By all appearances, this blond is genius, but it was actually a series of failures coupled with steel tenacity that led Erin Eischeid, owner of Blond Genius, to launch the wildly successful clothing boutique in 2005 on her 25th birthday.
“Ignorance is bliss,” she laughs. “I had no idea what I know now.”
“Erin exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of our locally owned and operated businesses in The District at Prairie Trail,” says Ashley Johnson, marketing director of DRA Properties, which operates The District where Erin opened a Blond Genius in 2015. “She’s earned an incredibly loyal and faithful base of clients.”
In addition to the Blond Genius boutique in The District at Prairie Trail in Ankeny, Erin has shops in West Des Moines, Okoboji and Bloomington, Indiana. She also has a 36-foot mobile boutique use for special events. But it wasn’t an easy journey to get to this place of success.
Having graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in three years, Erin landed a job in human resources at the corporate headquarters of Land’s End in Wisconsin, where she handled internal communications and speech writing for the organization’s CEO. But it was the fashion side of the business that really spoke to her, and over the course of the following three years she interviewed repeatedly — and unsuccessfully — for a role on the other side of the aisle.
Still, Erin was having an impact at Land’s End, earning a significant internal award in recognition of her efforts that ultimately saved the company million of dollars. When she was sent via company jet to accept the award with the CEO and the company’s senior vice presidents, she felt confident that her big chance had arrived. And in fact, the CEO did ask Erin what she really wanted to do, and took note. “I got another interview for an entry-level position in merchandising, and I thought, ‘I’m totally going to get this job this time,” she remembers. “I was so excited.”
After another rigorous round of interviews, excitement turned to disappointment when Erin was notified that the coveted position was not going to be filled. Instead, she was offered a summer internship in merchandising. “I was heartbroken but I decided absolutely, I could learn something and take something away from the experience,” she said. “I also decided they weren’t taking me seriously, so I probably needed to get an MBA.”
A Pivotal Turning Point
It was this decision that would lead to a turning point for Erin. After applying to several grad schools and not being accepted, she had had enough.
“I was tired of trying to prove myself to everyone else,” she said. “I believed in my vision and myself, so I decided to come back to Des Moines and look at some retail options. I met with the owners of a building in West Des Moines, and they loved my story and my ideas. It was such a sign after what felt like so much rejection. Just pushing forward and finding that one person who would say ‘yes’ completely changed my life.”
Today, Blond Genius is known for its fabulous denim bar, with 150 styles of jeans for women and over 50 styles for men from iconic brands like Citizens for Humanity, Henry & Belle, and Mother Denim. Denim-fit experts help customers choose a style most complimentary to one’s figure and provide custom alterations to personalize the fit. The boutique also carries tops, sweaters, jackets and coats, and dresses, stunning pieces of apparel along the lines of a little black velvet dress, spotted leopard faux fur coat and the like. Also in the mix…accessories, like bags, belts, fragrances, jewelry…even “pre-loved” luxury handbags. And shoes and boots to die for…like Rag & Bone’s Beha Stretch Boot in a smashing Biking Red. The exquisite collection is culled from shows in New York and LA that Erin attends a couple times a year.
“I have a passion for helping women feel their best,” says Erin. “And I am so incredibly thankful, when I think that just one person believed in me and that it changed everything. The opportunities that have been given to me…it is crazy and humbling.
“My big takeaway is to always keep believing in yourself and your ideas. Keep pushing forward and keep searching for people who will believe in you…and they will come.”