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HOME BASE: Summer Trottier, left, and Brittany Bilyeu have set up shop in Galloway Creek for Culture Flock’s first storefront.
HOME BASE: Summer Trottier, left, and Brittany Bilyeu have set up shop in Galloway Creek for Culture Flock’s first storefront.

Business Spotlight: Spreading its Wings

Culture Flock debuts in retail space to expand on its e-commerce business

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Five years into existence, Culture Flock Clothing LLC has a permanent home to call its own.

The e-commerce clothing company opened its first brick-and-mortar store Oct. 11 in Galloway Creek, a $7.7 million mixed-use development underway in Galloway Village.

“It came together really well, although it was a crazy last week getting everything ready,” co-owner Summer Trottier says of the shop’s opening, declining to disclose startup costs. “But we made it; we did it. It’s even better than we imagined, so we’re really excited to finally have the doors open. It feels great.”

The business started five years ago with the launch of CultureFlock.com, and Trottier and her wife Brittany Bilyeu are at the helm.

The 2,200-square-foot store at 3938 S. Lone Pine Ave., Ste. 102, serves as both a retail shop and a production and fulfillment center. Culture Flock makes T-shirts and sweatshirts on-site, and also carries coffee mugs, candles, greeting cards, notebooks and stationary – an inventory Trottier says will continue to evolve to keep up with trends and customer suggestions. Some of the products include inspirational phrases, such as “Keep Going,” or calls to action to “Vote Local.”

About 1,000 square feet of the site is devoted to retail space for the company’s more than 60 products, as well as those from other independent artists, she says.

“A lot of the stuff that we’re carrying, besides our own brand, are women-owned companies or minority-owned companies. We find that an important, underserved niche. We feel it’s really important to support companies like us,” Trottier says. “We want this space to be very inclusive and empowering.”

Trottier says the company name reflects the product lines representing current trends in pop culture.
 
In the nest
Trottier’s brother Brent Brown is a co-owner in Culture Flock. The siblings also are among owners of Galloway Creek Development Group LLC.

Both Trottier and Bilyeu say a retail store wasn’t part of the plans when deciding to go into business together five years ago. However, Culture Flock’s appearances at festivals, community events and pop-up shops resulted in patrons asking about a storefront.

“It seemed like a natural progression for us to make a permanent home where people can come and shop anytime with us,” Trottier says.

Those events around the region also introduced the women to other similar independent small businesses and artists who now help contribute to the shop’s inventory, Bilyeu says.

“It helped us to grow our business,” she says. “We’re very big on equality, creativity and supporting women in business. Those are ideals we stand behind.”

Culture Flock’s 2018 sales through September already beat last year’s numbers, Trottier says, declining to disclose annual revenues.

She says they’ve only had to invest in the business during the first year.

“We’ve not had times where we were struggling or broke or anything,” she says, noting the business hit profitability about one year in. “We’ve continued to grow since then.”

Balancing act
Though starting out solely in e-commerce, Trottier says wholesale opportunities sprung up a couple of years ago. The duo built relationships with other boutiques where the two traveled for pop-up shops or festivals, as well as via online wholesale platforms, like Faire.com.

Trottier says Culture Flock has sold to 30 boutiques in the last six months through that website alone.

Now, about 80 boutiques carry Culture Flock products, she says, noting Unique Vintage, a California-based company that features vintage-inspired apparel, accessories and swimwear, is its biggest wholesale client.

Kelly Edwards, senior buyer with Unique Vintage, says it has worked with Culture Flock for three years, purchasing multiple products, including a Ghoul Gang shirt featuring Lily Munster, Elvira, Morticia Addams and the Bride of Frankenstein. Edwards says Unique Vintage buys about 2,000 units of the T-shirt a year. It’s become the top-selling T-shirt the California company sells.

“That was a really great find for us,” Edwards says, noting Unique Vintage staff discovered the shirt from an Instagram post by Culture Flock. “It’s kind of a viral thing for us.”

In-store retail is now the third revenue stream for Culture Flock, joining online and wholesale sales, which Trottier says has previously been about a 50-50 split. She added the shop would also host workshops and events as part of its monthly offerings. They plan to hold two to four events a month, with a candle making and wine tasting workshop already scheduled for early November. The events will be a mix of free and ticketed gatherings.

Finding the balance of various revenue streams and making sure the shop keeps up with product demand will be a challenge, Trottier says, but she and Bilyeu are confident they can handle it.

“Before, being more of a fulfillment-type of business and an online business, what we had on the shelves, that was it. Now, we’ve got this up here, too,” Trottier says of the in-store merchandise.

Trottier says she handles a lot of the back-end aspects and marketing of the business, while Bilyeu oversees the production area.  

“Keeping up with production is probably one of the hardest things,” Bilyeu says. “But it’s exciting, and I like the challenge of it.”

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