Mary Arden Guyton
Sometimes work is more than just business. Kari Bailey opened the Oxford store Elliott Lane in August of 2015 and strives to have a personal relationship with her customers.
One of her favorite customer stories is when she spent two years shipping merchandise to a customer in Jackson, but had never met her in person. The customer finally visited the store for the first time and told Bailey the impact she made on her life when she was hospitalized.
“She told me that by helping her with orders while she had been in the hospital brought so much joy to her and had helped her through a dark time in her life,” she said. “It is so rewarding to hear that you have impacted someone in their life without even knowing that you have.”
Elliot Lane offers clothing for girls and boys ages 4 to 16, children’s gifts and adult women’s clothing. Bailey opened the business because she saw a need for a store that offered high quality clothing for children in the Oxford market while trying to find clothes for her daughter, 8.
She earned a fashion merchandising and marketing degree from the University of Mississippi, and spent several years working in different areas of the fashion industry.
In the beginning, the target market was focused on children. A year into the store, Bailey began offering women’s clothing to appeal to mothers who bring their children into the store, expanding the customer base. The store has also attracted out-of-town customers.
“Elliott Lane has evolved over the years by expanding our customer base not only in Oxford, but also in surrounding cities such as Tupelo and Memphis,” Bailey said.
Bailey takes great pride in being in the store as often as possible to assist customers and build relationships.
“I love for people to know that I am 100 percent hands on in every aspect of my business,” she said. “From buying merchandise, dealing with vendors, staffing, back office dealings, and working with our customers. I am involved in every part. I am always inspired by our customers. Whether new or old, they are what keep me motivated to have Elliott Lane.”
As trends come and go, Bailey listens to her customers needs. She said it takes time, patience, determination and creativity to own a business.
“My advice would be to do your homework,” she said. “Make sure that your product is relevant and needed in your market. Also, be prepared to put in the time and hard work. It takes time before a business gets stable, often years.”
Olivia Neill, a senior hospitality management major at Ole Miss, has enjoyed being a part of the Elliott Lane team for three years. She described a positive work environment.
“Kari makes working at Elliott Lane so enjoyable, and I love the team we have,” she said. “I’m always excited to go into work and see my co-workers and the adorable kids with their sweet parents.”
The Elliott Lane team is comprised of six employees led by Bailey, who said she is excited for what the future has in store for Elliott Lane.