Meet Lacey Woodroof, owner of Basic.
This post kicks off a series I’m super excited about called #realshopstories. There are so many amazing women out there totally making it happen and they deserve a huge shout out. Not to mention, there is so much knowledge to gain from the experience of our peers. I hope you learn a few things and maybe even meet a new friend in the process.
Meet Lacey and her shop.
Lacey Woodroof is the owner of basic. , a shop located in Birmingham, Alabama that features a carefully curated selection of ethically-made staples for the contemporary woman.
basic. is forward-thinking not only for the city but for many customers who are just starting to learn about more ethical practices when it comes to their wardrobe. They provide versatile essentials that serve as the anchor pieces for any wardrobe. And they wholeheartedly believe that quality is more valued than quantity. As part of the responsible fashion movement, basic. represents brands with a conscience.
“We want you to wear clothing that feels as good to your inside as it does to your outside. Knowledge is power, and we believe you should know about what you’re wearing.”
The brands they partner with practice conscientious manufacturing and production, and you can be certain that the individuals who crafted the garments did so in satisfying work environments. They believe every woman should have access to apparel that leaves her feeling confident and empowered, and that’s exactly what they aim to do.
And let me just say Lacey is one of the most refreshing people I’ve ever met. She’s honest, passionate, and so down to earth. What you see is what you get. This girl is the real deal. I sat down with her to learn more about how she got started, her vision for the shop, and to hear what she’s learned along the way.
What is your background?
I’ve always been drawn to solid, neutral staple pieces, so it’s not surprising that I ended up opening a shop that exclusively sells basic pieces. What is surprising, is how I got there. I was actually a Spanish International Trade major and found myself working in the finance world right out of college. While I learned a lot and the time spent there was extremely valuable, I quickly knew I didn’t want to be in that industry forever.
How did basic get it’s start?
At the beginning of 2016, I was feeling really frustrated in my job and kind of stagnant in life. One night I was having a total pity party for myself and my husband asked, “If money didn’t matter, what would you do?” Immediately I said “Open a shop that only sold essential, staple pieces.” Well, that wasn’t quite in the budget at the time so I started doing research to figure out how to do it. I didn’t know anything about the fashion world.
This happened to be around the time I started learning more about foods, what I was putting in my body, and the impact we have on our environment. When I learned that fashion was the 2nd largest polluting industry in the world, I knew I wanted to make a positive impact with my business. I didn’t want any people to be harmed in the process of my doing business. That became the cornerstone for my business model.
In September 2016, I launched the online shop while I was still working my 9-5 day job. It was a lot of long hours but helped me get the business off the ground without the stress of it being my sole income. I ran the online shop for about a year before I finally quit my job.
When did you decide to open the physical space?
I did a pop-up shop first for about six months to ease my way into having a physical presence. It was actually through that experience that I met a fellow entrepreneur and we decided to go into a joint space together. We started looking in January 2018, and it took us about six months to find a location and get it up and running.
Our situation was unique in that I was selling apparel and she was selling chocolate. We had to find a space that would accommodate the two businesses separately because our needs were very different. The good thing is we had similar taste, knew what we wanted, and had three months to brainstorm before we got access to the space. We are both great about making up our minds quickly and had wonderful people who helped us make it happen. That partnership was really what pushed us both into opening our own space.
What are the benefits of doing a co-sharing partnership?
For me, it’s been nothing but a positive experience so far. When you own your own business, there are all sorts of challenges that you come up against—financing, having someone else to talk to and bounce ideas off of, needing a reference for something. This helped solve some of those.
Commercial real-estate and the overhead of running a shop is expensive. This relationship allowed us to alleviate some of that financial burden. When you’re not so stressed about the finances, you can really focus on growing your business so you have a chance to be successful. A lot of small businesses are forced to start financially upside down. I’m so thankful we have manageable finances right now.
We both have a vested interest in each other being successful but aren’t financially attached to one another. We have separate lease contracts with our landlord. That helps mitigate stress in the relationship.
Also, I’m a verbal processor and need someone to talk things out with. I’m so much more productive and a bigger thinker having someone to talk to. It helps me feel like I’m in it with someone.
What has been the most rewarding part of opening your shop?
How much positive feedback I’ve received about being the only one who stocks ethically-made products in our community. That is the one thing that most people have clung to. It’s important for us to educate our community on where their products come from and what goes into the manufacturing process.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Definitely social media. Being an “elder millennial” I’m expected to know how to make my life look pretty and perfect and manipulate hashtags, but I don’t. I understand it is a marketing tool that has to be utilized but it can be uncomfortable having to figure that out when you don’t feel confident using it. How do you stay true to yourself? I don’t want to give anyone the impression I live this unattainable life. Figuring out how to be authentic and reach the people I want to reach has been extremely difficult for me.
Also, I have a hard time letting go and trusting someone else to communicate the vision of the brand. When you’re the owner, social media and the brand itself are an extension of you. It can be hard to release or delegate out an area of your business. It feels like a part of you. I didn’t have the finances to pay for photography early on and it was a gradual progression to improve the aesthetic. It’s taken me a while to figure out what I wanted that identity to look like. Not to mention the platforms are always changing and there’s a new feature rolling out. It’s hard to keep up!
How do you juggle your online shop and your physical space? Any advice or tips?
Try to stay equally dedicated to each one and maintain an appropriate balance between them. It’s good to have systems in place to keep yourself organized. It will eliminate so many issues for you in the long run. Also, stay on top of things and don’t get lazy. It’s easy let things slide and say you’ll do something later or tomorrow.
It’s inevitable that you’ll enter uncomfortable situations or something will go wrong. You learn really quickly how to “tuck your tail and say I’m sorry”. You may have sold something in the store and online at the same time and then have to go back to the online customer and say the item isn’t available. You have to own it and say “This is our mistake and this is what we’re going to do to take care of this for you.” And then remember to ask yourself “What could I have done differently or how can I learn from this?”
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
I love that saying, “If you love your work, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I work significantly more for significantly less money and am so fulfilled and so content with my life. There are absolutely things I don’t enjoy, but knowing you can feel this incredible about your work is something I hope everyone gets to experience in their life. It’s been very empowering to own my own business. I now have an expectation about how I want to feel and what I want to do going forward.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Life Advice = Be kind. I was raised to be kind and that every other human has value and deserves to be treated with respect. It’s how you develop the most true, real, and genuine relationships with others.
Business Advice = “I don’t get why you don’t just quit.” It was the nudge I needed. Sometimes things are so obvious to other people.
What advice do you have for your fellow shop owner?
It’s never a bad idea to start your passion as a side hustle. Now you will be working a lot, but it gives you the freedom to grow your business without it being 100% your income. Figure out how to make it happen. Do the work. Put in the time. What if the outcome is positive?
Do what you want to. Don’t do something because you feel obligated. Life is short and we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. We are here on this earth for a finite period of time and it would suck to spend that time miserable. You can choose to change something if it makes you miserable. You can choose to be happy.
Huge thank you to Lacey for sharing and giving us a little insight on her journey, struggles, and lessons learned. You can follow basic. on Instagram and cheer Lacey on here. I hope you enjoyed this first #realshopstories post. If you own a shop and want to share your story, shoot me message at firstname.lastname@example.org!