Kristy @ Blue Linen Boutique, Utah

I’ve struggled with social media and what it means to be so active on platforms like Instagram, but it’s such a crucial part of how we operate as a society today. It bridges the gaps between us and helps us connect with people we never would have met otherwise.

As many of you know, I've been on a mission to support more women entrepreneurs and creatives and was drawn to Kristy's boutique after I discovered it on Instagram a while back. I've talked about "shopping small" and sustainability a few times already this month and I'm really trying to focus on that. I've spent the better part of 2019 trying to connect with business owners and creatives whose goals are aligned with mine.

It's been great getting to know Kristy over at Blue Linen Boutique, based in Saint George, Utah. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristy (digitally for now, but I've love to meet her in person next time we're up in Utah!) and I'm really excited to share a bit about her and the boutique she owns and manages.

Kristy and I talk about: work-life balance, being a mom & wife + an entrepreneur & business owner, obstacles she's encountered and overcome, as well as her overall journey, which led her to where she is now.

Blue Linen Boutique is a clothing store in Saint George, which was founded by Kristy. Kristy still works in the boutique two days a week. She balances running the store with taking care of five little ones and finding time to spend quality days with her husband of almost 18 years.

To start, could you please tell me a little about yourself? Where you're from, how you got started, WHY you got started, etc.?

My name is Kristy and I am 37 (holy cow) years old. I was born and raised mostly in Provo/Orem Utah. My upbringing was one filled with obstacles: divorce, moving all the time, Stepdad, always being the new girl, but there was so much love. I am the oldest of six kids – five girls and one boy. Our brother died about thirteen years ago, but my four sisters remain my very best friends! I feel like the luckiest girl to have built-in best friends.

I saved up enough money working two and three jobs at Victorias Secret, a jewelry store, and a bath and body store through my freshman year of college to move to sunny St. George, UT to go to Dixie. I had planned to study broadcasting, but at the end of my first semester I met my husband and fell hard. I’m pretty sure I still adore him in an over-bearing "you should get a room" way. He was my absolute best decision ever!  

Two months after we got married, we move to Texas so he could start his doctorate program. Eleven months later, we had the most beautiful baby girl, and although we hadn’t planned on starting our family so soon, we loved being parents.

So, two years later, we had our second little girl and she changed our hearts forever. Brin has special needs. No one has found a diagnosis for her yet, but she is like a forever 3 or 4-year-old. She is 14 now and brings a light and tenderness that is hard to imagine if you don’t know her.

We finished up school and moved back to where we began. We had two more girls and a surprise baby boy for our perfect caboose!

Why did you choose retail?

This one is easy. I have always loved clothes, but my style is actually pretty simple and very laidback. Give me a white tee and some good jeans, or leggings, and a sweater and I’m happy.

Because of my faith and having four daughters, I do not want my girls to think that our bodies are ornaments.

I want them to know they are instruments and they can do and be whatever they want. I try to dress somewhat modest (that doesn’t mean I don’t wear bikinis sometimes) because I think it’s important that they know their value as a human being and not just as a body. I feel like the world sometimes devalues women - and we fall for it.

Anyway, I couldn't ever find modest clothing that was my style. A couple weeks after I got married, I told my husband, “one day I’m going to open a little store that has clothes that real women want to wear”.

It was 12-years later, but I finally did it! [CONGRATS, Kristy!]

You mentioned you've got some little ones roaming around your world. What's it like being a business owner and a full-time mom? How do you balance it all?

In all honesty, I don’t. It might be one of the best things I’ve learned through this process. Balance, to me, doesn’t mean evenly distributing my time to all the things that I want/need to do.

A few years ago, I wrote down the five things I valued most. in order, and those are the things I focus on. We obviously have to do other things, like grocery shopping, which is not on my list, but I still do it. The things on my list get most of my time, planning and thoughts.

I used to be the mom that had three little girls, who all had their hair done perfect and I stressed over play dates and cleaning schedules. I laugh now at how I was unintentionally trying to be perfect. My children will be better off seeing their mother out there doing something that takes courage.

A few things I’ve learned: family comes first, always, and it makes for better adults when children learn how to do things for themselves. They are more confident and more appreciative; not to mention, it is my job to teach them how to live without me.

What do you find most difficult about being a woman in business?

You know, I don't really see that as an issue. Most of the time I feel grateful. Sometimes I feel judged. Sometimes I feel insecure, but I guess that’s just being a woman in anything. 

What parts of your business are most fun for you? What brings you the most joy?

