Small Business Saturday, Featuring Chloe’s Closet and Owner Hannah Hereford
Chloe’s Closet is one of the many gems of Old Town Katy, giving parents access to like new clothing at the very best prices. Owner Hannah Hereford runs the beloved Chloe’s Closet which offers gently used clothing, shoes, and toys for children and expecting mothers in a boutique environment. Nestled right on the edge of Avenue B in Old Katy, it’s like that building was made for this store. And this store was made for Katy.
Hannah opened Chloe’s Closet in November 2017 after several years as a stay-at-home mom. She and her husband, Carlton, have two children themselves and when their youngest child turned eight Hannah decided it was time to go back to work, however, she didn’t know what a career would look like, especially after being home with her kids for so many years.
The idea for a children’s resale shop came to Hannah randomly and came from the notion that although Katy is always growing at a rapid pace and kids’ activities are everywhere, there were few places to buy affordable clothes for all these growing children. That night she told her husband about her idea and to her surprise he was all in and on board! So, they prayed about it and soon they ran with it.
The Hereford’s didn’t have the easiest start with the store, but not even a thousand year flood could keep them down! Chloe’s Closet, named after their new puppy at the time, was set and ready to open the doors in the Fall of 2017, but around that time Hurricane Harvey hit our region hard. But Katy did what Katy does best, which is showing up and lending a helping hand for those who need it. The community rallied around Hannah and her business and showed up to help the shop recover from storm damage. They officially opened the doors on Chloe’s Clost in November 2017 and now, more than a year later, they’re focused on getting the store to its second anniversary and absolutely thriving! Hannah is forever grateful to the Katy community for the welcome it’s given Chloe’s Closet and from what we hear, Katy is grateful to have such a great place they can depend on for adorable, affordable kids clothing.
Another amazing quality about Chloe’s Closet is their commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs and charities. In addition to clothing and shoes, the store also offers a variety of products from local crafters, new and gently used toys as well as woven items from Heshima Ministries, an organization that helps women in Uganda.
We’re thrilled to feature this boss mama on our platform and give you guys a little insight into their business, how they make it all work while being busy parents, and future plans for Chloe’s Closet!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Katy?
I am originally from Dallas and my husband is from Austin. We have lived in Katy since we got married in 2002.
You’re a mama, too! How many kiddos do you have and what are their names?
We have 2 children, Mason and Brooke. (our youngest dog is Chloe)
What did you do before you were a business owner?
Previous to children, I taught junior high math. When my son was born, I decided to stay home with him full-time. When he started kindergarten, I still had my daughter at home, but I was ready for some type of work in addition to “mommy”. I volunteered both at the school and at church more hours than I could count. I also joined Thirty-One Gifts just for fun, but wow, did my business grow! It quickly became my at-home “job”. I ended up being in leadership for almost 6 years. I absolutely loved my customers and my team. I met amazing women and many of them still help pass along the news that Chloe’s Closet has opened.
When did you decide to open Chloe’s Closet and what was the inspiration behind it?
In my 5th year with Thirty-One, God made it clear that He had something else in store for me. I had no idea what it would be. After questioning Him for too long, I finally chose to to close that door, so He could open the new door. A good friend helped bounce ideas around with me, but nothing stuck. My husband and I prayed about the next steps for me and just waited. The idea for a children’s resale shop came to me randomly, while eating solo at Panera and watching the buildout of the new Stomping Grounds across the street. Katy is growing at a rapid pace and kids’ activities are everywhere, yet there are few places to buy affordable clothes for all these growing children. My husband thought it was a great idea, so we prayed about it and soon ran with it. We did briefly wonder how we would go from me being home every day to me working 7 days a week, but we just felt it would work out.
It’s hard to describe the charm of Old Town Katy to someone who’s never seen it. Why did you choose this area to open your business?
