Renae Hockemeyer always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, specifically in retail. While serving as the chamber of commerce director for her town, she received a call from a boutique franchise and realized it was the perfect opportunity for her to follow her dreams. Renae opened the franchised boutique on April 1, 2014.
After operating for a couple of years as a franchisee and not liking it, Renae transitioned out of the franchise and became the sole owner and operator of her own retail shop, Makenna Jane’s Boutique.
Because she previously worked for the chamber of commerce, Renae was familiar with America’s SBDC Iowa. When she took the leap of faith to open her own business, Renae relied on University of Northern Iowa SBDC counselor Jessica Marsh to help her through the triumphs and trials of owning a business.
Renae describes her experience with Jess as wonderful. “She gave me a voice. I am confident in her because she owns her own boutique. I needed someone to guide me and she did just that,” Renae says. With a busy farmer husband, Renae needed someone to bounce ideas off of. Jess advised Renae to seek legal advice, helped with financing, plus identified profit margins and marketing strategies. Renae says Jess has “gone beyond her job title. She has helped save my business.”
Renae employs four women on a rotating schedule. She also serves on the Marketing and Planning Committee of Main Street Grundy Center. Renae is determined to continue to grow her own business and help support other small businesses in the area, hoping they will reciprocate. If a tourist group comes into town, she can help them have the full Grundy Center experience, from shopping at her boutique to enjoying a nice dinner from a local restaurant.
Makenna Jane’s Boutique partners with 4-H and Iowa State Extension to host a mentoring program for developing women, using fashion to boost confidence in young women. Eventually, Renae would like to see a scholarship developed.
While Renae has had an eventful journey with her own business, she realizes that she is doing what she loves. She has the ability to be both an entrepreneur and a supporter of local businesses. Renae’s future plans for the business include expanding into a possible second location and creating a website.
To learn more about Makenna Jane’s Boutique, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lilliansofgrundycenter/.