Organizing a FREE Ladies' Boutique | Organizing Made Fun: Organizing a FREE Ladies' Boutique

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Organizing a FREE Ladies' Boutique

Back in 2010, I came up with this idea to try and help other ladies out by having a FREE Ladies Boutique in my home. 

I blogged about it back then, but I thought that since I have so many new followers and subscribers now, I wanted to put the four posts I did into one to give you an idea of how to organize a FREE Ladies' Boutique. All the pictures here have now been updated and I included some new ones, too!

Why have a free ladies' boutique? Well, I'll tell you why I came up with this idea and hope to do it again someday. I kept hearing from ladies at church how they just didn't have the money to buy clothing, as it wasn't a top priority, while at the same time I'd hear ladies talk about how they had too many clothes...."hmmmm, I thought, if we just somehow got the clothes and things OUT of these ladies' homes so they don't have so much clutter, and into the hands of other ladies' who didn't have much at all!" And that's where my idea came from! My brain comes up with crazy things, but I think this time it was fun.

The first thing I did was explain my vision to my hubby and permission to put this together. The second, was to "summon" all the ladies from our church. We have a freecycle group through our church, as well as different Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups. So, I sent out an email to all the ladies letting them know of my idea and the DATE of the boutique. I also asked for help and I asked everyone to go through their clothes, purses, shoes, jewelry, and any accessories they might have that they really don't need. 

The response was UNBELIEVABLE - honestly, I couldn't believe it! I stored clothing in every extra nook and cranny, basement and garage space I could possibly find. I didn't mind because I knew it was only temporary. But, the day before the big boutique, I had my kids and a bunch of ladies who helped me get it organized. I did not spend ONE penny on the event! The only thing I "bought" was lunch {chicken salad and drinks} for all the volunteers who came over to organize everything. I asked to borrow racks and hangers from the freecycle group - and got it all! I had so many wire hangers that I had to make sure everyone took home their hangers when they left the boutique!!

I had each of my bathrooms set up as dressing rooms and all the bedrooms, too. I have full length mirrors in nearly all those rooms and borrowed a couple, too. 

Everything was FREE! That was the best part. It was "first come, first served" so the ladies lined up at my front door. Then, at the appointed time, they all came through. You wouldn't believe how exciting it was to see these women walk out with armloads of clothes! They were responsible to bring their own bags to hold their free clothing. They left smiling and excited! 

I had scheduled for all the left-over clothing to go to the Salvation Army {to be picked up from my house} the following Tuesday. The boutique was held on a Sunday afternoon. And so for those who couldn't make it, for whatever reason, I opened my home to bring other friends with them who didn't go to our church. I want to tell you that I only opened up this free boutique to ladies from my church because I didn't want the whole city of ladies showing up at my house for free clothing - just for my safety and not wanting strangers coming through. So, on Monday, I told the ladies from church they could bring a friend who didn't go to our church to come over with them to go through the last of the clothing. 

There were women who just had a baby, and needed some clothes to fit in temporarily. There were ladies who just didn't have the money to get anything new for themselves. There were lots of happy Moms of teenage girls that found "cute" outfits for them and saved their Moms a fortune!

If you want to organize a free ladies' boutique here are some suggestions:

1. Determine what group of people you want to invite. 

2. Ask that everyone donate something, even if it's just one or two small things - or loads of stuff. Suggest that they go through purses, belts, scarves, skirts, pants, shirts, blouses, dresses, camisoles, and shoes. 

3. Ask for help! You can't do this alone. Use the skills of other women. I had a crew of 8-10 ladies show up and I assigned an area for each lady and let them organize it however they wanted, with a few small suggestions from me.

4. Ask for supplies! I needed hanging racks - so I asked and asked. I got enough for all the clothes - and there were a lot of clothes. I needed hangers, and got them all donated. Any small thing I needed was donated to help out - even props for the jewelry in the vintage suitcases and some full length mirrors were all borrowed for the weekend.

5. Find a place to put all the clothes. I had ladies drop off in my van {during church} or at my house during the week. I put most of them in my garage or basement.

6. Be specific about date and time. Set a date and stick to it. You will have women who can't come, but you won't find a perfect date. I gave a "make up" day the day after, as well as an opportunity for women outside of church to come and get the last of the clothing. And I scheduled for a pick up the Tuesday after the boutique, for the charity truck to pick the leftovers up.

7.  Have plenty of {full length} mirrors and "dressing rooms" - everyone needs to see how they look after trying on clothes. I used our bedrooms and bathrooms as "dressing rooms". I put notes in the dressing rooms that if they didn't like the clothes to hang them up and put them back exactly where they found them.

8. It was overwhelming pulling out all the clothes, so just take a deep breath and go through one bag at a time with each of your volunteer crew - by the way, I didn't open ANYTHING until the day before the boutique. Come up with creative ways to put the clothes out. We hung all the skirts, blouses, dresses, jackets, and trousers. We folded all the casual pants/shorts, shirts, capris, and anything else casual on several large tables. All the sweaters were folded and set on my large fireplace mantel. The scarves and jewelry we displayed creatively - we borrowed some vintage suitcases and I had one lady drape jewelry beautifully.

9. Sort clothing by type and size. We had my living room to put all the hanging clothes, my kitchen {with several large folding tables} to put all casual clothing, my music room for all the shoes, and areas in between for jewelry and other accessories. Then, we grouped by size to make it easier for ladies to find the clothing.

10. Label everything. I had one volunteer who made pretty little signs all over with all the types of clothing and sizes. 

Have fun! Get excited about your boutique! I have thought about doing another free "home goods" type of boutique in the future, also, but I would change a few things I would do. Or I may do this again too...the ladies at church keep asking me to do it again! Would you ever consider putting on a free boutique? 

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