The Advice Column by Dear Diary is proud to present our latest interview with the owner and founder of East Coast Ivy Boutique, Greta Belsole. Learn in our Q&A how this bada** businesswoman is taking her boutique to the next level.
Starting a small business is no small feat (pun intended). What is even more difficult is starting a small business in the middle of a pandemic, beating the odds, creating a loyal customer base, and thriving despite all the ups and downs of this past year. That's exactly what our interviewee this week, Greta Belsole, did. She took her passion and love for fashion, turned it into a thriving online boutique within her first year as a post-grad, and is now opening her own storefront (!). To learn more about Greta and East Coast Ivy Boutique, keep reading!
DD: Introduce yourself to our Dear Diary readers.
GB: “Hi everyone, I’m Greta! I’m originally from Hershey, Pennsylvania, and (I) have lived in Charleston, South Carolina for the past five years! After graduating from The College of Charleston, I started East Coast Ivy. When I’m not busy with my small business, my two favorite things to do are: eat at local restaurants & travel.”
DD: What has your journey been like so far as a post-grad in 2020/2021?
GB: “After graduating in May of 2020, I planned to go to Physical Therapy school. I majored in Exercise Science and Psychology and (I) enjoyed every second of it but always knew that something was missing. If you asked me two years ago where I would be today, I 100% would have answered graduate school. I had always been the girl to plan out everything and hold myself accountable to this 5-year plan I had made. Let me tell you…my journey has been extremely different than I expected it to be and for that, I am incredibly grateful.”
DD: What originally inspired you to open your boutique? Does that inspiration still have an impact on you today?
GB: “Ever since I was little, I have always been interested in Fashion & Design. It all started when I first visited NYC at the age of 6 & I forever fell in love with fashion, could you blame me? Style has so much to say about a person’s story and (their) personality. Though this is true, self-love is the most important aspect of fashion. I have two main goals with East Coast Ivy: helping women feel confident in everything they wear and providing items that are trending in fashion, but with a realistic price point. Don’t get me wrong, we all (also) need a Gucci Dionysus or Chanel 2.55 every so often.”
DD: What has been the biggest lesson while starting own small business?
GB: “The biggest surprise is that everything is a learning process for me. I never majored in business or marketing while at The College of Charleston. This truly goes to show that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. I remember thinking senior year, 'Wow this isn’t what I want to do anymore, but it's too late to change my path' ... wrong! It’s never too late, we are (all) so young, and now is the time to try different things and see what you enjoy the most. Never let anyone tell you it’s too late.”
DD: Any advice to someone in their 20s wanting to start a small business?
GB: “My best advice to someone in their 20s wanting to start their own small business is to follow your heart. Make your dream become a reality. As humans, we live and we learn. How would we ever know if something will work out if we don’t at least try?”
DD: What is your favorite fashion trend this summer and can we find it at East Coast Ivy?
GB: “Over the past few months, we have had a fair share of the iconic organza puff sleeve tops and if you don't have a top like this in your closet, you need one. This summer, you will see a lot of ribbed styles, cutout dresses, abundant straps, and bubble gum pink pieces at East Coast Ivy. This month we will also be getting in the coolest wide-leg pants and of course, headscarves, which are both must-purchase items for the summer. This coming Fall, we are introducing a lot of pieces for trendy office fashion (looks), which of course will have to be styled with our 'coming soon' stiletto cowboy boots.”
DD: Now for our final question of each interview, what now?
GB: “East Coast Ivy will be relocating from my one-bedroom apartment in Charleston to its first storefront at 88 Charles Street in Boston, MA. I could not have accomplished this without my loyal customers. I have had so many amazing memories hosting pop-ups on king street with some of my favorite local businesses and even 10 PM shopping sessions in my apartment. After a year of having my store solely online & all inventory in my apartment, it is finally time to have an entire space designated to East Coast Ivy! The storefront buildout period starts May 24th, and the grand opening will be released on Instagram very soon. I can’t believe I am living my dream and I have y’all to thank for that!”