Hawaii Small BusinessWritten by Jason Ubay On 21 November 2012
Tips for starting a small business from Basique Threads

The following is an editorial from Laurie Oda and Nick Leong, owners of Basique Threads at Ward Centers. The store will be open Nov. 24 for Small Business Saturday.

Just about a year ago, Basique Threads opened for business at Ward Centers and since then, it has been a roller coaster of excitement, pride and fear. Above all, it has been an incredible learning experience that we could not have done without the support of our family, friends and loyal shoppers.

One of the things we learned very quickly was the importance of choosing the right location. At Ward Centers, we found a space that gave us access to our target customer base while having a management company which supported us and really cared about our success.

Not only does Ward Centers have an amazing vision for revitalizing the Kakaako area, but they take great pride in supporting the local businesses that call Ward Centers home. With shopping events like American Express’ Small Business Saturday, customers are able to enjoy an extra day of deals while supporting and celebrating the small businesses that make Ward Centers so unique.

But, a great location isn’t all that will take a small business to the top. Even with all the hustle and bustle of retail life, we have learned that we must always ask ourselves, “What more can we be doing?” Here are just a few tips we would share with others looking to start a small business:

  • Get Social: Social media is a great tool and good way to connect with your customers to get your information to them directly. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow us to have a more of a personal experience with our customers outside of the store environment. Rather than sending mass emails or postcards, we can answer questions and engage one-on-one with our customers about the products they are interested in most. We’ve quickly realized the importance of taking time to respond to each and every customer who posts a question on our social media pages, letting them know how important they are to us, and giving them the same level of customer service they would receive in our store.
  • Be Bendy: Every so often we take the time to step back and try and take an unbiased look at our business. We also talk shop with family and trusted friends at least once a week to check in and talk about marketing ideas and ways to make the store better. It’s important for us to set aside some regular time to analyze where we are and where we want to be. Not every idea, product, sale, or display will be a homerun. Sometimes you need to realize that the square peg doesn’t fit into the round hole.
  • Create a “Wow” Experience:  We want to wow our customers. At the end of the day we love what we do, and it inspires us to show up each day and deliver exceptional service. One of the most rewarding parts about owning a small business is that we can form relationships with our customer base. We’ve come to know our frequent customers by name, and give them a personal shopping experience each time they stop by. We also get to learn who each customer is and their own personal style to provide them with a more tailored and unique shopping experience.
  • Keep a strict budget: In the retail business, there’s always a “slow season” — usually right before the holidays. It’s important to have money in the bank that can get you through these slower periods. To do so, we create a budget based on our business that keeps us on track.

Basique Threads seeks to bring customers the latest trends and fashions. The store is located in Ward Warehouse and is open to the public Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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Managing Editor, Hawaii Business magazine. He's also representing the mag on Facebook and Twitter at @hawaiibusiness. You can follow him on Twitter at @jubay.

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