Old Katy has the most amazing community. And the feel of “community” is what we want you to feel when you walk into Chloe’s Closet. We looked at spaces all over the Katy area and even submitted a letter of intent for a new space being built on 1463. But while waiting for that to be accepted, we kept circling back to Old Katy. Our friends own Katerra Market down the street and we loved the small town feel. With all the other shops and restaurants also being locally- and family-owned, we hoped we would fit right in. And to be honest (this may be terrible to say out loud), the rent per square foot is a bit less expensive. 😉
After passing this building at least once a week on my way to the post office for 6 years and NEVER noticing it, I pulled in to the small parking lot one day and saw the “for lease” sign. I got out of the car and peeked in. I immediately felt at home. It may or may not be where we will be forever, but for now, it has purpose. We are positive that we are currently where God wants us and that the purpose is His.
Tell us more about Chloe’s Closet and what you think it is that makes people continue to come back?
Chloe’s Closet is more than a resale shop. We hope that parents and grandparents always feel welcome and appreciated for coming in. Parents are also encouraged to shop with kids in tow. We have a Kid’s Corner the kids really enjoy and we are very particular about the quality of the gently-loved items that we purchase. We know that it is against the trend to step away from online shopping and go to a brick-and-mortar store, so we hope that our customer service and excellent quality of products keep customers coming back.
You have more than just clothes, right?
Yes! We have children’s and maternity clothing, shoes, toys, books, baby items (such as walkers, strollers, pack-n-plays, baby carriers, etc), and much more. Our children’s clothing spans from Preemie to Juniors. We also carry some new items as well, including handmade baby shower gifts, Melissa & Doug toys and NWT (new-with-tag) clothing. Parents always ask if we carry boys’ clothing. Yes! We have both boys and girls.
What’s the process like if parents want to bring in gently used toys or clothes and how do they get paid for those?
We offer cash and store credit options for parents wanting to sell their items. We are usually on quite a long wait list and are currently not adding to the list. However, we hope that parents will watch our facebook page or website for updates or follow up with us in the late spring to ask if we have a wait list started again. We appreciate our sellers so much! Without them, we wouldn’t have such nice items to share with the Katy community. One thing that we do want the community to recognize, though, is that as we grow with more customers, the more sellers we will be able to accommodate. We are growing for sure, but we are working on continuing to get the word out that we are here.
What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
I have several equally-favorite parts, so I’ll share a few. While it has been quite a commitment from my entire family, taking me away from home a little more than initially intended, my first favorite part is hearing my daughter tell her friends and teachers about the store. She may not admit it all the time, but I think she is really proud of me starting from scratch to build Chloe’s Closet, and she is proud of the help that she was able to give to build it (and to rebuild it after Hurricane Harvey). I hope that this experience is an inspiration to her as she grows into a young adult.
I am also so thankful when customers tell me how much it is helping their family financially. Even though we are a “for-profit” business, there will not be profit for a very long time. Instead, we hope that our time here is providing the community with less expensive options and a few extra dollars in their pockets.
And last, but not least, I really enjoy my staff. I could not successfully run this store without them. We are mostly staffed by high school students and this is their first job. To be able to provide this experience for them and to see them learn and become more confident over time is priceless.
Best advice for someone wanting to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship or wanting to open their own business?
If you are a praying person, pray about it. For us, only with God has this come together so smoothly. Also, make sure that you have a good bit of savings that can be invested. There are a lot of costs you will not know about until you are in the process. Don’t be afraid to jump in.
What’s your favorite thing about interacting with the people of our Katy community?
People in the Katy community are so friendly and supportive! I’ve had very few conversations in the shop that have not left me with a smile.
How do you think the Katy area community impacted your business?
We depend completely on the community to keep us running. While we have tried advertising in other ways, the community talking about Chloe’s Closet or sharing on social media is the way most of our new customers hear about us. When customers share with us what people are saying about us out there, it is so encouraging. It lifts all of us up and keeps us going day after day.
What’s one thing you’d like to go back and tell the you before you were a business owner?
