Tracy Brown says she has always had a passion for clothing, customer service and retail.
Brown, who received her bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota's College of Design Retail Merchandising Program, would have loved to jump right into founding her own brand out of college, but the process seemed a little trickier at that point. “It’s much easier these days, with the tools you can use from Shopify and different online templates,” Brown explains.
After working managerial roles at department stores, Brown was looking for a change of pace and a more consistent work schedule. But even though she left the retail industry for a corporate role in insurance, her passion for fashion was never far from her mind.
Brown enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s MBA program in 2018, but she didn’t wait for graduation to start making her dreams come true. “Flash forward to when I wanted to find my company. I was in all these business classes, and I’m like, ‘How come all these people can do it?’ There’re all these people who have started their own companies,” she says.
So Brown got to work on her own clothing brand, Lynette Tracy Fashion Boutique. The point initially wasn’t perfection, Brown says, but rather simply getting started and learning through doing.
“I founded [Lynette Tracy Fashion Boutique] in 2019,” Brown says. “I just wanted to get started and put things out there. So I decided to just do it.”
Lynette Tracy features comfy, casual and cute clothing designed in Los Angeles, Calif. that are personally selected by Brown, but there’s an important mission that distinguishes this online boutique from many of the others on the market.
“I’m from northern Minnesota,” Brown explains. “I grew up on a reservation, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and so I wanted to put a spin on it and have some Native American representation.”
Brown says that when she was a young girl, she didn’t come across depictions of Native American women as models or businesswomen. With Lynette Tracy’s marketing, Brown uses the opportunity to feature Native American women as models as well as highlight Native American artists by including accessories like intricate beadwork earrings in the styling.
The clothing featured on Lynette Tracy’s website enjoys a broad range of appeal, which explains why it found success in over 30 states within a year of launching.
Brown says she keeps real women in mind when selecting styles to add to her brand. “I want it to be the young mom who still wants to be comfy and cute, that’s what I’m looking for,” Brown says. “I look for soft fabrics, or I look for clothing that fits your body in a nice way … I try to find anything I think will fit a typical, normal body.”
A casual clothing brand was a lucky call for 2020, when COVID-19 saw everybody reverting to comfy classics for a new work-from-home style. “I tested a few trendier pieces,” Brown says.
Many new and established businesses were affected by the onset of COVID quarantine measures in March 2020, and Lynette Tracy was no exception. “It was definitely a challenge,” Brown says. “I feel like, back up to March, it was a challenge getting inventory in that I’d previously ordered.”
But there was a boom for online retailers during the initial months of quarantine: more time for idyl eyes to peruse social media. “I was able to reach a lot of customers and find a lot of new customers with the jump in online traffic,” Brown says. “And then I just had to make sure I maintained those relationships throughout the summer.”
Quarantine might have been a boost for some online retailers, but it also got in the way of one of Brown’s goals for her brand. “I do have plans to test up some pop-up shops,” Brown says. “I would love to have a pop-up shop scheduled by [summer].”
A permanent storefront doesn’t appeal to Brown right now, especially with the market trend leaning towards online retailers. An office that doubles as a showroom, on the other hand, is something Brown says she would love to explore in the future.
“I think one goal of mine would be to have an office space that is in a nice location, that would get a bit of traffic, because then I could have a show room,” Brown says. “I would love to have a show room where customers can come in and talk to me, feel the clothing, pick up their order if they’re local, ask questions. That would be great.”
In the meantime, Brown will continue to be an online entrepreneur, balancing a fulltime job in digital marketing with running the marketing, advertising and website for her own online fashion brand.
If your own aesthetic values the cute and the comfortable, be sure to check out Lynette Tracy Fashion Boutique at lynettetracy.com.
A Brilliant Resurgence for Spring 2021
Tracy Brown predicts a bright rebound for spring fashion this year, citing what she’s seen at fashion tradeshows like Las Vegas’ MAGIC fashion marketplace.
“For 2021, the trends on the high fashion runways—which will trickle down into mainstream fashions—have been the fun and whimsical colors,” Brown says. “Bright colors are coming back. People are looking for something bright, exciting and fun compared to where we’ve been. I don’t foresee buying a lot of tie-dye this year. For me, I think it will be more of the athletic wear. A lot of people are focused on health.”