The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way. Meet Rachel Sauter of Leopard Boutique, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.
RACHEL SAUTER: LEOPARD
OWNER SINCE: October, 2012
What made you decide to open your own shop?
I’ve worked in retail from the time I turned sixteen but I guess it all started when I was growing up. My favorite thing was playing “store” in my mom’s closet. My first job in retail during high school was at Plato’s Closet where I became familiar with clothing brands. I knew I wanted to stay in fashion so I studied fashion merchandising in Los Angeles and Chicago and later managed a store in Columbia, Missouri called Britches while my husband was in Law School. The store owner taught me so much about owning a boutique.
I had several goals in mind when I decided to open up my own shop. I wanted it to be for women of all ages and walks of life, to have excellent customer service, and prices that wouldn’t break the bank. From there, Leopard was born.
Shortly after, when I had my first child, I discovered that finding a work, life balance was difficult and something I had to learn. Then in May 2015, when I was expecting my second daughter, we opened our second store in St. Charles. The location was perfect and we had staff who wanted to work more hours than we could offer at the one shop, so it was a natural step for us. For a small business owner, this is a rare thing! I am so grateful for the wonderful, dedicated people who work at Leopard.
What is your favorite thing about owning a boutique?
I love the relationships that I’ve built. I’ve met so many inspiring, amazing people that walk through my door. My customers have a million other places where they could shop so I’m incredibly grateful that they choose to support Leopard. I’ll never take this for granted!
What is next for Leopard?
We are excited because our Webster Groves store is about to get remodeled! We also just started a Leopard blog that has gotten great feedback from our customers and we recently launched our “modeling moms” social media program. We wanted Leopard’s social media to better reflect our customer base so we decided what better way than to highlight them as models. We style customers who want to participate, photograph them and put them in our Instagram and Facebook posts. It’s really been amazing! We love showing how fabulous our customers look in the clothes.
What is your favorite thing in the store?
I think our Level 99 jeans are my favorite thing. They fit amazing and we carry so many styles and washes. (See below).
What advice would you give someone wanting to open a boutique?
I think a person should work in retail before opening their own boutique. It’s important to have an understanding of the hours and the customer service. As a boutique owner you’ll have to be there working in the shop and getting to know your customers to be successful.
What would you be doing if you didn’t own a shop?
I’d be a personal grocery shopper. I love grocery stores! I look at grocery shopping much like regular shopping. I like to mix it up. If I’m not at home or at Leopard you can probably find me at the grocery store. I shop Lucky’s, Aldi’s, Dierbergs, Schnucks, Whole Foods, Straubs, you name it, I’m there!