Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristen Outwater, owner of Hometown Have Boutique & West Michigan Mercantile, located in Dorr, MI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We opened Hometown Haven Boutique in September of 2020 - in the midst of a pandemic! Hometown Haven is a small town boutique in Dorr, MI, with the latest trends and small-town prices. Last October, we also opened West Michigan Mercantile 3 doors down from the boutique in the same strip mall. West Michigan Mercantile is a curated collection of 40 local small business artisan products and over 60 small businesses in the US. West Michigan Mercantile features decor, gifts, gourmet foods, accessories, baby items, and so much more! Our customers are the best! We want everyone to enjoy being in our stores and to feel at home while finding items they love and supporting locals. We see our customers as an extended family, so it's definitely a different experience shopping at our stores compared to heading to the mall or other chain stores.

Tell us about yourself

I, Kristen Outwater, actually started my own business as Posh N Pucks. I was an online reseller selling on Poshmark and eBay. When my business outgrew our house, my husband and I decided I needed to move it to a larger space that would allow us to inhabit our house again. We found a spot 3 min from our house that had a natural storefront. It had a natural storefront for a boutique, and since I love challenges, I decided to start one. It was named Posh N Pucks Boutique and offered the community new gifts and clothing (something difficult to find in Dorr). The goal was to get one sale a day and offset the rent cost while giving members of our community a quality place to shop and gather. In April of 2021, we rebranded Posh N Pucks Boutique to Hometown Haven Boutique because that is exactly what our customers had turned the boutique into - a Hometown Haven. Hometown Haven Boutique now makes more sales than Posh N Pucks online, and it has by far exceeded our expectations! What we love the most is that during the first year, our growth was organic, and we grew because of our customers sharing the items they love on social media and telling others how much they loved our store.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment by far is transitioning from a stable teaching job to a leap of faith doing what I love so that I could be the mom, wife, and friend that I always wanted to be. Aside from that, the things I am most proud of business-wise are: using my businesses to give back to the community - we do many fundraisers. I love that I can use the stores to give back to local organizations. I also love that we support so many other small businesses and entrepreneurs with our stores. We always try to source our products from small and local businesses whenever possible.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Besides the obvious "hard thing" - starting a business during a pandemic, the hardest thing I face as a business owner right now is juggling the roles of owning three businesses. We still have Posh N Pucks operating from the back of Hometown Haven Boutique... add West Michigan Mercantile and the role of communicating with 40 artisans vendors and making sure we are representing them well; it's a lot of pressure and a lot of work. I am getting better at delegating as time goes on, but I might be a little crazy owning three businesses on my own!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start small and learn as you grow. The best way to learn is by doing. Take baby steps - want to start a business? Get your LLC first. There are so many people that have "business" and social media accounts, but they don't actually have a company registered legally. Without this, you don't actually own your brand, and all your hard work could be "stolen" by someone who files an LLC in that name.
  2. Find a successful business owner willing to answer questions and act as a mentor. The best way to learn is by doing, but don't re-invent the wheel! There are resources and people that will help you learn and grow. This is the most powerful thing in life...learn from others, take feedback, implement it, make mistakes, learn and grow.
  3. Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone looks perfect on social media, "do you," and don't ever worry about what others do. Do what you know is best for your family, your business, and your community. If you do that and have a quality product, you can't go wrong.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

It may sound cliché, but the biggest advice I have is to "do what you love and love what you do." I absolutely love my job, our customers, and going to work. I don't care what your passion is; I'm 100% convinced there is a way to make money by doing what you love. You just have to think outside the box.

Where can people find you and your business?





If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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