The owner of a women’s boutique in Denver is rolling new clothing racks into a Chicago outpost.
Michelle Rotter launched June Ruby as an online store in 2010 while she was on maternity leave from Google in the Windy City. She has since moved home to Colorado, opening brick-and-mortar stores in Grand Junction and in Stapleton.
Rotter has been hoping to open a shop closer to the east or west coast, to grow a same-day clothing delivery service where customers can try on garments at their home, buy what they want and send back the rest.
She thinks her new neighborhood just west of downtown is an area with the kind of busy women that crave that service.
“There are a lot of younger working couples, but also it’s an area where there are more and more families,” she said, adding that her 1116 West Madison St. address has good access to commuters working in nearby offices. “I really think that (personal shopping deliveries are) going to be the success of the company.”
The new shop is preparing to open in November. Rotter said buildout should cost about $25,000, not including inventory and marketing. To get started, a former Google colleague has signed on as a 30 percent shareholder in June Ruby, Rotter said, and will also help with business strategy.
In Chicago, Rotter hopes to replicate an in-home shopping service she has been developing in Stapleton over the past six months. Customers complete a short survey survey on the June Ruby website and place a $20 deposit. Then June Ruby picks out a selection of clothes to pack up and deliver to the customer that day.
Customers have one week to send back the clothes they don’t want to keep. They then pay an invoice or are reimbursed for the difference between their purchases and deposit if they buy less than $20 worth of clothing.
Rotter said the service is aimed at women short on time, like a customer who ordered a delivery of black dresses to wear to a bachelorette party.
Rotter, who grew up in Grand Junction and is a University of Colorado graduate, started stocking June Ruby while still working at Google. The goal was to find clothes for women like her, working mothers with young children.
“What sets us apart as far as product is that we are purchasing for a very specific demographic,” she said. “We think about, ‘Is this a quality item? Is this budget-friendly? Is this fashion-forward, but not too fashion forward? Is this going to be a family-friendly item?’”
After giving birth to her second of three children, Rotter and her husband decided to move closer to her family in Colorado and Rotter started to work on June Ruby full-time.
Using personal savings, Rotter and her sister opened the first June Ruby store in Grand Junction in 2014 and the Stapleton location in November last year. Chicago will be the chain’s smallest store at 1,200 square feet.
Today June Ruby is projecting it will exceed $1 million in sales by next year, Rotter said, but it is not currently profitable. A third of sales come from online purchases, she said.