Many people would cringe at the thought of working side-by-side with a parent, but Kelsey Bulmer isn’t one of them.
Bulmer and her mother Jill have been working together since last September when the duo opened Cerulean Boutique in downtown St. Albert.
“We’re each other’s best friend,” Kelsey said. “We get along really well and we really enjoy what we do, so it doesn’t feel like work.”
Jill said the pair is a successful team as a result of their individual skills — Kelsey excels at marketing and service while Jill focuses on finances.
“We find that we’re an excellent partnership because her skill set is a complement to my skill set,” she said.
Cerulean Boutique is a high-end shop targeting the 40 to 65 demographic.
“What we’re offering is exactly what they’re wanting. They don’t want to dress more conservatively and more maturely because they’re older,” Kelsey said. “They want to dress very classic but have really elegant, sophisticated and trendy pieces intermingled.”
A considerable amount of work went into the boutique before doors opened last year.
Although she knew from her teenage years that she wanted to own and operate a retail store, Kelsey pursued a bachelor of commerce degree at the University of Alberta before making her dream a reality.
“I focused my degree on opening this store,” she said. “We were very much dedicated to opening this type of store.”
The pair said they are pleasantly surprised by the success of their business, adding they have been able to overcome a handful of challenges along the way.
Finding a location that met their criteria for space, windows and parking, while being surrounded by complementary businesses in a high-traffic area, wasn’t easy to come by.
When they found a location on St. Joseph Street that had been vacant for two years, it met and exceeded their needs.
“We love the downtown core,” Kelsey said. “I think this downtown core has great potential to be the next shopping district in the Edmonton area.”
Another hurdle was finding a name that wasn’t already registered in the province. After three attempts, they settled on Cerulean Boutique, a name that comes from a “fashion-forward” colour of the same name.
The largest challenge they faced, however, was correctly identifying and engaging their target demographic, which was initially thought to be a younger crowd.
“We’re going outside our conventional marketing and we’re trying to find different ways to market, as well as using social media to our fullest advantage,” Kelsey said.
While they use social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with consumers, the pair agreed that it isn’t the primary way to reach their buyers. Using mail-outs, as opposed to electronic messages like emails, are more effective in reaching their target market.
Despite the challenges, they have been able to grow their dream business while strengthening their mother-daughter relationship.
“We both have the same goal in mind so we’re able to strive for them everyday,” Kelsey said. “We just have a really good time and that’s something that is really important for us.”