SDSU grad starts own boutique

Jordan Smith Editor-in-chief

 SDSU grads have been taking what they learned and applying it to real-world success. Recently, one grad opened a boutique, Jane on Main, in Wagner, SD. 

Jane St. John graduated from SDSU last summer and now owns her own business. She graduated with an apparel merchandising degree and also took entrepreneurial studies classes. 

“Both combined got me thinking about having my own business and what I could do with it,” St. John said. “I had the dream of owning my own store and what it would look like,” St. John said. 

There are a wide range of classes that apparel merchandising students take to prepare them for the workplace, according to Julie Bell, education and human sciences academic adviser. Many classes deal with analyzing trends, fashion promotion, customer service and textiles. It is a business-oriented field of study. 

Students get lots of hands-on experience through their required summer practicum and also a study tour class. This class offers students the opportunity to study in larger cities such a New York and Las Vegas. Students also have the opportunity to study internationally in locations including Italy, Paris and India. 

The apparel merchandising program prepares students for many different jobs, including working in a department store or boutique, being a buyer for a company, marketing, writing and other positions related to management and merchandise. SDSU grads of the apparel merchandising program can find themselves as buyers, personal shoppers, managers in retail stores, or sales representatives. There is also opportunity for students to be representatives of particular brands, or consult for TV series or movies. 

The apparel merchandising program is very hands-on, according to Nancy Lyons, associate professor. 

“Students are offered experience they need to help them gain confidence that they can succeed in the field,” Lyons said. 

One experience students get is the required travel study, because students get exposed to many more cultures and experience known fashion centers across the US and the world, Lyons said. 

After graduating, St. John said she still did not know what she wanted to do. She went to check out Vintage Willows Boutique in Brookings a few times and it was similar to how she wanted her store, plus the owner is also young and a recent SDSU grad. She spoke with Vintage Willows 


 owner Kali Goetz. St. John said it gave her the motivation she needed to open her own store.

“I told Jane that I would recommend she start small, and put all of her profits directly back into her business,” Goetz said. “I also told her to be very thrifty and creative when it came to the interior of her boutique.”

Goetz graduated from SDSU with a degree in consumer affairs. Her decision to open a storefront came from an Etsy shop she created. She needed more space for her items sold on Etsy, and Vintage Willows Boutique was opened. The boutique has been in Brookings for about a year and a half.

“We are very proud of our students,” Bell said. “They are trying new things right away and are able to do them.”

St. John said her mom texted her about an open rental space in hometown that she could rent to open her own store.

“I decided I was totally just going to go for it,” St. John said.

Jane on Main Boutique opened in Wagner, S.D. on Oct. 4, 2013. The products for purchase come from wholesalers based in California. St. John bases inventory on what customers like. She has a wide variety of sizes and a variety of designers and prints on her clothing. 

“About 50 percent of the products in the store are made in LA, which is pretty cool,” St. John said.

Right now, Jane on Main only offers women’s clothing, but St. John is looking to expand to men’s clothing in the future. She carries men’s cologne, but space doesn’t allow for clothing.

Currently, St. John runs the store by herself, and is focusing on her customers and new store now.

“It would be cute to do ‘John on Main,’” St. John said.

While it was a risk opening in such a small town, it was one that paid off. 

By opening a boutique in a small town in South Dakota, there is an opportunity for offering services specific to a community. There are strong family ties and students want to give back to the community they came from, Lyons said. 

“It’s really neat that she has chutzpah to open her own store,” Lyons said.

“I know the need for it here and all the doors were opening for me to do it here so I just took it as a sign and did it,” St. John said.

Jane on Main Boutique can be found on Facebook, and St. John takes orders through there. She plans to start a website for the store this summer.