Filly Flair is an online boutique that sells on-trend clothing to women worldwide. They also have a storefront in Sioux Falls, SD – their home state. Filly Flair takes pride in their unique product offerings and honest business practices. They sell quality clothing at a fair price and want the women they serve to feel confident and good about themselves while wearing them. A reflection of the emotion and energy Laura Benson (Owner) put into building a successful company, Filly Flair has the support of many employees who help keep the business thriving. They love to share Laura’s story and their employees’ stories with others – they’re memorable and empowering, and they make them special. Women don’t just buy their clothing…they buy everything they stand for.
- Women’s Clothing
- Active Wear
- Plus Sizes
- Bridesmaid Dresses
Filly Flair has free shipping on all orders over $50 in the United States.
As told by Jodi Schwan at sfbusinessjournal.com:
It’s hard to find a better symbol of how retail is evolving worldwide than a boutique born on a farm near Crooks. In that community of 1,300, Laura Benson learned how to run a business while working on her family’s dairy operation. “Growing up on a dairy farm, unpredictable things happen all the time, and you always work. It’s just part of your livelihood,” she told me. “I can do everything but surgery on a cow.”
But after graduating high school and putting herself through a semester of college, “I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Benson said. So she left. She loves agriculture and figured she would end up working in it, but her entrepreneurial spirit took over. Benson decided to start selling Western-styled clothing and accessories when she would go to rodeos. At the time, “blingy belts” and other cowboy wear were popular. This was about seven years ago, incidentally.
“Then, I realized I was having a lot of customers who were not Western, and I realized there was a lot bigger audience,” she said. She named the business Filly Flair. “Filly” is a nod to the Western roots. “Flair” allows her to target young women. “I wanted something catchy. It took me about a day,” she said. “I really love it now because it stands out.” Even in her biggest business dreams, I’m not sure she would have guessed what a standout Filly Flair was about to be.
When Benson graduated from high school, a little more than a decade ago, she didn’t have the Internet in her Crooks farmhouse. But technology moves fast, and Benson ended up creating a page for Filly Flair on Facebook. At the time, the social media platform didn’t have business pages, so she created it as though the boutique were a person. “No one else was doing it,” she said. “I was up until midnight doing it when I was working 12 hours on the farm, and I put every dime into it, including some of my paychecks, because I figured the faster I could grow it the more I could sell.” She posted photos of pieces daily, and not only did they start selling, but customers started sharing them.
And then Benson did what to most budding entrepreneurs would be unthinkable. She put the business on hold to plan her wedding — in a barn — and “I didn’t want to let my customers down and not be able to take care of them,” she said. She relaunched in late 2012, with a little trepidation.
“I couldn’t believe how fast it took off because I did nothing for nine months, so I was a little nervous, but I had a decent Facebook following,” she said. “But you have to live and breathe it. The first year of marriage, I was at work until 10 p.m. You have to do everything and make that sacrifice to make it work. And it’s timing and knowing your customers and want they want.” She got it right, and the numbers confirmed it.
Filly Flair increased its Facebook following from 50,000 people to 500,000 in one year, and sales followed. “It was a lot of ‘right place at the right time,’ ” Benson said. “Social media is a beast and you have to feed it, and the second you stop feeding it everything goes backward. I didn’t know that at the time, but I knew the more I posted, the faster stuff sold and the more people wanted it.”
Earlier this year, she reached a mammoth milestone. Filly Flair now has more than 1 million fans on Facebook. I can’t think of another South Dakota-based business that even comes close. “It all happened so fast, and I was so busy I never thought about it,” Benson said. “When it happens that fast, it doesn’t seem that big. You’re just trying to do the best you can.”
But before you point to Benson’s success online as proof that we don’t need bricks-and-mortar stores, you should know that she disagrees. Last year, she opened a retail store in Sioux Falls, and June 1 she will move it to an expanded space with daily hours at 57th Street and Louise Avenue. This is what the industry calls omni-channel retail. Many of the most successful retailers, research is showing, use a strategy that combines an in-store experience with an online option. Most started in a building and moved online. New players including Filly Flair are doing the opposite.
Her first store surpassed Benson’s expectations. “We have a really good, loyal following,” she said. “We’re really excited to move and offer our customers a better location to shop.” Between 90 percent and 95 percent of the business comes online. South Dakota and Texas are the biggest states for business, although Filly Flair ships internationally.
The business recently evolved to offer more professional clothing and launched its own private-label merchandise as a way to help differentiate itself in the increasingly crowded world of online boutiques. “It’s common to carry the same things, and the whole point of a boutique is specialty clothing,” Benson said. “So I’m lucky enough to be at a size where I can develop styles and work with manufacturers I know personally to design styles that will look great on 20- to 35-year-olds and be cute and fashionable but still semi-conservative.”
Benson, who recently turned 29, lives in Colton where her husband farms. They have two children, including a baby she brought with her to the boutique the day I met with her. Dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap. “I was a tomboy, still am,” she said. “Maybe that’s part of my success. I didn’t take the clothes home. I wanted to sell them instead. It’s not exactly what I would wear all the time. It’s what my customers want to wear.”
Intensely customer focused, she is aware her industry is constantly changing. Born on Facebook, the brand evolved to add Instagram, where it has 68,000 followers. “It would be too boring if it was just the same as five years ago,” she said, in all seriousness. As an established major retailer, can you picture trying to compete with this? That’s partly why retail is evolving. But it’s certainly not dying.
Isn’t it amazing, I asked Benson, that a major new retail brand could come out of South Dakota? She nodded. “Especially in a tiny town to a farm girl,” she said. “It just goes to show you can do anything you put your mind to. I honestly believe that. But you have to want it that bad.” “So you’ve got one store and 1 million fans,” I said to her. “How big could this get?”
She shook her head. “Probably as big as I want it to be. As big as you’re willing to work for it. We’ll see.”