Cover Story: Emily Vollmar

Be More

What is your life purpose? 

To always be learning and evolving through relationships, experiences, and self-exploration. To show kindness, love, and support to those around me.

Personal Mission Statement- 

Having turned 40 this year, I feel like I’ve entered a new ‘season’ in my life. I’ve had many women share with me that their 40’s were some of their favorite years and I am absolutely feeling that already! I’m lucky enough to have gone through some fire and have emerged with a strong understanding of myself. My 40-year-old self’s mission statement is to unapologetically be true to myself and to live a balanced life of family, work, and self. 

What drives you? 

I am driven to be a part of the revitalization of Downtown Sioux City. I believe that Sioux City is ready to support and enjoy a downtown community that offers retail, entertainment, dining, and arts. There are so many great businesses downtown already offering these things, but to compete with the bigger markets of Sioux Falls and Omaha, we need more! 

What have been the most valuable lessons you have learned?

In my early 30’s, I was at a yoga class in which the instructor guided us to lay on our backs on the floor and sprawl our limbs out wide. She told us that we have the right to take up space in the world. Just as much as anyone else. This includes both physical space, your personal boundaries and home, and mental space in the world, your opinions and emotions. I had spent much of my 20s being told to be small, quiet, have less of an opinion, to be less emotional- it was liberating to consider taking up space!

I recently attended a John Maxwell training that suggested using LOVE as a business strategy. How interesting! Showing love to your customers through providing a good experience for them and treating them with kindness and respect. Leading your staff with love, promoting their growth, providing a positive work environment, considering how their job fits into their personal lives, and encouraging them to do more of the things they LOVE to do at work. And finally, do your customers ‘Like’ your business or do they ‘LOVE’ it and determine how you take their emotions from like to love because LOVE not only brings them back into your business but will most likely provoke them to tell others about it!

What are your non-negotiables? 

Associating with positive people at work and in personal life. I want to spend my time with people who are in line with what I want for my own life and preferably people who I can learn and grow from being around. Maintaining my physical and mental health through exercise, yoga, breathwork, and therapy. 

Lifelong learning by continuous education, self-development, and personal growth. 

How do you decompress or unwind? 

I’ve always decompressed with physical activity; walking, hiking, and running. Being in and around nature always grounds me and reminds me that the world is huge, beautiful, and diverse, which is the best way for me to put my stressors into perspective. I love running because I am in complete control of that time. How fast I go, how far I go, how hard I want to be pushed.  A new pastime that I’ve discovered this year that helps me ‘turn off’ is watching the NFL, which I never saw coming!

Where do you find joy? 

I find joy in being a mom. James and I have 2 daughters, Stella (14) and Amelia (10). They are very active, and we are always running them places. I love watching them learn and grow. They are each very social and have friends around us most of the time. Our house is always swarming with kids, and we love it. We seem to always travel with a girl squad! We are always jam packing our life with time at the lake, trips, concerts, and new experiences.

I find joy in LIVE MUSIC. I am a singer songwriter kind of girl first. Loving poetic lyrics and thus of course am a Taylor Swift fan through and through. I got to attend her tour this summer with my family, and it was everything! I’ve also recently attended the Lumineers, the Chicks, and Ed Sheeran in big venues but find equal enjoyment in local Sioux City venues. Listening to bluegrass and jazz at Vangarde Arts, rap at The Marquee, and concerts performed by the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theater. Live Music = Life to me. 

Do More

Tell us about your business.

Rooted Boutique is a women’s and men’s clothing boutique located in Downtown Sioux City, IA. Rooted started in Holstein, IA in my attic, then moved to a mobile boutique for a year in which we did pop-up shops around Iowa in, then a brick and mortar store in 2018 on Main St. in Holstein. Rooted Sioux City was then opened in July 2022.  

We carry an upscale and dressy collection of men’s and women’s clothing. Some of the most popular women’s clothing brands are Joseph Ribkoff, Nic+Zoe, Pistola, Joe’s Jeans, and footwear lines, Dolce Vita and Sam Edelman. The Rooted customer ranges in age from their 20s and beyond. Because there are not a lot of shopping options in the area, we try to have something for everyone. I like to say we are the ‘Von Maur’ of Northwest Iowa. Our menswear was a new addition when we opened the Sioux City location. Karlton’s Men’s Clothiers had just closed its doors and we decided to try to meet the need for the men in Siouxland, carrying brands like 7 Diamonds, Mizzen+Main, and Liverpool, and Tommy Bahama.

Our Rooted space has a big city feel to it but with a small town charm. Clothes are the star of the space. I keep inventory fresh and always changing so no one ever walks in and feels like they’ve already seen everything. This does result in a great sales rack! We love collaborating with other businesses for in-store events! We’ve worked with florists, coffee bars, children’s clothing stores, aesthetics businesses, and jewelers to provide a platform for others as well as offer our client base more diverse retail options downtown.

