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Entrepreneurs: Rebellious Idea: Mix Value, Style at New Clothing Store

Entrepreneurs: Rebellious Idea: Mix Value, Style at New Clothing Store

Billings Gazette, Billings, Montana

August 24, 2009

Aug. 23—You’ve got to admire Kari Daigneau’s timing.

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Just as the economy was tanking, she was sinking her money into a clothing consignment store in Billings. The store specializes in brand names such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Lucky Brand, True Religion, Aeropostale, Polo and many others.

“People are being more cautious with their money,” Daigneau said. “They realize they can dress nice and look nice and be careful with their money, too.”

The green movement hasn’t hurt either.

“I had one customer come in who said she had vowed to purchase only pre-owned clothing for a year,” she said.

Prior to his death in 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr. founded what politically-themed magazine?

She has had customers recently with kids headed back to school, and a lot of customers sell their name-brand clothing so they can buy more name-brand clothing.

“Some people buy things and they’re so happy because they wouldn’t be able to buy some of these things brand-new. They’re ecstatic,” she said.

Daigneau owns The Rebel clothing store at 2340 Grand Ave. in Billings. She can be reached at 839-2308 or through her Web site, www.therebelclothing.com. Here’s what else she had to say about starting her own business and staying ahead of the steep learning curve.

What is the nature of your business?

New and consigned clothing for the trendy “tween,” teen and adult. We offer extremely affordable prices on name-brand items.

Why did you start this business?

In this day and age, we wanted to offer a trendy, fun atmosphere filled with name-brand clothing and apparel. We have amazing items for 60 to 80 percent less than you’d pay new.

Where did startup funding come from?

We really wanted to start debt-free. We purchased many items from charities or recycling businesses here in Billings (exterior metal from the Restore and Pacific Steel, chairs from the Montana Rescue Mission, mirrors from Goodwill) to remodel and transform our retail space.

What are the biggest challenges in running the business?

Keeping up with the massive amounts of consignment items people bring in daily. It’s so amazing and rewarding but time-consuming. However, since there has been a huge response, it means a lot of variety, and we are more than thrilled with that. It’s worth the extra time involved.

What was done to overcome those challenges?

We work as a family to sort, tag, iron and hang as quickly as possible. My husband and I have seven kids combined, so if the Brady Bunch can be harmonious, so can we.

What is being done to expand the business?

Word-of-mouth has been so encouraging to see. Every day, several people come in because they heard about us from a friend, etc. Also phone book ads, magazine interviews, Web sites, flyers, etc.

Your best business decisions?

To start with sizes from 6x (youth) and go all the way up. Our location is awesome also because it is sandwiched between Exotic Pets and Shades of Summer Tanning.

Your worst business mistake?

I can’t think of any yet. Hopefully it stays that way.

I would have allowed more money in our budget for advertising had I known how costly in can be.

What advice do you have for someone running a business?

Have plenty of business cards and get a Web site ASAP. We get a lot of consignors from our Web site alone, www.therebelclothing.com.

How many workers do you employ?

One (me), except for when my husband and kids help out.

What is your five-year plan for the business?

Three more locations, as well as getting our nonprofit organization well-established. When items don’t sell or aren’t what we are looking for, we want to be able to provide those items free to kids and parents in need.

What question would you ask other entrepreneurs?

What do you feel was the key component to your success?

If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would your dream job be?

Providing free haircuts and clothing to people in need. If you are in a position to help someone, why wouldn’t you? I’m a giver and I love to help people who need a break.