Miss blACKbook Says… Anyone who knows me, knows that my favorite thing to do on Nantucket is connect people, especially female entrepreneurs! So below, you will get to know the amazing Emily Ott Hollister… a stylish Nantucket boutique owner, a recent mom to twin boys, and an all around beautiful person, inside and out. Get her bACK story + find out how this incredible woman balances her life out here on the Grey Lady with these seven blACKbook questions with a Nantucket Entrepreneur!
1. How many years have you been involved in the retail community here on Nantucket and how did you get your start?
I can’t believe it but it’s been 12 seasons. I started working at Ralph Lauren during my college summers and continued working there after I graduated. Then I worked for the amazing Karen Golov and managed Eye of the Needle. In 2010, I opened Milly & Grace. This year marks the 7th season!
2. What did you learn year one of opening a store vs. What did you learn in year seven of your store?
Year 1 – Take it one day at a time.
Opening Milly & Grace was one of the most exciting, terrifying & overwhelming decisions that I had ever made. Leading up to signing the lease I didn’t sleep for 48 hours. Nantucket rents aren’t cheap! I was 25 and the only thing I had to my name was my old 1997 Jeep. Once I finally signed on the dotted line, I knew it was all up to me. I put my head down and just started putting the store together. No matter how long that to do list is, there is only so much you can do in a day. So just take it one day at a time!
Year 7 – Your team is everything!
As your business grows, you can’t do it all on your own. You have to start putting your faith in others to help you carry out your vision! Everyone who works at Milly & Grace is like family to me. It is so important to me to cultivate a positive environment where we all take care of each other and support one another. I really couldn’t do it without them.
3. What is your favorite aspect of the Nantucket business community?
Hands down the amazing people I have met! Some of my fellow business owners have become dear friends – people I may not have gotten to know if I didn’t have the shop. I am so grateful to have a group of people who are doing the same thing that I can bounce ideas off of. My dear friend Julie Biondi of The Lovely has been there to pick me up in a panic with honest and thoughtful advice and it has meant the world to me.
It is also wonderful to see just how many business owners join together and support our community! When there is a fundraiser or a family is in need of help, the Nantucket business owners are the first to show their support – whether it is donating to an auction or helping with an event.
Keep shopping on Nantucket everyone!! You are supporting great group of people!
4. How has your boutique evolved in the past seven years… and what has always remained the same?
The concept of the store has remained the same – clothing, accessories, gifts and home goods. The trends change year to year so by keeping up with that changes the look of the store!
As I was setting up the store the first year, I kept opening box after box thinking how am I going to sell all of this?? What if no one shops here? How am I going to pay for it all? But the funny thing is that I look at pictures from the first year and can’t believe how bare the store looked and I thought there was so much merchandise! Needless to say, we are better now at filling the store to the brim. Now, opening box after box, the challenge is trying to figure out what will be our next bestseller and did we order enough! The summer happens so quickly that if you sell out of something you need your reorders yesterday!
5. You became a mother this year to twin boys and we love following #TheHollisterBoys! How do you find the work life balance of being an entrepreneur, a business owner AND a full time mom?
Haha!! That’s a good question!! I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. It never seems like there enough hours in the day. I thought that I had no time before I had babies… It really makes you appreciate what our parents do for us! I am trying to follow my own advice and take it all one day at a time! When I found out I was having twins, I immediately took a step back from the store so that I could make sure it could operate without me. I figured out what I could do from home and what responsibilities I could hand off to the team.
Everyday brings a new challenge and we are figuring it out as we go! Even if that means I have to get up and go into the shop at 5am before the boys wake up!
6. What’s your best advice to those that want to get into retail?
1. Retail truly is a labor of love. It isn’t just pretty clothes! There is a lot that goes into keeping a shop operating!
2. Lean on your support group. During the first few years, you need your family & friends to be there for you, give advice and believe in you as you build a business! And now that I am a new mom and trying to juggle home & work life, I lean on my family & friends to help me with the boys and so that I can make some time for my first baby (Milly & Grace)!
Spending time at the store is a nice little “break” and it reminds me how much I love it! It makes me appreciate my time with both the boys & the store more.
7. What mantra do you live by?
BE HERE NOW. This is something I have to constantly remind myself of! It’s in my nature to always be thinking 10 steps ahead of myself; what do I need to be doing next etc. As I am adjusting to this “new life”, I have to be mindful to not think about my enormous to do list for the store when I am with my babies and likewise, when I am at the store, I should try to not think about the piles of laundry or how I just can’t get to the grocery store! Moms keep telling me that it all goes by so quickly (I am already realizing this!) and I have to remember to soak it up!
Keep up to date with the amazing Emily, #TheHollisterBoys and her life on Nantucket and at Milly & Grace by following her on instagram below. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org