Rookie: Jenny Boutay
What started a college project has grown into a fully functioning boutique with Rookie Jenny Boutay as the owner and operator of Mavin, an apparel and accessories shop for women of all ages.
Mavin initially started as a jewelry boutique. For her senior capstone Jenny wanted to break away from the traditional so she produced a handmade jewelry line. Jenny knew she wanted to do apparel, so instead of being a designer she became a buyer. Figuring that she had great style and knew what and where to shop she started buying apparel for Mavin. Her first trip to the fashion tradeshow Magic was when she was about 20 with the Stephens College fashion group where she learned how to meet vendors and when she was 23 she went to market by herself for Mavin. The experience was overwhelming, but she learned and began to know which companies she wanted to buy from. She says the best way to learn about the industry is to do it yourself and learn as you go. From meeting with vendors, to learning how to code for her website she dived in. “Take a leap of faith. Have a well thought out plan but make sure to adjust along the way. Persevere, be persistent, because if you really want it you will make it happen…It’s a roller coaster, there’s some real highs and real lows…keep pushing yourself and challenging yourself,” she offers as advice.
Mavin goods were initially sold online and then she returned to Columbia, MO and began to do trunk shows. She loves trunk shows because she gets to have personal relationships with her customers. It’s the customer relations that helps the longevity of her business. Mavin trunk shows are private parties or partnered with organizations in the Missouri area, from the campus of Mizzou to St. Louis and Kansas City. Last year, Jenny did 42 trunk shows, the biggest of which was in Kansas City which had from 20,000-30,000 attendees.
She is quick to state that she learned a lot growing up from her parents, who owned a food truck in California. They spent weekends traveling to cities, so Jenny embraces the nomadic lifestyle. Also, seeing her parents Jenny knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur and she is quick to state her parents are her motivation. Jenny’s parents immigrated to America from Vientiane, Laos, speaking very little English and lacking proper education. “If they could take a risk and start a business when I was younger, I knew I could make it as an entrepreneur as well. I have no excuses,” she says.
Jenny is proud that she is able to pursue Mavin full time, “I wasn’t there to chase the money, I was there to chase the freedom.” She quit her job last year and doesn’t regret it. She wants to build more movement online and continue to develop her personal relationships to be categorized as the best boutique in Columbia, MO. “Life is too short not to go for it. If you really believe in it go for it. There were times when I doubted myself, but if you want it just go for it and make it happen. You don’t want to regret anything.”