Niles boutique finding success in digital age

Published 12:41 pm Friday, December 22, 2023

NILES — Tiffany Watson, owner of Dani Morgans Boutique in downtown Niles, has been proving that brick and mortar retail can continue on in the internet age with new ideas, a unique product and plentiful online efforts. 

Visitors to the shop and online customers from around the world are now greeted by a wide selection of Western Punchy products, some curated and others designed by Watson herself.

Though the storefront opened at its location at 111 East Main Street in May of 2023, Watson has been selling her products online since 2022. She stepped into the physical world, bringing her products to pop-up shops and vendor events. Her first effort included just a few tables at a flea market, quite different from the full store and packed warehouse she now operates.

“That was just my start,” she said. “Doing those pop-ups helped me get my feet on the ground.”

She was initially reluctant to open a storefront, but continued encouragement led her to commit to it if “the right thing came up”. 

The right thing appeared quicker than expected, with relationships she had built in the pop-up world pointing her at the downtown building. When she saw the brick work and the ceiling, she knew she had found the physical home for her business. With the help of her husband, who also works as her shipping manager, and her brother, who works as her warehouse manager, she was able to spend long days and nights creating her vision.

“I’m so thankful for their help,” she said of the family’s efforts. “A lot of blood sweat and tears went into it.”

Prior to running her business, Watson worked as a restaurant manager, but was seeking employment with work hours that balanced better with her family life. Originally from the area, she had recently moved back from Texas and started to consider that both self-employment and, particularly, online sales, would provide the lifestyle she sought.

She also recognized an opportunity in products that interested her personally. After nearly twelve years in Texas, she was familiar with product themes often unavailable to customers in the Midwest. Though the styles at Dani Morgan are considered niche, she has found that customers here and around the country love the variety she offers. Though her core audience tends to be young adults and mothers raising families, she works to keep a range of products and prices to have options for everyone.

Watson had a reasonable amount of success from the start, but it was her entrance into the social media world that catapulted her business to its current level, serving customers in person in Niles and as far as Australia with her online presence. Her online sales have grown so much that she stepped away from pop-up events.

“Getting my start on TikTok is what really changed the game for me,” she said.

Watson approaches her online efforts as important a part of the business as any other. Recognizing that almost everyone is on at least one social media platform, she focuses on being consistent, creating content that shows her audience both her products and who she is as a person. She creates quality images and videos that show great detail, setting her apart from much of the content online. It has paid off, with her work having gone viral multiple times. Her online presence has also drawn customers to the physical store, coming as far as southern Indiana or northern Michigan. According to Watson, the online world built her business and she encourages other entrepreneurs to take advantage of it.

“We have so many tools online now that are not being utilized,” she said.

With a growing online customer base, a growing product line, and two new employees helping create a fun in-person customer experience, Watson has shown that retail is here to stay.

For more information on Dani Morgans Boutique, visit danimorgans.com.