Trio sells “casual-trendy” CLOTHING out of a school bus
By Leanna Gerry
For many people, business takes place apart from the family. But for April Larson, Megan Greer Wagner and Sarah Showers Wagner, family is the center of business. With the goal of eventually becoming stay-at-home-mothers, the three sisters-in-law launched Sistique Boutique, a primarily online clothing store that offers affordable attire for women. The supplemental income allows the busy moms more time with their growing families as they work alongside their loved ones.
“WE BOUGHT A BUS”
Sistique Boutique made its debut in the fall of 2017 after the sisters-in-law decided that it offered the most lucrative after-hour opportunities for them. “Shopping, clothes, minimal start-up costs, being with our kids, girl time—all of it combined into this big thing!” says April. Though they began with the intention of marketing athletic wear, the sisters now sell shoes and clothing styles that Megan terms “casual-trendy.” The selection is certainly stylish, but it is also cost-effective.
April explains this dedication to reasonable prices from a mother’s perspective, “We are moms, and we are frugal, but we want to have affordable, cute, trendy clothes.” Variety, both in price and style, is a priority for Sistique as well, and the sisters work hard to keep their inventory stocked with products manufactured in the U.S.
A year after start-up, the fledgling business owners purchased a renovated school bus that clients voted to name Roxy. The 1993 Bluebird sports a blue stripe, the Sistique title and eyelashes on her headlights. “She’s a gypsy,” says Sarah. Though Roxy has a habit of overheating and leaking gas and AC fluid, she is home to Sistique’s moving inventory of clothes—complete with a fitting room. The women work especially hard to ensure that they follow all regulations for operating Roxy, since driver Sarah is intent on staying out of jail. “It would be funny,” quips Megan, but Sarah is not convinced.
While they own the business, the sisters of Sistique do not run the boutique all alone. Rather, they acknowledge the behind-the-scenes help of their parents and the support of their children and husbands. In fact, the entire family contributed at the 2018 Rochester Women’s Fall Expo, where the sisters had the chance to exhibit. “Our husbands came!” gushes Megan, and April says, “Everyone just stepped in and helped.”
April notices that this family effort is one that not everyone understands. “People will ask us, ‘How do you guys mix business and family?’ A big thing for that is just realizing that we are all in this together. And while we might not always agree, that doesn’t change that we are all trying to do this,” she says. She admits that the task is not always easy, but communication and caring help the families resolve their differences.
FROM SISTIQUE TO MYSTIQUE
The trio plans to return to the Expo this year with Roxy in tow. They appear at other events, too, such as the Kellogg Watermelon Festival, Plainview’s weekly Music, Munchies and Market and the Minneapolis Holiday Boutique at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Because of the obvious growth, expansion looms in the near future for Sistique Boutique. “We are always changing, kind of trying to adapt to our business and make it grow,” Sarah explains. Though she confirms that future development does not include replacing Roxy with a bigger vehicle, the rest of the sisters’ plans remain a mystery. Wherever the women decide to take Sistique from here, it seems they have the essential tools for success.
“It’s just a matter of how you run your business, how you build your clientele, how you treat your customers,” April says. “And how you treat each other,” adds Sarah as Megan nods in agreement. “It’s a good thing that we have each one of us. We couldn’t do it without each other.”
Leanna Gerry is an intern writer for Rochester Women magazine and is a senior at St. Mary’s University Minnesota.