, succeed, fail and try again.
Tell us about your business.
Scooch A Mi features handmade jewelry, accessories, and gifts from around the world that Give Back. You not only make a purchase, you make a purchase with a purpose.
You leave the boutique with a beautifully wrapped item that has a story all its own. Making your shopping experience simple and inspiring is the focus of Scooch A Mi. Bringing out your individuality and style is the result of the unique offerings Scooch has.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in Chatham, NJ. It’s a little off the main street so I have to work harder to let people know I’m here. I have been in business for 10 months.
In that time I have donated to many local charities:
- Halos for Angels
- Mallory’s Army
- Family Promise of Morris County
- Moms Demand Action
- Foundation for Morristown Medical Center
- Fishawack Festival
I even joined the Chatham, NJ Rotary Club to continue my service. I have donated to local schools because I feel education is incredibly important. This is all in addition to the handcrafted merchandise I sell that helps communities and individuals worldwide.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Getting Scooch A Mi up and running required a huge learning curve. I researched and taught myself all aspects of business.
- I joined Women’s Empowerment Groups to ask questions and meet like-minded entrepreneurs.
- I networked to develop partnerships which often turned out as friendships which is an amazing bonus.
- I registered the business in NJ.
- Found someone to create a website that I would ultimately be able to manage.
- Sought out wholesalers, way to process credit cards, learned QuickBooks, accounting and bookkeeping procedures.
- Renovated and set up my space.
- I knew I had to become proficient with social media, how to post, what to post.
- Newsletters and a blog had to follow quickly.
I continue to learn and to simplify my processes. I can now recognize when I need to hire someone to help me. Most importantly, I know I can’t do it all and there are people out there who love doing some of the things I like to do least or can’t devote the time to. It’s a journey that I love and can’t wait to see the next destination!
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Getting out and participating in the community, social media, newsletters and blogs. My mission is “Mindful Kindness Through Giving Back And Empowering Others”. Getting this message out is key.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
One of my biggest challenges was letting the Chatham NJ and other local communities know Scooch A Mi Boutique was opening right in town and is here to serve them.
How did you overcome these challenges?
To make the local communities aware that Scooch A Mi Boutique is here to serve them, I had to get right on top of our publicity and marketing. I got out there and networked, made connections and most importantly built relationships with other women entrepreneurs, local businesses, and mom’s groups.
This did not happen overnight. It took time, and effort but the rewards are great. I have so many like-minded new friends and formed partnerships with some talented artists, artisans, and business owners.
The renovation of the boutique took an entire summer, so I shared it on Facebook and then learned how to navigate the other forms of social media: Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and created a newsletter and a blog.
When it was time to open our doors, I had a huge launch party with one of the Chatham, NJ Council Members cutting the ribbon for the boutique.
Today, I host events featuring the many gifted, talented and brilliant women entrepreneurs I am so lucky to call friends. Scooch A Mi hosts a Knit Night and a Book Club. So, I really am becoming part of the community.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I have surrounded myself with so many positive, like-minded women. You must have a tribe. I don’t need to say, and I couldn’t possibly say, that I did this all on my own.
There are an extraordinary number of influential people who help me get through each day – whether it’s in person, in an email, phone call, or on social media.
Some are dear friends, some are complete strangers. Their uplifting go get ‘em spirits absolutely keep me lifted. We all have our ups and downs and are there for each other.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Scooch A Mi Boutique features handmade jewelry, accessories, and gift that are unique by nature and Give Back. This mission of Mindful Kindness Through Giving Back is what differentiates us.
Many Mompreneurs hold workshops and events at Scooch. These women have expertise in different fields and I would like the community to know where they can find help in these areas.
Being part of the community is important. It’s not all about what you can take – it’s all about what you can give. I like to think that I am a resource for women, we need to help each other, a service for those who don’t love to shop.
I can simplify that by helping you choose a gift, wrap it and send you on your way with a smile on your face, a gift in your hand and a story to share about how the gift is giving someone a hand up.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Use my vulnerability to my advantage. Don’t let the fear of not being perfect or not knowing everything get in my way of trying something new.
Failure isn’t really a negative thing. You try something out, it either works or it doesn’t. It isn’t the end of the world if it doesn’t. Drop back and punt. You can make something good out of most efforts.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
GO FOR IT!
Learn as much as you can as quickly as you can, but you don’t have to know it all. You can’t, and you won’t have the time to even do it all.
Get the basics down, make sure you are forming a legal business, protect your business and figure out how to get all the processes (accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, etc.) in motion. You will have to build on them as you go unless you have huge financial backing.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My favorite resources are the women and men I meet who also have businesses. We share what we know, we promote each other, we are there for each other.
Facebook Groups are great in that you can post a question and people from all over the world will respond. There are many groups for Women and Moms in business and the members are ready to help each other.
I read articles in Entrepreneur Magazine, listen to podcasts, attend workshops and lectures that feature a topic that will help me grow my business.
I use QuickBooks, MailChimp for newsletters, Wix for my website, Meetup for local business gatherings. These are all easy to navigate.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
The Year of Yes by Shondra Rhimes.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Funny you should ask this. I would like to learn how to write articles to pitch to the media. I would like to be featured in magazines, local and regional news show, and by bloggers and influencers.
I feel I can really share my story. A woman, college graduate, stay at home mom who raised two amazing daughters, managed a household, volunteered for school and community causes, fundraised hundreds of thousands of dollars for these causes, chaired fashion shows and galas, worked in the non-profit arena and in retail.
Then began a whole new chapter-you can even say a whole new book…. her own boutique!
Where do I fit in?
- No empty nest syndrome here! I’m too busy!
- Advocate of Giving Back as a way of life
- Empowerer of Women
- You’re Never too Old!
- Women in Business
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I am amping up to continue to get the word out that Scooch A Mi Boutique is here to help bring out our customers’ individuality by providing the unique, handmade jewelry, accessories that Give Back.
I want men as well as women to know I will help them with their gift-giving needs. Scooch also provides virtual shopping so clients can shop from afar. I will have their purchases wrapped and ready to go or mail them out. Social media, partnering with other local businesses, supporting community events and my newsletters are how I will achieve this.
Reaching the young moms in the community is a goal for me. Scooch has many free events that provide support and information. I will contact area schools and mom groups to share the events and offer Scooch as a means of fun and fundraising.
I would like the men of the community to know there is a local shop that can simplify their shopping needs. This is a challenge for me. I am asking my “tribe” how they think I should go about doing this.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.