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Behind the Biz | Butter Home

November 25, 2014

Nestled in an adorably quaint loft above Seattle’s Melrose Market, is Butter Home. This gem of a shop opened in November 2010 stock full of perfect little gifts, housewares, and lovely handmade goods. Within it’s first year of opening, Butter Home was featured in Seattle Magazine as the best new store in Seattle! This week, the stop celebrates its 4 year anniversary and is gearing up for another extremely busy holiday season. In fact, this Saturday, November 29 (Small Business Saturday), Butter Home will be hosting a holiday trunk show with yummy treats and mimosas from 10-3pm to enjoy while you shop. And as part of the American Express “Shop Small” initiative, Butter Home will have a spot from December 13-19 in one of the 12 holiday houses that are popping up in westlake area for 3 weeks next month. 

Claire Corley, the fabulous owner of Butter Home, has created a beautiful space to get lost in. The items in her shop are a beautiful curation of mostly locally, handmade goods. There are also plenty of items to browse in the shop’s online collection. I had such a wonderful morning with Claire, exploring her shop and chatting with her about how it all began, how wonderfully busy business has been these days, and her vision for the shop moving forward. I wanted to take home all of the jewelry, all of the brilliant handmade cards, and dish ware for my kitchen.

If you’re in Seattle, be sure to head over to Butter Home to pick up some holidays gifts. You won’t be disappointed as you peruse the folky collection you’ll find in that warm and welcoming loft. And remember to “shop small” this upcoming Saturday, November 29th and all throughout the holiday season!

Why did you decide to become a small business owner?
Having always worked for small businesses, it seemed doable.  I had experience in most areas of retail and customer service and knew I was capable of running a business. 

How has your business changed since you started? How would you like to see it grow?
BH is always changing.  From artists/product to larger business things, we are always moving along.  We hope to open another shop in the next few years as well as grow our web business. 

Owning your own business can be a huge risk financially. How have you handled this hurdle? What advice do you have for others who are trying to overcome the financial aspect of launching their own products or businesses?  
We were really really lucky to find a shop with relatively low rent in a market type of environment with built in foot traffic.  Also, initially we did a ton more consignment which kept costs down.  My husband was very supportive and I knew that if we failed I could get my old job back.  It is so funny to rely so heavily on something so unreliable but c’est la vie I guess. Advice to others-Be willing to adjust your vision and respond pragmatically to what is working or not working in your business.  Some of your ideas will not work and that is ok. 

Where can we find products to buy?  
Here in the shop or online at butterhomeseattle.com

What advice can you offer other small business owners?  
Be really nice to people in a genuine way and they will be nice to you.  Do what you say you are going to do.  My Dad used to always say, ‘Things only happen to those who show up’.  Show up.

What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome?  
Learning how to do and manage all of the financial paperwork was a tough hurdle. Though, now I find it very rewarding to have all of my ducks in a row.

How has being a small biz owner affected you personally?
Hmmm…  I am a ton more responsible.  Especially financially.  I also really value getting things done a lot more.  When you run your own business, it’s hard to make work things stay at work. You constantly think you should be doing something productive. Getting work things knocked off of the list is really important to me so my mind can be clear and present when I am not at work.  

Who is your ideal client?  
Anyone who appreciates timeless, well made goods and is really pleasant to be around.

Best moment of your career so far?  
There have been a lot of good ones, but getting voted Best New Gift Shop in Seattle Magazine our very first year was pretty awesome!

What advice would you give to your younger self?  
Sleep on it.

What is the most rewarding part of being a small biz owner?  
When the customers are as delighted as you are.

Employees?  
Are really hard to find. You want so much for them to read your mind but communication is key.  We have two awesome shop gals!!  I owe them so so much!!

What does a typical day look like?  
Hit snooze at least twice then on to the shower.  Coffee.  Do a few chores at home.  Then off to work…  Receive, price, and merchandise new inventory, help customers, clean, catch up on emails, stare out the window for a while, pack up any web orders, update the website, work on the accounting, look for new products, order products…  All interspersed with immense amounts of daydreaming and some snacks.  

What’s your immediate next step or next goal for the biz? Next milestone?  
I would like to open another shop in the next few years…  We will see.

What sets your business apart from competitors?  
Everything is well made and pretty timeless.  We carry a ton of independent artists which I think makes our inventory pretty unique and distinctive.  I love knowing that someone made a product by hand…  It makes it very intentional and special.

What advice do you have on how to finance and budget when running your own business?
Don’t overspend.  Pay as you go and don’t dig yourself into a hole.

How do you balance your different career roles and goals? What advice do you have to stay organized and efficient?  
Balance… Ha! Someday!  Staying organized makes me more efficient.  Do the boring and difficult things first so that you can have more mental room to be creative.

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