I definitely did not wake up one day and say, “I want to start my own business.” It was a decision that took a lot of thought and time. I knew I had out grown my retail career in Northwest Arkansas. After working at multiple retail stores and boutiques, I created a customer following and later saw a need for a women’s boutique that would feature fashionable clothing, more than what was offered in NWA at that time. Something that was a step above what we were used to seeing in this area - not preppy, not basic. I saw a need for a more sophisticated, polished style - brands that were offered in larger cities that were not available in our small area. In the beginning, it was not my plan to open my own clothing store. I envisioned myself working for a large retail presence in a big city, or even designing apparel. But deep down I knew if I was going to stay in NWA, I would have to create something for myself. And eventually it was my husband that put the question out there, “Why don’t you open your own store?”
From A Request, To A Name
Coming up with a name was not easy, and honestly quite stressful. I immediately knew I didn’t want a store called "Monica’s". That seemed so small-town sounding, and did not reflect what I had in my mind. Since I gained a great customer following over the years that would constantly suggest creating my own store, plus my husband's initial question, I thought it was really at their “request” that I open a store. So, one night at dinner (Our favorite spot in Fayetteville – 36 club, we loved that restaurant!) my husband and I were discussing names. I said, “What about BY Request? It is at the request of the customers that I do this.” And I never came up with anything else, so By Request was born!
After graduating from the University of Arkansas and working at different retail stores/boutiques in the area I saw a void we had in upscale women’s clothing. Fayetteville was my home, and with all of the major corporations in the area I knew there had to be women who wanted to build a wardrobe that would make them feel powerful. Eventually, I did branch out once in 1999, and opened a store in Little Rock. It was right about the same time I have my second child and unfortunately it did not last long, as I had put too much on my plate. But Meadow St. has been By Request’s home for 24 years now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What Sets Us Apart?
My goal wasn’t really business oriented. I truly wanted to create a store that offered a personalized shopping experience, that offered exclusive brands that you could not find in NWA unless you were shopping online. Originally, we were not a “high end” store, but as years went by the demand from customers of exclusivity and quality steered the business in that direction. I wanted to please my customers with the best of the best. Over the years, we have developed a one-on-one shopping experience for each customer, and from what I understand they appreciate that.
The Customer Experience
If you were to stop by our store, you should expect excellent customer service from the start. I have trained many employees over the years, and engaging with customers is one of the most important things I teach them. We know we are more of a destination store, and we know when customers come to us, they are most likely looking for something specific. So, in order for us to better serve our customers, myself and my employees must be able to develop a good relationship with a customer from the moment they enter the store. I want our customers to know we truly want to meet their expectations and needs each time they come see us.
How Our Store Has Evolved
I love my customers! I always want to have what they are looking for, because it’s what the store is based around. “By Request,” I want to fulfill their request every time I see them. In doing so, I began styling clients head to toe for weddings, banquets, football games, or sometimes even just outfits for the office. They would come to me and I would build their dream look. I also started going through client’s closets, editing and consulting them on what pieces or basics they need in order to create outfits so they get more wear from what they already own. Overall, I help customers make their wardrobe work from them while not spending more time than needed staring at their closet or clothing racks at a store. When I started realizing that customers loved having outfits built before they come in the store, I started a hashtag for our social media page #StyledByMonica (read more here!). Now that social media is becoming a huge part in how we reach our customers, I thought this would be a fun and engaging way for people to see the outfits that I style, how I would wear certain pieces, what I would wear them to, etc. Customers can now call or go online to book a consulting appointment with me so they can be #StyledByMonica too!
My Favorite Part
If I had to choose one thing, I think pleasing people would be my absolute favorite. If I can put a smile on someone’s face, make them feel great about themselves when they look in a mirror, and find clothes that work for their body and style, then I know that I have successfully done my job. Owning my own business can definitely have its stressful moments, but knowing that I have an amazing, loyal customer base is what makes my job so fun, and well worth the stress.
Our Collaborations Over The Years
As I’m sure we all know, cancer does not discriminate. We are all affected whether we experience it personally, or through a loved one, etc. I am honored to be a part of Bill Fleeman’s Gentlemen of Distinction, which is a fundraiser for Hope Cancer Resources (learn more here!). For the last 5 years, By Request for Men (that I started in 2012) has provided a men’s fashion show for the final event of the evening. This includes dressing the gentlemen of distinction (professionals chosen in the community) that model for the event head to toe in By Request for Men clothing. I am always trying to come up with new ideas for this show because we want to make it even more memorable than previous years. We want to help raise awareness for this cause that gives back to our community and those fighting one of the most difficult battles. Another collaboration we have loved is being a part of the Northwest Arkansas Scout Guide for 4 years now! It is a local guide that is dedicated to showcasing locally, independently owned businesses in NWA, and just recently they released Volume 4 (take a peek here!).
Well, there you have it, all there is to know (and love) about By Request. I am so grateful to now have 24 years of business in the books. I have enjoyed every second of building up this business and forming friendships with my customers because ultimately I have them to thank for the "request" that changed my life!