Women in Business: Robyn Holt

Posted in: Women in Business

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In 2012 Robyn Holt was working a government job when she lost her husband and her father only a day apart. Those events made her take a look at her life and she knew she needed to be around other people more. Robyn decided to open her unique vintage store Belleville called Second Debut. The location wasn't exactly what she was looking for and she knew that her hometown, Downtown Napanee, was an up and coming spot so she moved to 72a Dundas Street East.

Second Debut is a women's pre-loved fashion boutique that is beyond a typical fashion experience. "I never just wanted to have a store where you walk in, buy your products, and walk out. I wanted people to have a lot of fun. That is why I have a lot of nostalgic items in here. I have my entire Beatles collection in here. I have a lot of neat items from the past."

The music rounds out the experience. From Viva Las Vegas to You Never Can Tell and I Will Follow Him, you will hear something you love from the 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s. When I was interviewing Robyn a customer walked in and asked Robyn if she could please follow her playlist on Spotify. This woman comes from out of town and is always impressed by the music that is playing when she walks through the door. Robyn says that people come in and have a little party in the store. "They sing along. They have a great time and they are transported to another world and that was really important to me because it was all about connected to people."

Second Debut carries everything from pre-loved and vintage garments, handbags jewellery and shoes. A portion of all sales goes to support an animal charity of her choice. She switches it up from time to time, but right now the funds are going to support Napanee Community Kitten Rescue. "They are in the most need because there have been a huge amount of kittens born in this area and a lot of money has been needed for that." She has an entire clearance room in the back that is sees 100% of all proceeds go to her charity as well.

As an established business owner Robyn has a unique story and some advice for young entrepreneurs. She had experience with small business, but when she opened Second Debut she had never owned a brick and mortar store. "The biggest challenge for me was that I just jumped in and decided that this was a passion and I was just going to do this." She was very determined and motivated, and that is mandatory, however she does acknowledge that didn't do her homework first. "The other thing is, if you are in the service business like retail for instance, offer suburb, over the top service. That's the one thing online shopping and big box stores can't give you. They can't give you that knowledge of your product and they can't give you that extra service. Someone should come into your store and leave with a smile on their face... that's something we really specialize in here at Second Debut."

Downtown Greater Napanee is fortunate that she calls it home. "I was born and raised her. Napanee is my home town. I feel that it is really growing so much. It has a really big future. It has the coolest vibe of any downtown. It seems to attract businesses with that cool vibe that is different. It's out of the ordinary. People who shop here are cool and the downtown is cool. It's a really fun place. It's a happening place and I wanted to be part of it."