Project description

Business Owners: Abby Kessler and Katie Lubieski
Business: Smak Parlour
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Meet Abby & Katie
From age fifteen, Abby and Katie have shared a passion for the fashion design industry. As they grew up, they spent their time designing and constructing garments together. It’s no surprise this led them to co-own their own fashion clothing line, Smak Clothing. Abby and Katie started off working in a local clothing boutique in high school. While the owners were away on vacation, they were both given the responsibility to run the boutique. This experience ignited their dream of one day owning their own fashion boutique together and that dream has now become a successful reality. 

About Smak Parlour
Smak Parlor isn’t just your typical clothing boutique. They explained, “Smak Parlour currently operates a brick and mortar boutique, the ‘Fashion Truck’, and an e-commerce website. We carry unique clothing and jewelry from indie designers and offer special pieces to our customers at affordable price-points. We also offer our own limited-edition clothing line, designed in-house and made in the USA.”

Smack Parlour’s Journey
Prior to the launch of Smak Parlour, Abby and Katie researched and mapped out their vision for the company. Then after college, they moved to New York and both worked various positions in the garment district. They each invested their time and energy to gain invaluable hands-on industry experience that led them to take control and make the leap into their own business. “After September Eleventh, we moved back to Philly. We wanted control over our destiny and we knew it was the right time to start something.”

We’ve been best friends since we met at fifteen years old. We have always loved fashion and designing clothes together so it came very naturally. We had been planning to start a business since high school. It wasn’t until after college and working in the garment district in New York, that we moved back to Philly to start Smak Parlour. We wanted control over our destiny and knew it was the right time to start something.

— Abby Kessler, Co-Founder of Smak Parlor

Funding Their Dream
There are many ways to fund your business, Abby and Katie chose to first dig into their own pockets. From store fixtures to rent for their store location, they purchased everything on their own credit cards. “We put $60,000 on credit cards and had it paid off in four years! We were then able to obtain a small business loan to increase our inventory and grow from there.” Now that their business has established loyal customers, they feel they’ve reached a point where they can expand.  Abby and Katie both hope to fund their store expansion through their Kickstarter. “We need to reach our $15,000 goal on Kickstarter by the second of May!”

Surviving The Recession and The Lessons Learned
One of the greatest challenges Abby and Katie faced was making it through the recession of 2009. In order for their business to survive, they needed to be flexible and stay responsive to the current situation. “We made the necessary changes to bring affordable goods to our customers.” If you are looking to start a business, Abby and Katie’s advice is that you be open and responsive to change.  “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Research your industry and be ready for changes. If you’re not the kind of person who can be flexible and responsive to the needs of your business, entrepreneurship may not be for you.”