Today we’d like to introduce you to Lucy Jolis.
Lucy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Halfway through my senior year of high school, my family moved from the east coast to Laguna Beach. I spent that summer working in a small shop in Laguna and fell in love, equally, with both California and working in a boutique. I sat out in sun in front of the shop when it was slow. I was constantly inspired. I made friends and felt part of the community, and I really loved caring for the shop and all the pretty things inside. I remember thinking to myself, “I can do this, and I think I can do this really well.” And once that idea entered my head it never left.
After college, I spent 7 years living and working in NYC, and when my boss retired I moved to Austin. After being in Austin for about a year a small retail space pretty much fell in my lap, I figured it was now or never. The space was tiny, it was the office of an old gas station and had glass on three of the four walls, it was a true Sunroom.
In 2015, after about two years in business, the developers of the new South Congress Hotel came to me asking if I’d be interested in moving over to a space in the hotel (which was still under construction at that point). While the space at the hotel was only slightly larger, the location on South Congress, Austin’s main shopping street, was prime. I was nervous to make the move to because I was so happy in my original space, but doing so turned out to be a very wise decision. And now, 4.5 years after opening the original Sunroom, we’ve expanded to our newest home at the Malibu Country Mart. Like South Congress in Austin, the Malibu Country Mart feels like the perfect destination to house Sunroom on the west coast.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think comparatively speaking, I’ve had a smooth road? The business has grown organically, and in the right direction, since day one. I was able to run the Sunroom on my own for the first two years. I intermittently had part-time help in the shop so that I could take a day off here and there, but I didn’t have a full-time employee (or even a consistent part time employee) until after two full years. When Sunroom moved from its original Austin location into its current location at the South Congress Hotel, there was no way I could do it on my own. So I staffed up. All was going well. Then, this crazy idea to open another location started turning into a reality and the road got a little bumpy. All I can say is that growing pains are REAL.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sunroom story. Tell us more about the business.
I’ve found we are known for offering something different. I’m proud of how hard we work to discover and seek out lesser known designers, and I think what really sets us apart is our curated mix of those harder to find lines alongside more established cult-favorite brands. I like to think it’s our mission to show customers things they never even knew they wanted!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Everyone on the Sunroom Team deserves so so so much credit! In addition to keeping the shop looking its best, the store managers are also the ones who create a comfortable environment that our customers want to shop and hang out in. This has been such an important part of the business from the very beginning, so maintaining a fun atmosphere is super important! Also, on the team but behind the scenes are Gabriella and Melissa, who I work closely with every day. They are both incredibly smart and thoughtful. They keep me and the business organized and make sure we’re always making moves in the right direction. I know I am incredibly lucky to have a team of such strong and motivating women.
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