What I Wish I Knew: Lauren Ward shares what she has learned during her years of owning a small business in Akron

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words and photos by Michelle DeShon

After bringing unique fashion to Akron for about eight years, Lauren Ward, owner of NOTO Boutique, will be opening a second location, NOTO North, across from Luigi’s. What could be better than ending a day of shopping at NOTO North with a salad buried under a pile of cheese?

auren Ward sits in front of the large display window at soon-to-be NOTO North, currently Akron Glass Works. (PHOTO: Michelle DeShon / The Devil Strip)
auren Ward sits in front of the large display window at soon-to-be NOTO North, currently Akron Glass Works. (PHOTO: Michelle DeShon / The Devil Strip)

Lauren Ward, Owner

“I wish I would have known that it’s not as easy as people think it is. It’s easier said than done and it really is the day to day grind that people don’t expect,” said Ward. She said that it has taken her eight years to feel confident in running a small business. She said that when she started, she knew nothing about business. She hears young people say that they want to start a fashion line or open a shop and she wants them to know that it is different than what people think. She wishes she knew that in a small city, a business owner needs to gain a following in order to be successful. “This would be easier in a big city,” said Ward.

The new shop will be more masculine than NOTO Boutique’s “bubbly and feminine” style. Ward said that there will be a mix of women’s and men’s clothing, vintage finds, home goods and bath and beauty products. One think Ward has not had a problem with is staying true to her sense of style and bringing that style to her customers.

“Retail is sparse in Akron so it’s cool to be a clothing shop in downtown because there’s not much yet,” said Ward.

 

NOTO Boutique is located at 76 South Main St. in the Shoppes at Akron Centre across from the library. Parking is available on the street and in the Akron Center Parking Deck. Boutique hours are Monday – Friday 10 am – 2pm and Saturday and Sunday by appointment.

NOTO North will be located at 106 North Main St. in Akron directly across from Luigi’s where Akron Glass Works is currently located, which will soon be moving near The University of Akron. The grand opening will be Saturday, August 6 during the Downtown Akron Artwalk.

Lauren Ward can be reached at 1-330-451-NOTO (6686)

Visit NOTO online at NotoBoutique.com and NOTO on Facebook.

 

Michelle DeShon is an aspiring journalist with an unhealthy obsession with antique cameras, french fries and vinyl records.

 

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