Helene Singer Cash is the local business owner of Crystal Couture, found on the square in Lebanon. I’ve used her jewelry and products for several of our Wilson Living photo shoots, as well as The Wilson Post Fashion Friday articles I write for the back page on Fridays. Helene is interesting because if you’ve met her, you know she is a very savvy female business owner. I wanted to pick her brain on how she has gotten to where she is and how her store in Lebanon, found its special niche.
here Where are you from originally?
I was born in Philadelphia and have lived in several areas along the East Coast of the US. My childhood is filled with great memories of traveling to NYC, Boston and Miami.
follow url What is your background in fashion and how did you get started on this path?
So much of that is credited to my mom. She taught me that fashion is timeless and how your outside can match your inside. I was interested in fashion from a very young age, and it did not hurt that my parents owned a shoe store! After college, I did not stay in my chosen field and opened a small clothing store in FL that was focused on casual clothing for a mature woman. This was fun but I was young, and by age 25 sold this business, and moved to Nashville. I soon found myself working for Chanel (cosmetics and fragrance) which I did for the next 10 years. As you can imagine, this confirmed and solidified my interest in luxury brands. What an incredible company to be a part of! The legendary fashion house is the epitome of luxury, and working there taught me that “fashion fades and only style remains.”
What made you want to open a store in Wilson County?
We looked around Wilson County for the right location and quickly determined that the Historic Square in Lebanon was the place for our sparkly fun. Then came the waiting game. Patience is not my strong suit, but I had to wait for the right space. The opportunity finally came on May 2, 2010 – a very sad day for anyone living in middle Tennessee, let alone a business on the Square. The Historic Square flooded, with some stores having over five feet of water. For me, it was a blessing in disguise! The building that I had pined over was now available, and even though we lost everything at Opry Mills Mall, we would soon have a new home. For us, the tragedy had an amazing silver lining.
What does Crystal Couture offer to customers that other local stores do not?
We have fun with fashion! Every store has its own personality and is special in its own way. At Crystal Couture, we treat our customers with respect. They come in as customers, but leave as girlfriends. We’re going to tell you the truth. If it doesn’t work, match, or look good, don’t buy it! Our new girlfriends often just stop in to say hello. If we haven’t seen you in a while, look for a FaceBook post asking how you are, or a phone call checking to see that you’re OK. We’re building friendships.
Another great aspect about being here in Lebanon is that on so many occasions we’ve had friends and neighbors stop by just to tell us they’re happy that we’re here, or how pleased they are that we chose Lebanon for our business. How often do you hear that?
When putting together the business model for The Crystal Couture Store, a key focus was to ensure that each woman would be able to find her style, but would feel comfortable that she wouldn’t see it on someone else. We buy items in limited quantities so we don’t have to worry about seeing the same thing on everyone.
What’s your favorite part of being a business owner?
No two days are ever the same. You have to be able to climb a ladder in those high heels if you want to get it done. Working with our new girlfriends is the best part of the day – matching an outfit, putting together wedding jewelry, or putting a new hat on someone for the first time because they never thought they could wear a hat…so much fun!
How do you find your product to fill the store?
Sourcing! Sourcing! Sourcing! I’m never afraid to ask questions – “Where did you get those shoes? Who did that hat?” I attend four different trade shows a year to purchase, which includes travel to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
What would be your advice to young girls wanting to own and open their own boutique one day?
Hard work. Find a great mentor to coach you along the way, seek out someone you admire and ask if you can work with them. I met my mentor at Chanel and he has been an influence along the way. Be as educated in your field as you can be – the more knowledge you have, the more tools you have in your tool belt. Be able to take the accolades along with the bumps. The bumps in the road aren’t easy, but they’re there for a reason. Without them, the successes aren’t as sweet.
I always knew that I wanted to own my own boutique, but I also knew that there were several skill sets I needed to develop prior to opening the doors. Did I understand advertising, marketing, personnel management, inventory management, finances? My long-term plan was to become educated in these skills so I would be as diversified as possible when opening day came around. Am I an expert? No. But I learn every day and keep an open mind. This is an amazing ride!