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How One Startup Turned Small Clothing Into Big Business



Fed-up with the instability that came with working in the corporate sector, Elizabeth Bates chose to take the plunge and fought to create her own sense of stability by founding one of San Diego’s first environmentally friendly home-cleaning companies. It turns out that 26-year-old Bates had a knack for entrepreneurship, and was able to grow her business into one of San Diego’s highest rated cleaning companies.


That was 7 years ago. As luck (or good business strategy) would have it Bates’ blood, sweat, and tears paid off, and in 2011 she was able to sell the company for a profit. Elizabeth invested this self-generated capital into what she describes as her “dream startup.”




Investing in a dream

Coming in at an even five feet, Elizabeth was all too familiar with how challenging it can be for petite women to find clothing in their size without sacrificing style or quality. In keeping with her knack for finding inspiration in frustration, Bates came up with the idea of opening an online clothing “boutique” that offered clothing exclusively for women under 5 feet 4 inches.


After a little research, Bates realized she wasn’t alone in the fashion desert. It turns out that 47% of American females (who are 20-years-old or older) are 5’4” or shorter. These numbers stand in stark contrast to the very limited selection of clothing that is designed for petite women. Seeing this gap in the market, Bates went for it and opened The Petite Shop.




Speaking to customers’ needs

Finding clothing that customers would crave was not an easy task. Bates is pretty open about how much of a challenge finding fashion forward pieces in petite sizes is. Despite the challenges, she has managed to build an inventory that includes clothing from independent designers, vintage collections, and well-known lines.


Finding cute clothes wasn’t the only challenge though. ThePetiteShop set out to connect with a sizable segment of the female population, and turn their understandable frustration into a sustainable appreciation for a company that was paying attention to their needs.


Screenshot at Aug 28 11-36-44


Elizabeth and her team have been very creative in turning their company’s customer outreach plan into a two-way forum that both clients and providers stand to benefit from. The website is totally adorable and user-friendly, but it’s the use of their blog and Facebook page that really stands out.


Delivering the boutique shopping experience online

The Petite Shop’s blog and Facebook have a unique mix of content. In addition to providing a platform for customers to communicate their needs and frustrations, the company’s social media components mix humor with trends in petite fashion. This mix does more than engage potential clients, it also gives a small-town boutique feel to what is normally a very sterile online shopping experience.


Customers may get drawn in by the site’s personality, but its inventory is the element that converts casual browsers into return-customers. The online shop offers everything from bootcut jeans (a rare find for anyone under 5’4”) to dresses for work or play. This may seem standard, but sets itself apart from the competition by realizing shorter customers come in all sizes, so their inventory ranges from 000 to size 16 petite.


Bate’s connection to her customers needs along with her fun, personalized marketing and social media strategies has combined to create a stand out company. realized that customers were fed up with one-size-fits-all online retail and has done something about it. Closing thought? Well it looks like Bates has given the industry a whole new way to measure success.


Photo Credits

The Petite Shop | Courtesy of Startup Founder

Author : Adam Corl

Adam Corl is a New England native with a passion for sarcasm, wine that tastes expensive, and keeping his parents questioning his life choices. This combined with a keen interest in organizational behavior and social science research has lead him to fund his nomadic lifestyle through freelance writing and research endeavors. When he is not writing about bootstrapping magic and project management tools you can find his stuff at The Bubble, where he is a staff writer.

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