On YNF Entertainment Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, the first love of Primp CEO Wesley Uthus was fashion. And it was her niche. She built a booming business. She talks about it on the People And Places And How We Use Spaces Podcast.
Primp CEO Wesley Uthus
Fashion was Wesley Uthus’s first love. It was also her specialty. She got her first job at Land’s End, where she got a taste of retail and all of its responsibilities. Since she would soon become the founder and chief executive officer of a clothing chain for women, she would acquire a number of skills from there.
“I learned so much there in customer service and dressing people that weren’t at all my style, said Wesley Uthus. “And selling products. I really learned a ton being in that setting and really loved it. I knew I wanted to continue to work in retail throughout my college years.”
Primp CEO Wesley Uthus is Featured on Lisa Christianson’s Latest Podcast, People and Places and How We Use Spaces Uthus worked at Abercrombie, Banana Republic, and Len Druskin while pursuing a degree in fashion at the University of Minnesota. When she graduated from college in 2008, the economy was in a slump and she was trying to find work, but it seemed like no one was hiring in the fashion industry.
“I was just waiting tables and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life,” remembered Wesley Uthus. “I met a friend who also had a degree in fashion, and we were both trying to find our way. Really spontaneously we came up with the idea of Primp. She and I felt like there was nowhere for us to shop that was affordable but still a boutique…we wanted to shop somewhere that felt local, felt unique, felt high-end, but we could afford everything.”
Primp was born at that point. Finding financial support was their next step. Despite the fact that no banks were eager to lend money in 2008, it proved to be more difficult than usual. They were at the mercy of any landlord willing to rent them a space and were able to wrangle $16,000 together. Amazingly, Primp bought his first house in St. Paul from a landlord who had the perfect spot on the corner of Selby Avenue and Dale Street.
“We signed a two-year lease with a personal guarantee…so we had to sell 6 dresses a day for two years to make rent,” said Wesley Uthus. “That was the deal. It’s so funny reflecting back on that. Gosh, we were so lucky. We had no idea what we were getting into and how that space would allow us to grow and develop the brand.”
Primp’s grand opening was a huge success because every item of inventory was sold, and people queued up the block. As Primp was still open the following day, Uthus and her husband rushed to the bar next door, maxing out their credit cards and overnighting additional inventory. Uthus and her partner realized, a month after opening Primp, that they had won the lottery and that expansion was inevitable.
Expansion Of Primp
Their second store opened in The Shops at West End a year later, and their third store opened in downtown White Bear Lake. Primp crossed state lines to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and had nine locations across the Twin Cities at their height. Despite the expanding business’s success, obstacles arose along the way.
“Hiring the internal management was the hardest part, but also the most rewarding,” said Wesley Uthus. “Finding the right people that know what they’re doing but also want to work for a small growing business…it was a lot of trial and error and finding what kinds of positions were necessary, and what kind of people should fill those positions.”
After her partner sold her shares at the end of 2018, Uthus became the sole owner of Primp. With seven stores and approximately 60 employees, Primp was in excellent position; Uthus managed the expansion of Primp’s e-commerce business despite not being aware of the approaching Covid years and was determined to make 2020 one of her business’s best. Covid, like everyone else, had a big impact on her business, forcing her to lay off all of her employees, close two stores, and take care of all online orders on her own while she was pregnant with her third child. More read Primp CEO Wesley Uthus is Featured on Lisa Christianson’s Latest Podcast, People and Places and How We Use Spaces.
People And Places And How We Use Spaces Podcast
Primp CEO Wesley Uthus was aware of Primp’s resilience from its humble beginnings in St. Paul. Her business expansion demonstrated her tenacity, but her first love of fashion is what keeps the store going. The podcast episode of People And Places And How We Use Spaces where Wesley Uthus talks about the development of Primp and her experiences in business was released to the public on Tuesday, January 17th.