What does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur in a midsize American city in the 21st century? Ask Kali Arredondo. Athleisure Boutique, her shop in the posh Wolflin neighborhood of Amarillo, Texas, has the city talking. Arredondo believes that her fashion-forward boutique--which focuses on high-quality activewear and leisurewear--is helping to drive economic growth in this burgeoning city on the High Plains. "Our motto is that if you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good--you work harder." Arredondo's attitude is typical of many young entrepreneurs in Amarillo, who have succeeded through organic community-building, rather than viewing success as the product of cutthroat scheming.
"The best thing about Amarillo is the supportive small-town feel" she says. "Amarilloans love to support small business owners. Historically, you open a business and it causes a weird dynamic between other business owners, but interestingly enough, the other boutique owners have reached out to be helpful and encouraging."
The sense of community in Amarillo is important to Arredondo and her business. "My husband is a firefighter," she says. "The Amarillo Fire Department is like a big extended family, and some of our best of friends are other firefighter couples. If you know anything about Amarillo, you know that it's a big small town, so you'll know almost everyone after living here a year."
For Arredondo, this community of nearly a quarter-million seemed an ideal environment to open a business. "Amarillo is known for its banks! What business doesn't need a good bank? Not only this, but after I prepared my business plan, I visited the Small Business Development Center downtown, to help guide me on topics that I needed more help with."
There are a lot of other options, too, like the WT Enterprise Center, where their mission is to you build a great company. Also, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation helps bring other business to Amarillo.
Arredondo attributes much of her success to recognizing a need within this community. "I truly felt like Amarillo needed a different boutique that touched a totally different market--one that I knew was growing and emerging in bigger cities. Encouraging women on their journey and dressing them for the gym has been a new and amazing adventure for me."
So, what advice would Arredondo give to young entrepreneurs coming up behind her? "I have so much advice! First, do your research. Know your financials, understand the market, research your location, et cetera. Second, be willing to work hard. Third, be so focused on what you're doing, you don't worry about anyone else. And finally, don't be deceived that overnight success is the norm. Accept that slow growth is actually the trend."
Arredondo isn't letting slow growth get in the way of job (and life) satisfaction.
"I really love life. This has been one of the most challenging yet super satisfying times in my entire life. I have big plans for the future, and I can't wait to see it all unfold."