Other than learning more about tax filing (yikes), I don’t think there is really anything I’d go back and tell myself. All of the struggles that we’ve had, from flooding during the hurricane to being months behind on sellers at one point, have taught us so much. It’s all about the ups-and-downs and trial-and-error. If you don’t experience challenges or try procedures that just don’t work, you don’t have the opportunity to see how far you’ve come.
Who inspires you most in business?
I’m going to change the word “inspires” to “supports”. My husband. With the change in home dynamic (him now home more than me), we’ve had some struggles along the way. But we’ve grown so much in our marriage and our family, really communicating and depending on each other. He sends me texts throughout each day to remind me that what we are doing is a good thing. Chloe’s Closet’s doors would not still be open at this point without his support.
When things get hard, what’s one thing you tell yourself to keep going?
My husband’s encouragement, my employees’ laughter and our customers’ compliments. The simple things. I also tell myself that regardless of the amount of work I am behind on, my family and staff need me rested and well. So I have learned to never compromise sleep. Being rested and ready for a new day every day keeps me going.
How do you balance being a business owner, wife, and mama?
Honestly, I could not balance all of this without my husband’s support. Even though I am the only family member who physically works at the shop, a family business is a FAMILY business. Everyone pitches in or makes sacrifices one way or another. We have two very active kids and their sports and activity schedules take up a lot of time. With my husband’s help, they make it to all of their try-outs, practices and other activities. He works his own job, coaches our daughter’s basketball team, volunteers at the school, helps to plan our daughter’s playdates, and he even covers many of the chores I used to do at our home. I do work 7 days a week (7th day from home), including mornings before the kids wake up and any evening we don’t have activities, so I couldn’t be more thankful for his willingness to jump in. He helps so much so that when I do set aside free time, we can spend it together.
Thankfully, as I mentioned before, I also have an amazing staff! They are able to cover the store so that I can be at all of our kids’ games. Our payroll is a bit too high for what the shop is currently bringing in, but having the kids at home is a short season of life and it’s worth it to do whatever it takes to be there for them.
Do you experience ‘mom guilt’ and if so, how do you deal?
I don’t think ‘mom guilt’ should be a thing. We should all just do our best with where we are in life and tell our kids we love them every day. They observe what we do and see that we balance a lot. A hug or a 5-minute conversation goes a long way just to remind them that they are always our #1, no matter what. Tonight, for example, I stopped writing these answers just to stretch with my daughter after a sports practice. We were silly and we laughed. That was the time she needed with me to finish out her day.
I learned a lot through my SAHM and WAHM years. I absolutely loved staying at home with my kids, but what I did not enjoy was the mommy judgment and the mommy guilt that others put on my shoulders. Years ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to feel guilty for taking care of myself or doing things that I enjoy, even if that thing was simply to go back to working outside the home. A few years ago, I even added a hobby to the mix and I am still active with this hobby today. Seeing how I look forward to this each week, my husband has now also picked up a hobby of his own. Taking care of ourselves and enjoying life daily is a much better way to spend time than spending it worrying or feeling ‘mom guilt’.
Future plans for your business?
We pray, plan and hope to grow! For now, we take it one day at a time and are just trying to make the bills. 😉
Any discounts our Katy Moms can look out for?
* Mention Katy Mom’s Network and receive 10% off through February 28th.
* We always offer 5% off for anyone who would like to check-in or tag us on social media.
* Clearance racks are currently 40% off. * Select swim are 10% off.
* We also host monthly preschool reading time, with the help of Usborne Rep, Cristina Mejia. During her events, we offer 20% off all gently–loved items that are not already on discount. Our next preschool reading times are Tuesdays, 2/19 & 3/19.
* We add new inventory every single day, all at amazingly low gently-loved prices.
For more information on Hannah and Chloe’s Closet, make sure to follow them on social media and visit their website!
Social Media Handles: FB: @chloesclosetresale