We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashleigh Derby and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashleigh, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?

I started my business in May 2019, because a saw a void in my community. Dot + Dash was originally created in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I noticed that my community was very limited to local clothing options. Most people were shopping at chains or online +  I always enjoyed going into small boutiques in other cities. Seeing the personal touches that different boutiques put into their business + the excellent customers service and assistance you received was always so enjoyable. I decided that opening a clothing boutique that could provide that same customer service and personal shopping experience for every customer that walked through my door would be beneficial + welcomed in Cedar Rapids.

When I decided to open my own boutique I knew I wanted the brand to be a true reflection of my personality + the things that I enjoy. I knew from a marketing standpoint it is much easier for me to stay consistent + true to the brand when I am being 100% authentic to myself. I knew I wanted the brand to be able to create laughter, confidence + fun or every customer I interacted with. The Dot + Dash brand goes beyond clothes; I want my customers to be able to wear what makes them feel good + confident. Plus, we are all nicer when we like our outfit, which you will see the saying ” I AM NICER WHEN I LIKE MY OUTFIT.” used quite frequently, because it is not only true, but it makes people laugh. Beyond clothes + shopping, Dot + Dash’s brand is a reflection of some of my other favorite things : coffee, wine + dogs. You will see my two goldendoodles, Hayden + Dezi, be featured on my website, social media platforms + even used in some product images. Dot + Dash loves to participate in dog friendly events + I will even bring my dogs to events when permitted.


Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Dot + Dash has a very unique + fun shopping experience, the boutique can come to YOU! You can book the boutique for private events, fundraisers, markets + any other event you would like. I will drive our mobile boutique, Dottie, to you.

Friends, colleagues, family, etc. can then step into the mobile boutique shopping experience. Dottie is equipped with racks, shelving, a fitting room + an air conditioner. Enjoy shopping at your own pace with Ashleigh, the owner, right there to help answer any questions or offer any suggestions you may need.

When it comes to Dot + Dash Boutique I am most proud of my ability to constantly evolve + get creative. With opening in 2019, I actually spent my 1st year anniversary during a shut down from the pandemic, but I knew if I wanted to Dot + Dash to continue to be successful I had to get creative in the way my business ran. Creating a mobile boutique gave me the ability to do personal shopping experiences + have a more private experience with customers where they felt comfortable + safe. Then as the pandemic restrictions started to diminish I had the ability to service much larger groups at larger events by easily going to people.

Owning a business is not easy, even if you start a business + you are successful right away there will always be unforeseen challenges that force to to pivot your business model. I have overcome challenges by thinking outside the box, I spend many hours online, researching + just trying to set myself apart from other businesses. Designing a unique shopping experience was a very challenges idea to even develop + then to execute the idea had a whole different list of challenges. I have learned to not give up when you believe in something, it may end up costing more or taking longer than what you originally planned, but in the end it is worth not giving up.

The biggest lesson I have learned in business ownership is you cannot please everyone. There is no way!! There will always be someone who tells you what you “should” do, someone you offend, or just someone who doesn’t like what you have to offer + that is okay. Learning that there will always be someone out there that doesn’t like the way I do things was the biggest lesson that I had to accept. I have completely shifted my mentality from when I started my business in this department, I would let every comment and every suggestion take up so much of my time + then I realized it is impossible to provide a brand everyone agrees with. Now, there are many suggestions that I have tried to implement, customers provide the best feedback, but I just have to take each one + determine which ones actually fit my brand + are feasible to implement.

The biggest thing about my brand is not to take life too seriously, I am a sarcastic person who likes to laugh + have fun. I promise when it comes to my brand I am not trying to offend anyone or single people out intentionally. I am trying to make this world a little more light-hearted with a laugh + some smiles. I want people to feel good, confident + happy in what they wear + who they are!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Eat: Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers, North, Canal Club, Little O’s Arcadia Market, OHSO, The Hudson Bar & Eatery Coffee: Press, The Nile Coffee Shop
Drink: Postino (would eat here too)

We would go to downtown Gilbert, I love the few blocks that you can walk to shop, eat + drink. You can make a whole day out of that + enjoy many local places in one stop.

We would go to Cham Pang Lanes, my best friend + I are big fans of prosecco/champagne, but then when you add games + some friendly competition to that it is even better.

I absolutely love The Scott, it is so beautifully renovated, so we would definitely go to the Canal Club to have lunch. Then we would visit Old Town, because again there are so many places in walking distance. You can just park in one spot to shop + eat local.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Zach, deserves a MAJOR shout out. Owning a clothing boutique was never a life long dream of mine, I saw an opportunity + felt passionate about the opportunity to build a brand.. When I went to Zach with my random idea, he never once told me “no”, laughed at me or discouraged me. In fact, he did the exact opposite. He accepted the idea, listened to what my plan was + why I thought I could be successful, he challenged me + made sure it was something I truly wanted to pursue. Once we fully decided to dive in with this venture he was with me every step of the way. He would be up late at night with me steaming clothes, tagging clothes, emptying my trash can every time it was full + filling my wine glass when it was empty. He believed in my ability 100% of the way + did everything in his power to help me get the boutique going. Beyond that he has never discouraged me, even when the pandemic had a significant impact on my business he was always there with encouraging words + continued to support every creative idea I would think of. This is about the time when Dottie (the mobile boutique) was brought into the picture.

I was scrolling through Instagram + saw an old bread truck that was somewhat renovated, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to step out of the box + get creative with my brand. We drove two hours to look at the truck + ultimately it fell through, the vehicle was not very safe for me to be driving long distances alone + we decided to pass. Zach then did not allow me to give up on this idea, he once again encouraged me to keep looking for another truck + I eventually found one. This one was 3 hours away, so he drove with me once again to look at the bread truck without any guarantee we would be coming home with it. We decided this one was a perfect fit, but it had a lot of work to be done, so Zach and a friend of ours, Evan, did a complete makeover on the truck. It went from an old, grey painters truck to a beautiful, fully functional, PINK mobile boutique.

I could not ask for a more supportive + encouraging partner, owning a business comes with a constant roller coaster of emotions. He is there to build me up when I am down + he is my biggest fan when I am having the best day, without him Dot + Dash Boutique would have never been created.

Website: www.dotanddashboutique.com

Instagram: @dotanddash.boutique and @dottiethepinkhottie

Facebook: Dot And Dash Boutique

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