Student exudes business skills with style
Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 11:09
For most students, balancing classes and a social life in college is hard enough, but for one A-State alumni and one A-State student, that’s just the beginning of it.
Jazmine Washington of Kensett, an ASU alumni who graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business management, and James Barker, a business major of Conway, have recently launched their own clothing shop, Exude Boutique.
“The name was chosen through the process of elimination,” Washington said. “The word ‘exude’ means to project or display obviously or conspicuously. To us, clothes allow you to display your message, feelings or personality without ever having to say a word. We found so much relevance in the term that it was quickly the obvious choice.”
Time management is a big issue for the two. Along with school and running a business, Barker works another job.
“I have no idea how he does it. I handle the majority of the day-to-day operations at the store, but James still finds time to do some after-hours appointments, marketing and promotion and vendor relations,” Washington said. “We both have such busy schedules that communication, planning and organization are the only way to maintain some form of normalcy.”
The boutique first began online as a test run and adjustment period for the two to “figure things out.” After awhile, they began to see success with their online shop.
Washington and Barker began researching to establish a budget and timeline for opening a physical location. Having the online store and all of their social media outlets already established made transitioning into a physical storefront simpler, Barker said.
The passion and dream for the shop came from retail background for Washington and Barker, who both worked at Buckle for a number of years throughout college.
“After working in such a fashion driven, customer focused retail environment for so long, you’ve learned so much and been given so many great ideas that when you combine it with an ASU College of Business education, a sense of entrepreneurship and love for style, it seems like the only way to go,” Barker said.
Their advertising was mostly based on social media, but the two attend campus events to promote and interact.
“I think that our educational background paired with our retail experience made this a logical decision for us,” Barker said. “In the College of Business, we learned a lot about consumers, sales and managing consumer relationships. The professors often talked to us about developing a plan and implementing it. For that, I want to say thank you for all of the guidance.”
Along with their promoting, Exude got ASU students on board to do some modeling for their flyers and to display their clothing for their social media sites.
Khrysten Dobbins, a junior early childhood education major of North Little Rock, was among those models.
She met Barker through school events two years ago and said he’s always been very fashionable.
“James told me he wanted to do some photo-shoots, so I agreed. I was happy to do it,” she said.
Between the store and website, Exude has had shoppers from all over the world including North Carolina, New York, California, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, Sweden, Canada, Mexico and more.
“At our age people are genuinely surprised that we have taken such a big step. ” Barker said. “ASU students are easily our biggest supporters. We are constantly learning and growing, and we look forward to the success we know the future holds.”
As for the future, the duo said it’s wide-open. A few more locations, expansion into design and branching into complementary ventures such as event planning and real estate are on the list of goals. They say Exude is the first step in a long journey.
“I support Exude Boutique to the fullest because the clothes are one-of-a-kind, fashionable, unique yet affordable. You can find an outfit for a casual day, a special occasion or just nightlife,” Dobbins said.
Seeing their dreams come true at such a young age has been overwhelming for the two.
“We love being an inspiration to others, but we are humbled that there is still so much to do and so much that we want to accomplish,” Barker said.
The store is located at 2613 E. Nettleton. Visit the website at www.iexude.com, and follow the social media accounts: @ExudeBoutique on Twitter and Instagram and www.facebook.com/ExudeBoutique. For more information on the store call 870-203-6986.