October 2015 Small Business Startup: Finley’s Closet Too

Finley’s Closet Too

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Dedra Morgia stands in Watertown location of Finley’s Closet Too, the other is in Clayton.

Dedra Morgia stands in Watertown location of Finley’s Closet Too, the other is in Clayton. Photo by Justin Sorenson, NNY Business

THE INITIAL IDEA

When Dedra M. Morgia took a job as the receptionist of A New Attitude Spa and Salon, she never knew where that decision would eventually land her. Now, years later, she’s thrown caution to the wind a number of times, and not only owns the salon, but also divides her time between her three children and the three clothing and accessory boutiques she owns in Sackets Harbor, Clayton and Watertown.

How does she do it all?

“Taking chances for me is not a big deal,” she said. “I’m willing to take chances.”

TARGET CLIENTELE

Mrs. Morgia’s boutiques — A New Attitude Boutique in Sackets Harbor, Finley’s Closet in Clayton and the recently added Finley’s Closet Too in Watertown — offer women a variety of trending clothing and accessories. In terms of a target customer base, she said she doesn’t have any specific parameters in mind.

“It runs from teenagers all the way up,” she explained.

While Mrs. Morgia plans to keep the Watertown location open year-round, her other two shops are open seasonally. A New Attitude Boutique is open only during the summer, and she plans to keep Finley’s Closet open until close to Christmas this year. With its constant flow of tourists throughout the summer months, Finley’s Closet has the highest volume of traffic of the three shops.

“Realistically, that’s all people are doing: shopping and eating,” she said with a laugh. “The customers are pleasant. I like meeting new people from different areas all the time.”

THE JOURNEY

Through her years working at and eventually owning the salon, Mrs. Morgia’s passion for fashion never waned.

A New Attitude Boutique’s first year in business was actually as a satellite location for the larger salon in Watertown. Mrs. Morgia loved Sackets Harbor and decided to buy property. It was only natural for the established salon owner to try her hand at offering a limited spa menu — just manicures and pedicures — in the small space.

After a period of success, she closed the Sackets Harbor salon for the season. When she opened the next year, she took a shot on her dream of becoming part of the fashion world.

“I had never thought that I would do it, so I never gave it a second thought,” she said. “And then I realized it’s not that bad. You just go and try it.”

Unlike many small business owners starting a new venture, Mrs. Morgia said she faced few challenges to get her idea off the ground.

“It was such a great year. It was just so easy,” she said, citing her husband and sister as strong pillars of support.

When planning her boutique, Mrs. Morgia took inspiration from shops in downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square district. She would visit and ask questions: “Where do you go to shows? From where do you buy?”
The first few fashion shows were the most overwhelming aspect of breaking into the industry, she said. But Mrs. Morgia used her skills that years of taking chances had taught her; she threw herself into it and figured it out.

Not long after getting the first boutique up and running, in early 2014 Mrs. Morgia decided she was ready to expand her love of fashion and tackle a larger market: Clayton.

“Clayton is booming,” she explained. “It’s just a beautiful place.”

Along with having a bustling tourism business in the summer, the network of other business owners make the town an easy place to do business, she said. Mrs. Morgia said that while some of the other boutiques in Clayton are technically competition to Finley’s Closet, it’s a healthy competition, and her shop’s unique style sets her apart.

As her first shopping season in Clayton came to a close later the same year, Mrs. Morgia had her eye on a third location: Watertown.

She lives in the area, and kept looking at the empty space on Washington Street and thinking that someone had to take advantage of that opportunity. The space was in close proximity to a bank, hairdresser and liquor store, and had ample parking; it was prime real estate for a clothing boutique. In November 2014, Mrs. Morgia opened her third boutique and fourth business. Her No. 1 reason behind the decision is the same as for the other stores: her passion for the industry.

“I love fashion and I love the shows,” she said. “I even love setting up the stores. All of it.”

IN FIVE YEARS

Although Mrs. Morgia could be mistaken for the north country’s superwoman of fashion, even superheroes have to know their limits, and she is well aware of hers. Regardless of what she has on her plate, family comes first. Now that her children are growing and keeping her busy with traveling sports teams, she’s cutting back in the business world.

At the beginning of last year, she stepped back at the salon and stopped taking clients herself. While she misses the people with whom she interacted, the decision wasn’t upsetting; she’d always favored the business side of the operation, she said.

Mrs. Morgia is also considering closing A New Attitude Boutique, she said, explaining that while business is good, the season is short. As of now, the building in Sackets Harbor is for sale.

“With my life being so crazy, if I have to give up something, that would be the one I would give up,” she said.

These consolidations don’t mean that Mrs. Morgia is done expanding her fashion empire, though. Her sister, a resident of San Antonio, Texas, is considering opening a location of Finley’s Closet in her city, Mrs. Morgia said. The sisters travel to all the fashion shows together, so a southern Finley’s Closet location is a good possibility.

Once her children — the youngest of whom is 8 years old — are out of school, Mrs. Morgia might open another boutique in the area, she said.
For now, she plans to simply make her shops the best they can be.
“When people come in and find a ton of stuff, and have to pick and choose because they love everything, that’s rewarding to me,” she said.

— Lorna Oppedisano