Success, Style, and Inspiration
By Jessica Kradel, Piedmont Community College Student
Change can be difficult, but it can also lead to unexpected blessings. If anyone understands this, it’s 4Lynn’s owner Sharon Kendrick, whose story is a perfect example of how a leap of faith can pay off.
When I first walked into 4Lynn’s Boutique on North Madison Boulevard, I was greeted by a friendly, smiling face and a bright atmosphere. The shop’s aesthetic, as well as its employees, can only be described as uniquely southern-chic. Towards the back of the store, I found the owner, Sharon Kendrick, deeply involved in assisting a customer looking for the perfect fit. As I watched Sharon and her employees make trips back and forth across the shop in search of the garments to assemble an outfit for their shopper, I remember thinking that I had never seen staff members do so much for one customer before.
After the satisfied patron had left the shop, Sharon invited me to sit with her while I conducted the interview. We first talked about Sharon’s life prior to opening 4Lynn’s in September of 2012. Sharon worked for her father, who owned the IGA on North Main Street, when she was young. “I knew the life of a business owner,” she said, “I knew it was a 24/7 job.” During her adult life, Sharon worked in radiology and ultrasonography. As she got older, her rheumatoid arthritis made it increasingly difficult to perform in her workplace, so she had to leave the medical field. That was when her husband, Tracey Kendrick, suggested she open a boutique. Sharon expressed her apprehension to the idea at the time by saying, “I wasn’t really comfortable. I thought, ‘Who am I to tell somebody else what to wear? I’ve been wearing scrubs for 25 years!'” With her husband’s support and encouragement, though, she soon found herself on her first trip to purchase merchandise for her boutique. Even then, she was uncertain and uneasy, but prayerful. But on August 9th, 2012, the day she and Tracey went to market, Sharon opened her daily devotional book to find a message that referenced Isaiah 6:10, a scripture that mentions garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness. Seeing that the passage was explicitly related to clothes, Sharon was assured that she had taken the right path. “When I left the hospital, I was very uncomfortable with the decision, because that was something I went to school for, and something that I loved. When you change something, you’ve been doing for so long and go into something where you don’t know if you’re going to make money, it’s very scary, but once I read this [devotional], it felt like a weight had been lifted.”
Nearly 7 years later, Sharon still uses that same devotional, and 4Lynn’s has enjoyed a great deal of growth and success. She and her staff have learned through experience that not all business strategies are equally effective, though. For example, marketing through newspaper and radio ads haven’t helped the shop reap a lot of revenue in the past, so Sharon had to find other avenues for advertisement. “The best way is social media,” she shared. Posts promoting 4Lynn’s can be found on sites like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Following the social networking profiles connected to the boutique is a great way to keep up with special events taking place there, like sales and giveaways. The shop gains more and more exposure every time a happy customer shares a photo of themselves wearing what they bought there. When it comes to matters of style and business, Sharon said, “I think you have to change with the times.”
Not only do customers showcase the clothing available at 4Lynn’s, but the staff do as well. The employees at the store are very involved and dedicated. “They want the shop to succeed…They are invested.” A lot is expected of a 4Lynn’s team member. At this establishment, customer service is everything. Sharon likes to hire individuals who are “genuine, stylish, and have a good personality”. Judging by the inviting demeanors and fashionable garb of the staff on duty, I could tell they lived up to her expectations. But they can’t just look the part, they have to be knowledgeable, too. “You have to know your merchandise… you have to know what’s going to look good on that customer.” The staff at 4Lynn’s believe that their expertise, when put into action, is what sets the boutique apart from the impersonality of department stores. Sharon also receives help from her family and her sister-in-law, Penny Kendrick, who works in the shop. Sharon conveyed the significance of a job well done by stating, “When they walk out of the store and they can’t wait to put that outfit on, that means you did your job right.”
Shoppers always have the trendiest styles to look forward to seeing upon entering 4Lynn’s, and soon they’ll have something else to be excited about. Sharon has noticed a problem that affects most people today: “A lot of customers tell me they don’t have time to shop. People are busier than ever!” She hopes to solve this issue for her customers by offering a new monthly service called Step Out of Your Box. Those who are interested will be interviewed by a staff member, who will record their measurements and personal style preferences. Then, an outfit will be composed for that customer, and they can come by the store to collect it. As Sharon puts it, “It’s like a present for yourself.” 4Lynn’s is aiming not only to help their customers save time, but to encourage them to think out-of-the-box about the way they dress. “What we want to get customers to do is to try something new… We want to help you as a busy mom, teenager, or young woman, to get a new outfit and step out of your box…We’re hoping to have it started in the first part of April” When I asked what Sharon sees in the boutique’s more distant future, she said, “I would like to say 4 Lynn’s will still be here and growing, going strong.” She hopes to be selling on-trend clothes to the “young and young at heart” of Roxboro for as long as possible.
While Sharon and I sat and talked about fashion, faith, and the future, I noticed some butterfly décor around the shop and on the “4Lynn’s” sign. “Butterflies are a sign of a new beginning, and [opening the boutique] was a new beginning for me and my family,” she told me. Sharon thinks every person should come into their own, like butterflies do, and embrace what makes them unique. “I believe everyone is beautiful in their own way, and they need to own it.”
When we finished our interview, Sharon gave me a gift. She walked behind the counter to retrieve a small book, signed it, and handed it to me. It was a copy of the very same daily devotional book she had read when first starting her business. The first page was inscribed with the words, “Many Thanks and Blessings Always, Sharon,” and the message for August 9th was marked with a heart. Sharon embraced me as she told me goodbye. I was very touched. I walked out of 4Lynn’s boutique that day feeling inspired to step out of my own box, and spread my wings.
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