Alumna creates e-boutique, builds online business
It is a testament to the fast-paced times when a business goes online before it gets a building, but art education alumna, and Natchitoches native, Camille Harrington Quintana an opportunity in creating a business online first.
"Having a storefront is so expensive," Quintana said. "I didn't want to jump immediately from a day job, where I have a paycheck coming, to something that I was unsure about."
After months of brainstorming and planning, Carolina Moon was born, an e-boutique selling young female fashion, including clothing, jewelry, and accessories.
As an art education major at LSU, Quintana didn't always have the online shop in her plans.
"After graduating in 2007, I moved to New Orleans and got a teaching job," she said. "I got moved around because they kept cutting the arts and, eventually, I didn't have a job because they cut the arts in public schools."
Upon leaving teaching, Quintana started working full time at a bank, but was always thinking about where her creativity could take her.
"I have a friend who makes jewelry and she was talking about all of this stuff that she's been doing and I was thinking, 'I can do something,'" she said. "So I started thinking about what I like and what I'm good at and what I could do online, and I came up with this."
From thought to fruition, Carolina Moon took about six months to create. Since its launch February 1, Quintana said, she's received local and national business, as well as lots of support from family and friends.
"People can order online of course," she said. "But I also do trunk shows and different events. I've done Junior League and sorority events in New Orleans and will be coming to LSU soon."
Quintana purchases the items for Carolina Moon herself, keeping in mind the look and style of her customer.
"There are lots of traditional and conservative clothes, but there's something special, an edge, some sort of a twist," she said. "When I'm buying the items, I try to say, 'Okay, here's what I would go for,' and then just widen the spectrum on either side. So, I've got things that aren't necessarily my taste, but I'm not sacrificing my aesthetic."
Quintana is making an effort to keep her e-boutique an affordable place for women to shop.
"You go on Magazine Street and it's hard to find good stuff that you want and that you can afford," she said. "If I'm not spending money like that, I know other people aren't. I wanted to get something that's affordable and accessible to the normal girl out there, so I'm stuck on not selling anything that's more than $100."
Quintana named the online shop after her mother, Caroline, who was nicknamed Carolina Moon by Quintana's grandfather. She said the biggest challenge in having an online business is spreading the name.
"I want to grow and get to a point where the business is recognized," she said. "But it takes getting your name out there and letting people know what I can do."
Quintana offers personal styling as part of Carolina Moon, as well as other services not normally associated with physical boutiques.
"Everything that falls under fashion, I can do," she said. "I don't have a storefront, so I'm flexible. I can do the styling; I can help you clean out your closet and figure out how to wear that t-shirt that's four years old. I can bring my store to your house because you just had a baby."
In her three- to five-year plan, Quintana said, she would like to open a storefront, once she gets a good following.
"The negative side to being online is that you don't have a storefront that people pass by and just pop in," she said. "It is the information age and social media helps me get my name out there, but I really want to be respected in the business world."
Although Carolina Moon wasn't in the plan when Quintana was studying at LSU, she said her arts education courses are still helping her in her online business.
"I had a professor tell me, 'Keep doing it how you do it. What you see, someone else is going to see differently, but because it's art, it's going to be appreciated by somebody out there,'" she said. "With all of this – the clothes, the fashion, color and prints – it's basically art, just in fabric form. It's about finding what works and being able to just say someone isn't going to like it, but someone else is, and it's self-expression."