The best part of my job is being in the store helping people and talking to them about their lives, but my favorite thing is the buying. I love finding new brands and supporting small and local businesses whenever I can. I love putting outfits together in my head for photoshoots.

My number one, absolute favorite thing is being out somewhere in town, like dinner, the movies, Target, etc. and seeing someone in our clothes. I love seeing how people are wearing our and styling our products, and that they fit into their lives.

People love to talk about "how you'll fail before you succeed", but we rarely SEE the failures. What types of obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are now? Did you ever feel like giving up?

Oh girl, the failures...

I am positive I have failed more than I even know. In this business venture, we got lucky in the beginning and were super busy from day one. However, when we were about four years in, there was a major shift from brick and mortar to everyone shopping online. It was one of the most stressful times in my life. We launched our online side of the store and slowly picked back up again.

Failures teach us lessons we don’t forget though. One year, I had trained so hard for a marathon - up at 4am, doing all the long runs (and doing them pretty well), cross-training and even biking to work to try to use the muscles that would surely help when my body wanted to break down.

Race day came and I felt good, no problems... until mile fifteen when I started to feel myself bonk. I was throwing up every couple of miles. At mile twenty, I felt absolutely delusional and I don’t even know how, but I jogged across the finish line feeling like death. After that, I made a commitment to myself that I would figure out what went wrong - so I got a coach. After running with me and watching my heart rate, he told me that I metabolize too fast when I run. The solution? I needed to eat double what most runners consume during a race.

The very next year, I was back at that starting line feeling even more prepared (knowledge is power).

I cried literal tears when I sprinted across the finish line shaving over 45-minutes off of my previous time.

My legs were done and I could barely walk for a week, but my heart was on cloud nine. It takes work and a willingness to learn. It takes being okay with having to say, "okay, I did that wrong now let’s go fix it".

What does your day-to-day look like?

I wake up at 6am and get ready for the gym, get the three oldest kids going (mostly my special girl needs help), breakfast and they are out the door. Then, I wake up the littles and do their morning routine - get them both ready and fed and out the door. (Did I mention that somehow we timed it so all five of my kids are in different schools, which means all different schedules.) My little man comes with me and we are finally headed to workout.

I run, do a spin class, Pilates, or lift a little for about an hour. Run errands, then head home to get housework done. I work at the shop two days a week and on the other days, I work from home. Once my kids start getting home, it’s extra curricular craziness: piano, soccer, cheer, dance, gymnastics, and more! I try to start dinner in there somewhere, but sometimes we end up grabbing something if it’s been extra busy.

By 8pm, I am pooped and done for the day! We usually sit down and watch The Voice or Big Brother and then it's prayers and bed time. My husband, Matt, works four days a week so we get quite a bit of time together and we enjoy a lot of the same things. I wish it was more exciting, but that is my life in a nut shell.

I love it and there is no where else I'd want to be. My sweet kids, saying 'thank you' for everything and kissing us goodnight, plus the best guy to hold my hand on the couch and in the car. I feel so blessed.

What types of things do you do when you're not running Blue Linen Boutique? Anything fun with the family? Outdoor activities or favorite family rituals?

We love being active. Matt and I mountain bike together, we have each run a few marathons, and a few more half-marathons. We love watching our kids play soccer and dance. As a family, we do almost everything together. We love to travel to Laguna Beach and Hawaii. We spend about 3-4 weeks of our summers at Lake Powell, which we have been doing for at least eight years.

I also love to read! Learning new things is powerful to me. 

When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

This is another one that is super easy for me. As long as I can remember, all I wanted to be was a mother. I have always been very maternal, taking care of people, loving the littles and teaching them all I can.

I was so scared to answer this honestly when my husband asked me this question on our first date. I thought he would think I was crazy, or not motivated, or that I wanted to push for that too fast. He didn’t think any of those things, in fact, he said it made him love me more! To this day, being a mother is still at the very top of my "list of five", which I told you about earlier. My family takes priority over everything else. Being a mom for sixteen years now, I know that being an intentional mother is my greatest joy.

What advice do you have for girls, or women, out there who are trying to start their own businesses or enter the life of entrepreneurship?

No matter what it is in life that you want to do, you should go for it! If there is a will there is a way! Don’t let anyone else tell you 'no' when it comes to a business venture or a passion. I think people should dream big and be awesome. I would tell all the girls my favorite quote:

“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be FREE.” - Kavita Ramdas

You can visit Kristy and Blue Linen Boutique if you're ever in the Saint George area, or any time online. And of course, you can always follow along on Instagram.

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