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Big Impact: Ashlie Hadden

Oct 3 2011 8:00 AM
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Starting a retail business in downtown Lincoln is nothing new. What’s often missing is having the vision to utilize a business and marketing strategy to succeed. Ashlie Hadden, a marketing graduate from the UNL College of Business class of 2009, is hoping her foresight and planning will make all the difference in opening Embellish, a new downtown boutique at the corner of 13th and P Street.

“The marketing program at UNL provided a really good foundation for making business decisions,” Hadden said. “I gained a lot of my day to day knowledge of how to do the small stuff through the experience of doing projects, writing business and marketing plans, doing case studies and learning to think critically about business in terms of planning for the future.”

Hadden, who is originally from Bridgeport, started out as an interior design major at UNL but switched to marketing to hone her business skills. She retained a minor in textiles and clothing and design to maintain some of her creative drive.

“I wanted to have a foundation in business. Without my background at UNL, I wouldn’t have known to start with a business plan or how to manage finances to make it work.”

One of the classes Hadden took at UNL was Retail Management. Rob Simon, assistant professor of practice, taught the class noted Hadden’s overall motivation to succeed.

“She worked on a group research project studying retailing in downtown Lincoln in 2008, and comparing it to other college towns such as Lawrence, Kan. and Madison, Wis.  The group developed a plan for what a retail store should do to be successful in downtown Lincoln.  Their plan was the top project in the class and was voted the best project by the Downtown Lincoln Association, a downtown Lincoln business owners association that semester.” 

Analyzing current business trends in Lincoln also played a part in Hadden’s planning.

“I chose to locate downtown because of all the development that’s happening here right now. I think Lincoln is really rallying around the idea of reviving the downtown area and with the arena project and things going on like innovation campus -- I think it’s pretty exciting.”

Another dynamic of the downtown area has been the synergism between the local businesses.

“One surprising thing for me has been how friendly and encouraging the other downtown businesses have been. Things like everybody referring people to each other has been a surprise because in some ways we’re in competition with each other but in a lot of ways we build each other up.”

Hadden has also done a small part in helping local employment statistics not only by being a self employed worker herself but also by hiring several part time college students that work collectively a total of about 25 hours per week.

The biggest part of running the business did not come as a surprise to Hadden. That was the amount of time and effort that would be required to make it work.

“My mom has been in business with her sister for ten years, so I kind of understand how it affects your life and how many hours it really takes and the pride you have to have in your business. I guess the most stressful part is always dealing with the finances, because it’s my money and livelihood but I expected that.”

Even though Embellish has only been open a short time, Hadden has already experienced a gratifying side of running the business.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my job as a business owner is when someone comes in and says my friend was here and it’s her new favorite store and she got this really great thing. To have that validation from a customer rather than a fellow business person is really cool.”

The store concept for Embellish is to provide customers with anything they need whether it’s for the home, for a gift or clothing for any occasion. 

“No matter what you’re looking for whether it’s for yourself or for somebody else, you should be able to find something that you like.”