Creating a lifestyle brand
Young entrepreneur launches ecommerce shop

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

 May 22, 2015

Katelyn Kosinski looks over some of the items she hasn't yet put on her website, Woodbury Lane. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

MUSKEGO - Katelyn Kosinski’s home office for her ecommerce apparel and accessories business reflects her design aesthetic - minimalist, neutral-toned and professional.

At just 23 years old, Kosinski regularly buys merchandise, sells and markets it through her online store Woodbury Lane. While she started with a soft opening during the holiday shopping season, she didn’t fully launch it until three months ago, but things are already going well for the Muskego High School graduate.

As Kosinski was nearing graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in psychology, she became concerned about the next steps to success. After discussing her worries with her father who own an insurance company, Kosinski said he offered to eventually let her take over the business. With time, she realized that her true passion was in retail. She used money she had saved to launch the business.

“I wanted to be running something that’s my own,” she said.

For four years, Kosinski worked at the Gap and wrote on her style blog for two years.

By blogging about fashion, Kosinski said she got to meet a lot of other bloggers who then were able to help answer questions with how to get started and about acquiring such crucial things as a seller’s permit and a tax identification number.

Woodbury Lane clothing and accessories hang in Katelyn Kosinski's office where she runs her online store. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

When in July 2014 Kosinski got her LLC formed, she immediately started to market Woodbury Lane on Facebook  and blogs. She also turned to Google and YouTube to learn more about running a business.

“One person running a business like this is becoming more common,” she said.

It was important for her to create a polished-looking website, using a professional photographer and models.

So far, Kosinski said, she has been buying her merchandise from a show in Chicago, but she hopes to go soon to a larger one in Las Vegas. When she buys goods, she tends to purchase a package of six at a time and can always reorder if something sells really well, which can happen at the “pop-up shops” she does.

In the past few months, Kosinski has set up a temporary shop at Beauty in Bloom at the Milwaukee Art Museum and at the Milwaukee Block Party on Water Street, which she’ll do again this summer.

Katelyn Kosinski talks about starting Woodbury Lane, her online store focusing on clothing and accessories. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Kosinski said she recommends doing the soft launch for any business because it allowed her to learn what she was doing right and what could use improvement. She was also able to build her email list for when she launched the full site. The bloggers she knew helped to promote Woodbury Lane as well.

“Sales haven’t been as steady as they were in the beginning, but I am learning new marketing things every day,” Kosinski said.

Her vision for the business is to grow it in scope and she would like to start bringing in more jewelry created by local artists. In addition, she said someday she’d like to have a regular shop.

“No matter what, I want to make it a lifestyle brand,” she said.

One thing she learned through launching her own business is just how hard she has to work for each sale.

“I really, really have to work for each sale I get,” Kosinski said. “It’s more fulfilling that way. I’m more excited to make that sale.”

She advises any future entrepreneurs to start their online presence as soon as they can, including engaging social media, buying a domain name and writing blog posts.