Dressed for Success : 18-year-old Winnacunnet student to open consignment shop consignment store specifically for teenagers

18-year-old Winnacunnet student to open consignment shop consignment store specifically for teenagers

By Chelsey Shuman

Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 29, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Stephanie Hartley, 18, poses with a mannequin adorning the storefront of her new business on Lafayette Road. Live. Laugh. Shop, is a consignment store specifically for teenagers.
[Photo by Ioanna Raptis]
What: Donate items to Live. Laugh. Shop.
When: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 1 prior to store grand opening Saturday, April 2.
Where: 387 Lafayette Road (Route 1), Unit 108.

HAMPTON -- For many kids, graduating high school means getting out of morn and dad's house, going to college and experiencing everything that goes along with that and planning out their last summer at home.

For 18-year-old Stephanie Hartley, Winnacunnet High School graduation this year will give her the chance to open and run her own consignment store for teens, called Live. Laugh. Shop, located at 387 Lafayette Road, Unit 108, in Hampton.

The store is slated to open on Saturday, April 2. On Friday, April 1, Hartley will host a drop-off day from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., during which the public may drop off used clothing and accessories at the store.

Using a consignment store business model, donors of store items will receive a portion of the profits if those items are sold, Hartley said.

With money she made working at a prom dress store and the help of her uncle and parents, her own business has become a reality.

She's had her eye on starting her own business since she was in the seventh grade, when she joined Hampton Academy's Wheelabrator Environmental Group and completed projects on recycling. That work inspired her to apply recycling principles to other aspects of her life.

In her sophomore year in high school, Hartley got a taste of running her own operation when she started Krazy Kickers, a soccer camp for younger children looking to learn the basics of the sport.

"I loved running my own business and being my own boss," she said this past week. "But I felt like I needed to do something bigger and better."

During a trip to visit family in Boulder, Colo., she shopped at a consignment shop geared toward teens. The idea for such a shop on the Seacoast came to her and she got to work looking at a budget and studying the ins and outs of the consignment store business.

"They are really popular out in Colorado but not so much here," she said of consignment shops for teenagers. "I figured this would be a great place to start, especially so close to the high school."

As a graduation requirement, Hartley had to participate in a Senior Seminar project in which she and her partner, Alex Williams, created a full business plan for how to open a consignment shop.

Without this project, Hartley said her store would not be a possibility today.

"After making the decision to start my own business everything came together extremely quickly," she said. "I am very happy with my decision."

Backed by immediate and extended family, as well as teachers and friends, Hartley is on her way.

"My family has all helped in some way or another," she said."Whether is was with the Web site, which is still in progress (live-laugh-shop.com), with the logo design or just coming with me to pick up fixtures for the store."

Hartley's father, Daniel Hartley, has been excited to see his daughter's concept grow.

"She is doing a great job and the store is going to be really good for the community," he said.

Her mom, Leslie Hartley, was hesitant about the project at the beginning, given the daunting plan. Now, however, she said she could not be more proud or excited.

"She has a very strong business sense," Leslie said of her daughter. "She is taking her challenge seriously and it is a really great place to shop."

Younger sister Bridgette, a Hampton Academy eighth-grader, said her sister has always been driven and a workaholic.

"Steph is very determined and she has always known what she has wanted," said Bridgette Hartley. "She won't let anyone step in her way."

Hartley's teachers have also given advice and have actively been spreading the word around school about the coming shop. Hartley's friends Julia Merrow, Sara Salloway and Sheriden Benoit have been to the store many times to help with anything needed before the grand opening on April 2.

"Everyone has offered their help which I didn't expect," Hartley said, "but without it I wouldn't be where I am today."

To other young people trying to start a business, Hartley had some tough-love advice: "There is no point in daydreaming about one dream if you are not going to go for it," she said. "Take the time • you spend procrastinating or watching television and put it towards something bigger than that."

While this project has become her main focus, Hartley has also been accepted the University of New Hampshire's business school for the upcoming fall semester to study hospitality management.

"I am so excited to be going to UNH, I have wanted to go there for so long," she said. "If the business does really well, my dream is to move it to Durham with me."

SUCCESS: Student to open shop "Take the time you spend procrastinating or watching television and put it towards something bigger than that.": Stephanie Hartley