Our biggest event of the season is always our annual Holiday Fashion Show. This event is a HUGE undertaking for my small staff and I to plan and manage. But many people help make it possible, from volunteer models to sponsors. It’s a risky endeavor for us as the cost is very high and every year we are threatened with weather, people’s busy schedules, and other community and sports events. Plus the added stressors of preparing the store for the holiday season, managing all the new inventory that comes in fast and furious at that time, and marketing and selling tickets. 

Ultimately, we love giving people a reason to get dressed up and have a fun night downtown. It’s been fun to see the diversity of the crowd change through the years to include more men. After the show we host an after party in the store with food, holiday drinks, and music. Although nothing ever goes 100% as planned, we can accept it because ultimately people enjoy themselves and appreciate the experience. It brings people together and is a fun way to kick off the Holiday Season! I have met so many people and formed long-lasting personal and business relationships as a result of this event. 

What’s the meaning behind the business name? 

Rooted Boutique was named with the idea that what clothing we choose to wear on the outside can help us express who we are on the inside, at the root of ourselves. Whether it be for a job interview, a family photo shoot, or an important event, our clothing can be inspiring, confidence building, and a reflection of our unique personalities. 

What sets your business apart from the rest? 

We take our relationships with our customers very seriously. We strive to know our clients on a personal level.  People come in need of clothing for all seasons of life, milestones like graduations and job interviews, happy events like weddings and vacations, and hard times like funerals. We want to provide a safe and inviting space for ‘our people’ to come in and know we’ve got them. Shopping for clothes can be a sensitive experience for some and we try to feel our guests out to see how much help and advice they want and meet them there. We often have clients come in saying they just need a little ‘Rooted time’. We love that and are happy to catch up, offer a beverage, and give them a break from the hectic world out there. We want our clients to feel like they are coming over to a friend’s house to shop their closet. 

What makes you the most proud? 

Seeing something created from nothing as A TEAM! Rooted Boutique, the brand, the experience, the product, is the result of yes, my original vision and every day’s work thereafter, but I have an incredible team, many of whom have been with Rooted since the beginning. Each has put their own personal touch on the brand and her path through their individual gifts, personalities, styles, opinions, and relationships with our customers. Each person on our team has strengths and I encourage them to run wild with them!

Let’s talk customer service…what’s the client experience? 

We are OBSESSED with customer service at Rooted Boutique, dedicated to providing a great customer experience from start to finish. From the moment a client arrives, we want them to feel that appreciation. We strive to greet everyone with eye contact and a hello as well as the pleasant scent of our signature Rooted aroma being diffused. We play relaxing music, often offer a beverage and invite our guests to make themselves at home and utilize one of our comfortable seating areas. We listen to our customer’s needs and try to pull items that fit their lifestyle and preferences and then give honest feedback, when asked, which ultimately results in forming trusting relationships. When there is trust in our product and styling, we find that people are more likely to become repeat customers, and repeat, quality over quantity clients are what keeps us in business. 

How do you approach obstacles or setbacks? 

We have made many mistakes at Rooted from the wrong product to events being held on the wrong dates, to marketing and advertising flops. Those setbacks have had immediate monetary costs of course, but learning what doesn’t work helps us to ultimately continue to better ourselves and identify what DOES WORK. 

This past summer, we experienced our biggest obstacle which was a road construction project in front of our business that took away our customer parking and sidewalk access for months. We changed our advertising, our promotions, and our buying as much as we could to accommodate our ‘different’ business for that time. One of my weaknesses is asking for help. It took me a little longer than it should have, but once I did, I realized that it’s ok to not have it together all the time. People want us to be here and are willing to do what they can to help. It is just our third year in Siouxland and the response from the community when we were struggling made me even more committed to staying in business in Sioux City for a long time. Getting through that tough time opened my eyes even wider to the volatility of a small business and how important it is to constantly make the effort to support local businesses more fiercely than ever.

What have been the most valuable lessons you have learned in running your own business?

I grew up with small business owner parents and thus saw the hard work and time commitment that owning a small business took, so I was prepared for that, luckily. I also saw their LOVE for what they did, their love for how they spent their days and for their customers, and I knew that I HAD to have that in my life! When business isn’t great, I do find myself wavering a bit and thinking that I really should have a job with a steady/consistent income and stability, but then things turn around. That high of seeing something you created succeed is such a sweet and fulfilling feeling that I crave and honestly don’t know how to live without at this point. I remember I’m right where I should be. It’s so motivating knowing that what you put into your days, your time, is what you’re going to get out of it.  

Advice for others starting out in business?

It is important to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses. We can’t be the best at everything. Focus your time on what you do best and bring in help where you’re weak. Personally, I am terrible at accounting and the office work side of the business, so I have a great accountant partner that I work with who keeps us on track. There is a cost in that, but it’s worth freeing up my time to utilize what comes naturally to me, working with customers and buying. 

Social media is so important in today’s world. The more you can communicate with your customer base, telling the story of your brand, what’s going on in your business, the more you will stay top of mind with your clients. 

Be the face of your brand. People need to see you. See you physically in the business, see you in your marketing, see you in the community. I am not just ‘Emily’ anymore, I am Emily, owner of Rooted Boutique, everywhere I go now. Which was weird at first, but now I embrace it and use all opportunities to invite people in.

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