A Brooklyn Vintage Shop Owner’s Advice On Investing In Your First Boutique


Indigo Style Vintage

Sheryl Roberts started her modeling career during college in Texas, later transitioning to full-time modeling after graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her breakthrough moment came in 1995 when she was featured in ESSENCE’s 25th Anniversary Book, leading to frequent collaboration with the magazine for fashion spreads. Today, she owns the boutique Indigo Style Vintage in Brooklyn, New York.

In 2017, Roberts, initially not planning to be a full-time business owner, launched Indigo Style Vintage within another store, occupying a modest 200 square feet. The opportunity arose when a home decor store owner in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn sought to integrate fashion without embracing fast fashion. “I had three weeks to create an LLC, build out my space in the store, and also have product, which I did anyway, because I was just collecting on my own. So, I didn’t have a business plan,” she tells ESSENCE.com. After learning from the store owner in which her boutique stood, she decided to expand to her own brick-and-mortar store in 2019. 

A Brooklyn Vintage Shop Owner’s Advice On Investing In Your First Boutique

Roberts is a woman who appreciates quality over quantity, even in her youth, she loved vintage shopping. She has always been a money savvy person, having been her own team as a model for 30 years. Agencies were no help to Roberts when she first got started in professional modeling. “When I first started, I had no help. The first couple of years, I was just spending money. You can make $7,500 a day, this is fantastic! But then once I really moved to New York full time and got an apartment, I knew how expensive it was. I knew that there was always that time where you were going to work and you weren’t going to work.” She started to save up much more once she made that realization, and put money into different savings and checking accounts to budget accordingly since she was modeling full-time with no side job.

A Brooklyn Vintage Shop Owner’s Advice On Investing In Your First Boutique

When she had modeling gigs three to four times a week, she invested in her first big pieces. One was a shearling coat that she bought from Bergdorf Goodman. She still has it to this day. The other was a blue ruffled Patrick Kelly dress that she vows to never sell even if it might not fit anymore. Wisely, she also invested in art pieces. “I bought art when I had a lot of income, because I loved art and I knew that art would be an investment that I wouldn’t really depreciate.” She also recommends vintage clothing as opposed to fast fashion because it’s made of stronger, more luxe fabrics and won’t deteriorate in a short amount of time. 

As a business owner, Roberts is still solidifying her boutique’s financial foundation. She advises against overextending, advocating for testing buying orders in small quantities to avoid potential setbacks. “I think that a lot of times people start off and they want to be so big and then they go really big, then if it doesn’t go well they’re stuck. So, I have learned for myself is to buy, sell and then buy more and then sell more.”

She also advises other Black women who aspire to open a boutique or business to sit down and thoroughly write out a business plan before doing anything else. Ask yourself, “What are my goals for my first year, third year, fifth year?” She continues about what she would’ve done differently, “I would have put into place from the very beginning, all the different inventory. I’m back in infrastructure, because I just opened my business, and then I backpedaled in getting all the infrastructure straight.”


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