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Meet Stephanie Sechrest of Penelope Lane Boutique & Brussels Sprouts Boutique

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Sechrest.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Nearly seven years ago, I left the office life to start a pop up shop dedicated to dogs and the humans who love them. At the time it seemed like a crazy idea but ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I started out selling at small events like high school fundraisers and local craft shows then gradually moved on to particpating in larger events and boutique markets all over SoCal. I absolutley loved living this new “vendor life” but I also fell in love with the spirit and camaraderie of the events I vended at. The hustle and bustle of setting up my booth space, the anticipation of seeing the event come together and most especially the interaction between shoppers and fellow vendors. It was all so exciting to me and I loved being a part of this community of what I call “movers and makers”.

After several years of having my pop up dog boutique and vending at events all over Southern California, I had decided it was time to try my hand at curating and coordinating my own events. So in 2018, I started planning, researching and filling up notebooks with ideas. However, in the middle of all that planning I came across the unbelievable opportunity to become the new owner of a market that I not only loved participating in (12 of their events to be exact) but had aspired to model my own markets after, Penelope Lane Boutique. I was thrilled to be able to carry on a name that was well established within the handmade market community and make it my own. After months of planning and a lot of anxiety, the next step in my entrepreneurial dream was about to become a reality.

So with lots of love and overwhelming support from my husband, family and friends, I held my very first market in the Spring of 2019 at The Grand Event Center in Long Beach. We had 60+ participating vendors (some were even vendor friends I had met over the years that were ready and willing to support my new venture) and over 800 shoppers come through the doors to experience the new Penelope Lane Boutique! After the event was over, I remember being so overwhelmed with emotion that I had to hold back tears. It was just such a surreal moment to finally see my dreams realized and all come together. Later in the year, we held our Holiday Market which again had over 60 vendors and this time over 1000 shoppers in attendance! Unfortunately, soon after planning our entire 2020 Spring Market the Covid-19 virus put everything on hold and we had to postpone our next event. I still remain hopeful though and continue to map out new and creative ideas for when our markets return again soon.

Has it been a smooth road?
There has definatley been some bumps along the way. I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was a little girl so you name it, I tried it. Lemonade stand, gift basket making, Avon, Tupperware, cupcake catering and some others I’ve intentionally forgotten about. I had put all my effort into every idea I ever had but so many of them never got off the ground like I had hoped and it definatley started to take a toll on my insecurities AND my pocketbook. But knowing where I am in my career today I would say that anything you set out to do and believe in will always have it’s challenges. When I first started my pop up dog boutique there was definitely a lot of disappointment and self-doubt. Even now with planning and coordinating my own events, I’m still learning to keep those insecurities at bay.

I remember applying to be a vendor at as many events as I could handle when I first started. There were plenty of rejections along the way and many events where I never even got a customer. I’m not going to lie and say it never affected me. I would sometimes come home from an event and tell my husband “I don’t think this is going to work. Maybe I made a mistake in thinking I could do this”. But I just couldn’t give up. I knew I wanted this ever since I was a little girl playing “store” in my room or selling plastic bowls with puffy paint art to my mom’s clients at her salon. I’ve always wanted to have my own business and have an idea that was mine and make it successful. So to this day I continue to work hard to realize my dream, push through all the self doubt and learn from each and every expierence, good or bad.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Penelope Lane Boutique & Brussels Sprouts Dog Boutique + Barkery – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
With my pop up dog boutique, it was about me wanting to combine two things I loved. Dogs and being my own boss. I also wanted to create a shop that, as a devoted “dog mom”, I would love to shop at. So I started Brussels Sprouts Dog Boutique and Barkery. Brussels Sprouts because we are pet parents to two adorable Brussels Griffons. My shop specialized in making and selling decorated gourmet dog treats that were not only fun but also healthy, wheat-free and made with human-grade ingredients. I also offered a variety of trendy clothing and accessories for dogs like tutu dresses and formal bandannas. My shop was also popular for hosting a Pop Up Dog Park at the outdoor events I participated in. Guests and shoppers could bring their pups to play in our fenced in park complete with a ball pit, toys and lounge chairs!

Once I started my new venture, Penelope Lane Boutique, I had to put my dog boutique on hiatus so I could focus all my time and energy into creating and planning my markets. I absolutely LOVE everything about having my own market. I’m a planner and organizer by nature (my husband would call it a slight case of OCD) so having a business that requires nothing but planning, prepping and organizing is definitely in my lane. My markets are all about supporting and inspiring small businesses, makers and artists. I feel like I have a good pulse on what vendors want from a market because I am a vendor myself and have been for over six years. So when I plan my events, I always plan them with the vendors being my top priority. They are the heart of what my markets are all about. We hold two seasonal events in Long Beach in the Spring and in Fall/Winter. We are currently making plans to add more PLB markets and pop up events throughout the year in the LA and OC areas.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I have been and always will be a California girl. Los Angeles in particular holds a special place in my heart because I spent a lot of my childhood in East Los Angeles with my Nana who resided there almost her entire adult life. She never learned to drive so everywhere we went, we took the city buses or walked. I remember always being so excited to spend my weekends with her going to the shops on Whittier Blvd. and eating a vanilla dipped cone from our favorite ice cream shop, Bob’s Freeze on Beverly Blvd. My time spent in the city was mostly during the early/mid 80’s and things were different then. I haven’t been back to my Nana’s neighborhood in years (since she passed away) but the last time I was there I didn’t recognize much because it had changed in so many ways. I’ll always be grateful for all the memories I have of her though and the city she loved so much and called home.

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