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Meet Hillary Unruh of Hill & Hazel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hillary Unruh.

Hi Hillary, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My name is Hillary Unruh and I am the owner of Hill & Hazel. Hill & Hazel first opened for business in October 2019. It was started by me and my husband, Tate Unruh. I have always enjoyed fashion, styling, and helping women with their own style. I went to the University of Arkansas and received a degree in Apparel Studies; I blogged for a few years about everyday life and style and starting a boutique used to be a dream I had. The timing seemed right to start an online boutique, so we went for it. My husband and I had no previous knowledge on starting a boutique; I had no professional help or direction; I just had a lot of determination and aspiration and decided to make it work. There was a TON of research, a lot of figuring it out as we went, a lot of fails and a lot of wins those first couple months.

We launched on October 28, 2019, and we had about 60 sales that first night. We were so excited. We actually operated hill & hazel out of our home for the first year of business. My dream was to get in a warehouse/office space, but we wanted to keep cost as low as possible for as long as we could. That first year was a grind! For the most part of the year, it was just my husband and I. We packed all the orders late at night in our living room! I did all the buying, social media, modeling, packing orders and inventory. Tate took the pictures, packed orders, and did inventory as well. Some months were great; some weren’t so great. Some days I thought about throwing in the towel because the work and time spent didn’t seem to outweigh the sales. But I trusted the passion and fire I had for this business, specifically that God had put on my heart, and I continued on. Almost two years in, we are now operating in a warehouse, my sister Sydney works with me full time, we have models who I adore, and our business has started gaining traction. I am purchasing way more inventory, we have more pieces launching each Monday night, and we’ve gained the most amazing and loyal customers! It’s crazy to look back to where we started and where we are now.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Not at all. But what small business comes without struggles and a few bumps along the way? I knew it would be a lot of work going into it, and I was determined from the beginning to make this work, regardless of the curveballs thrown. The business side of things was definitely a struggle. Figuring out permits, licenses, taxes, etc. Everything was self-taught, and those things are NOT my favorite, so that was a lot to figure out.

Work/life balance was difficult for the first year of business. Since it was operated out of my home, and my husband and I worked together, there was very little balance of work and life. I worked all the time. I was a wife of two years, a new mom, and now a new business owner. My business was doing well but I was trying to balance a lot on my own. There wasn’t a clear line between my work and my life and that obviously put a lot of weight on me and my family. My husband has always been the biggest cheerleader of me and my dreams, so we worked together to make it more healthy for us.

As you know, we’re big fans of Hill & Hazel. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
We are on an online women’s boutique. We launch new arrivals every Monday night. We hold pop-up shops for our local girls about twice a year. We have affordable, stylish pieces for the everyday girl. We carry clothes, shoes, and accessories. My desire is for women to walk away from hill & hazel feeling empowered, beautiful, confident, loved, and happy. Whether that is from an interaction with our customer service, chatting on Instagram, or buying and wearing our clothing.

I work hard to make our business feel personal, that people feel like they know us and view us as some of their girlfriends. I want hill & hazel to make women’s lives easier. We do try on videos; we have models with all different body shapes to help with sizing and fit questions, hoping to make online shopping easier and less stressful. We have pieces that are great staples to have in your wardrobe year-round, we have fun, trendy pieces, and we have pieces that just make you feel confident. We try to take the stress out of shopping and putting together outfits. I am also super proud of our quick shipping! That’s very important to me.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
My work ethic. Starting a business is not always glamorous and pretty! There is a lot of long nights and long hours, sometimes without having sales to show for it. There are roadblocks along the way and mountains that seem too daunting to climb, but I continue to put one foot in front of the other and work really hard to make hill & hazel successful. I have sacrificed a lot to get to hill & hazel, where it is, and I am super proud of the work I have put in and continue to put in! Failure and quitting is just never an option for me!

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