By Jackson Pham, Feb. 16, 2021
With a passion for fashion, Aileen Velazquez, a fifth-year apparel merchandising and management student, launched an online women’s clothing boutique with her sister last summer, transforming her dreams into reality.
After previously making fashion and lifestyle YouTube videos and creating an online mask business, the two sisters collaborated to relaunch their brand into a sister-owned online clothing store called Savsters Boutique, where they sell an assortment of women’s clothing.
“In the beginning, it was kind of a pandemic project because all we were doing were face masks … but that’s why we wanted to relaunch because we need to expand and to know what else is going to be for Savsters,” said Velazquez. “We both always loved clothing ever since we were little … so now we see it more as a long-term goal.”
Due to the popularity of mask production as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Velazquez began her business by selling masks as a way to get her foot into the fashion industry. With overwhelming support from customers, she reached out to her sister, Stephanie Velazquez, to collaborate. With Aileen in charge of the mask production process, Stephanie was tasked to manage the social media and marketing aspect of their joint business.
After taking a summer-long break from selling masks, they reserved their time to research how to expand into a clothing business, beginning with creating the website before proceeding to plan production.
Though she and her sister are aiming to design their own clothing in the near future, they are currently working with wholesale vendors to develop products for their boutique. When selecting the products, they gather inspiration from other clothing businesses using Instagram as a way to select the hottest trends but are continuously seeking new products based on their favorite styles.
“It’s kind of like a mall, there are so many vendors … and you buy it then and there,” said Velazquez. “You go in like you’re shopping and see what you like. Each vendor has a minimum purchase order for each item.”
The Savsters brand name was created by combining the first initial of her sister’s name, her name and their last name, which created “sav,” and the ending of the word “sisters.”
According to Velazquez, she experienced self-doubt and lack of motivation while running a full-time business, which was one of the biggest challenges in her entrepreneurial journey. However, her motivation today is driven by knowing that she and her sister are always able to inspire one another — even through hardships.
Even with the potential of running into disagreements while working together, one of their goals through this experience is to prove that family can work together. Velazquez always wanted to start a business with her sister even though her sister’s original career path was in human development.
Back in high school, Velazquez had a dilemma on choosing where her career path was heading, whether that was fashion or nursing. Although she determined that nursing would be a more stable route, she decided to follow her dreams and chose a major that she was passionate about. She felt more confident in her choice after enrolling at Cal Poly Pomona, where she gained more experience and expertise in apparel production and retailing.
At the beginning, she struggled to find a balance between being a full-time college student, working part-time in retail and running her online business. Outside of Savsters Boutique, her sister also works full-time as a director at a childcare organization which limited both of their schedules.
Velazquez hopes to expand the business and create a men’s clothing line in which she and her sister would be able to collaborate with their brother. One of their top priorities is to open an in-person boutique to grow their brand even further.
“Just do it and learn and grow with your business because you are never going to be ready,” said Velazquez.
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