“Store Spotlight” is a mini project we work on here in Roni Rabl where we showcase our stores and their owners, with the goal in mind to learn and share about how to make a fashion store successful. Here’s the short story of one and only Sandy Lew, owner of sandylew. Q. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? A. Cherry Garcia from Ben and Gerry– hits the spot EVERY time!It is a flavor like life–a hint of something good coming in the next bite! Q. What’s your birth date? A. September 12 Q. What made you become a store owner? A. I have always made my way through life as an artist.In order to subsidize a new-to-me studio space beginning in 2001, I agreed to help a friend expand her gift/furniture shop into clothing. I went on buying trips with her and kept track of inventory-manually! While very interesting, she was at times quite difficult~buying trips could be kind of unpleasant!One day in 2005. When I came back from Los Angeles tired and grumpy (and after her business had expanded quite successfully into clothing), my husband said to me, “why don’t you do this for yourself?!” I can actually still see him in the kitchen saying this. I had NEVER thought about having my own shop before that. And then I could not stop thinking about it! I love the part where we can make a woman feel good about herself, happy to meet the world in clothing that suits her! I left the employ of my friend in 2005, not wanting her to feel I was going to compete while still her employee. Then off I went opening in my welding studio two years later (October 2007) until my current location downtown Seattle became ready and renovated January 2008. I do love it. I love the grumpy customer turned friend, I love doing the window displays, I love re-configuring the shop, I love knowing many different reps and designers, and I am very very lucky to have employees who seem happy to be on this little adventure as well.I learn and share so much with other women in business. I say these things because I also think it is important to know why one continues to be a little shop keeper! Q. What is the most important tip you can give someone who is about to open a store? A. For success~LOCATION and a true understanding of WHO the customer is at that location For peace of mind~solid financing, enough to get through at least 2 years of flat sales or actual loss (my accountant could not believe I could be that pessimistic!) You probably will not need it, but the back up takes a lot of the pressure off your head! For Fun~form a team-mine consists of my cousin, my (MBA) god son,a friend who is an accountant/CEO-this is my team that thinks it is a hoot that I decided to have a little shop, so we kind of chat about the shop as a project-none of them are in any way invested, nor are they paid! For safety- Unless you are very good at such things, have very good, very reliable , very trustworthy book keepers. Mine save me every week–I always know just where I stand and I know the bills are paid on time! For clarity~ the vision must be your own. I listen to advice, I consider it always. Then I move forward, informed and possibly incorporating the ideas of others, ~ knowing that women come to the shop again and again because they trust my vision . And, in the end–no one else pays the bills, no one else pays for the mistakes!