Dayna Mance had the idea in 2013 to start her own store, rich in visuals in a kind of in-real-life Instagram feed before there was even talk of influencers, engagement and algorithms.
Now Mance’s Prism Boutique business includes the business’ original Long Beach shop in addition to a Costa Mesa store that will celebrate a year in business in August, an online store and more than 100,000 followers on Instagram. Last year the business closed at $1.4 million with Mance projecting $1.8 million in sales companywide this year.
She’s now looking ahead at what the business could become with a desire to bring Prism to more of its followers in other states.
While much of last year was spent getting the Costa Mesa store off the ground, the attention this year is focused on the online business and how to scale.
“I want to reach more people,” Mance said. “I love creating an experience for women and want to be in more cities where we can reach new people. I’ve never had any financial help and I realize if I’m going to grow, I’m probably going to need help in some way, so it’s figuring out what’s right for me, the brand and where we want to go.”
Prism caters to trendy shoppers, typically between the ages of 25 and 40, according to Mance. They come to her for not just brands such as Rollas, Levi’s and Free People, but also home decor and gifts inspired by the boutique’s serene setting, aided by the handmade fixtures in both stores from the artists of Lorem.
Prism is collaborating with Lorem on an eight-piece home decor line due out in October that will include items such as plant stands and some art.
Mance started Prism with $15,000 and a résumé that included working at Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, opening the 650-square-foot Long Beach store and closing on $400,000 in sales her first year in business. Long Beach has since expanded twice to accommodate growth, now standing at 2,000 square feet and the company’s largest revenue driver. Costa Mesa is about half that size.
Mance instantly began using Instagram from Prism’s start, doing flat lays of outfits among other imagery in a move she credited with helping get the business off the ground.
“This is before everybody was selling something on Instagram and I was using it as a tool to make the brand look a certain way and clothes look a certain way on girls and laying the product out flat,” she said. “So 2013, 2014, 2015, we grew the bulk of our Instagram following.”
While the algorithm and marketer saturation has since changed the game, Instagram is still a tool used by the business, she added.
Offline, the Prism brand trades off community events in real life, ranging from a recent vintage denim pop-up with Jean Genie to a pop-up in Palm Springs around the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
“I think the biggest change [in retail] has just been the online presence of big retailers and trying to compete with the big online retailers. We just can’t because we’re a small boutique. We’re different and we’re not trying to compete and be a big retailer online,” Mance said.
And even as she continues to see more and more shopping online, she views it as a call to action to focus even more on the brick-and-mortar experience.
“We want it to be more curated and special,” she said. “Over the last six years retail’s definitely harder and harder to sell things full price,” Mance said. “It’s harder to compete. We’re just trying to stay true to who we are because retail has changed so much and we’re never going to be that big box retailer.”