Just three years ago, business owner Lisa Looney and her daughter, Kathleen, were bedazzling flip-flops for friends. Now they dream of spreading their Chandler-based fashion boutique Valleywide.
The mother-daughter duo’s shop, KatyBug Faye, recently opened a second location in Chandler – this time in the Casa Paloma shopping center on Ray Road near Interstate 10.
Lisa Looney, who holds an accounting degree and has experience in corporate taxes, said she knew the risks of a business startup in a recession. Despite the state of the economy, she was confident that working with a good concept in an area where there was a market would work in her favor. Plus, the shops offer a great way to interact with her 14-year-old daughter and teach her about operating a business.
The boutique sells clothing and accessories targeted to mothers and daughters ages 15-50. It carries junior and misses sizing, and Looney said she tries to keep the merchandise affordable. Most products, excluding denim and some handbags, are priced under $50.
The new location at Casa Paloma is surrounded by stores like Francesca’s Collections, Paris Paris and Banana Republic. The colorful burst of KatyBug Faye creates a curb appeal that draws customers in. It is a moderately sized shop, full of glittering decor and clothes in most colors on the spectrum. Multiple racks of dresses and blouses greet customers at the front of the store, and lead back to the shelves of denim and jewelry. The vibrant boutique gives the feeling of a luxurious shopping experience, without the designer price tag.
The boutique is named for Kathleen, whose full name is Kathleen Faye, and it is combined with her childhood nickname, KatyBug. Looney seizes the opportunity to teach the high school freshman about entrepreneurship, building a business and making important decisions. Her daughter also helps select merchandise for the shops.
Looney handles business aspects of the shops, maintaining all the bookkeeping for both locations.
“It’s never work to me,” Looney said. “I love the business challenge, the challenge of running my own business.”
Looney also believes in hiring qualified employees. Experienced workers may require more compensation, but Looney said they are able to operate the boutique on their own, giving her more time to focus on growth.
KatyBug Faye’s first location at Gilbert Road and Chandler Heights was self-funded. When it opened a few years ago, small-business financing was nearly impossible to attain. The success of the first location, and the ability to acquire financing, allowed for a smooth opening of a second shop – and the hope of future expansion is on the horizon.
“I would like to do something in the Northwest Valley eventually,” Looney said. “I have quite a few locations in my mind that I’d like to gradually expand to.”
After 12 years of staying home with the kids, Looney was excited to get back to work, and this time, bring her children along. She finds it to be a great opportunity to teach, as well as inspire them.
“My daughter says to me, ‘Mom, I am so proud of you,’” Looney said.
Kathleen accompanies her mother to markets in Los Angeles and New York City, and also models for the boutique. A young girl with a passion for fashion, the rise of KatyBug Faye was like a dream come true to her.
The boutique succeeds in pleasing both mothers and daughters because Looney purchases merchandise with the help of her daughter. She teaches Kathleen to keep her customers in mind when pulling products.
Looney buys most merchandise from markets in Los Angeles, and also attends Magic, a biannual fashion trade show in Las Vegas. She is also on the lookout for local designers with custom-made merchandise.
KatyBug Faye has had its own private label for more than a year, and Looney sees this as an opportunity for her daughter to contribute to a fashion line, as her goal in life is to become a designer.
The variety of brands carried by KatyBug Faye also allows all customers to have options. Staff is hired and trained to assess customer body types, know what will suit them, and also to help style customers who are interested. Looney said she likes to think they specialize in dressing people, because that is what they love to do.
KatyBug Faye’s second location opened on Sept. 21.