“Fashionista” Allyson Holleb had been a woman’s clothing buyer in New York.
Her ambition was to start a handbag boutique, but she needed help with basics like formulating a business plan and putting it into action.
Allyson came to SCORE in July of 2006 and met SCORE counselor Mitchell Morris. With Mitch’s help, in April 2007, she opened Bess & Loie (named after her grandmothers), a 1500 square foot store located in the up-and-coming West Loop neighborhood of Chicago.
Allyson describes her Bess and Loie store as packed with beautiful bags, in casual atmosphere. “I’ve tried to make it an inviting place where customers feel welcome and relaxed. On any given day, you’re likely to find people hanging out on the comfy chairs, kicking back with a glass of wine, some chocolate and licorice, watching a Bears game or an old episode of Beverly Hills, 90210”.
The store carries women’s handbags of all shapes and sizes. It also offers wallets and small leather goods, jewelry, men’s ties, and other accessories including hats and scarves.
Allyson’s biggest challenge was juggling all the jobs in a retail establishment. She says she needed the “one-on-one accountability” from SCORE. Mitch “helped me get through the business plan process.”
Bess and Loie recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. Allyson’s next challenge is to grow sales through her website, www.bessandloie.com. She’ll be seeing more of her SCORE counselor to take her business to that next level.