Stephanie Swaim is the Owner of Hoot and Howl located in Morgantown, West Virginia. The shop carries the works of more than 90 artisans – 75 percent of them hail from West Virginia, and all of the products are made in the USA, one Fair Trade and a little vintage. Hoot and Howl host artists almost every month for pop-ups and workshops, are very active in downtown events and try to support the artisan and community in all ways possible.
Hoot and Howl just celebrated their one year anniversary! In that short time, they have won the “Best Place to Shop in Mountaineer Country” from West Virginia Living Magazine in 2018.
Swaim talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about her business, what comes in her shop and her advice to young entrepreneurs.
What’s your 30-second pitch for Hoot and Howl?
“When people walk in the door and they have never been in the shop before the first thing I say is we are an artisan shop. We have a very eclectic mix of goods from people in the area as well as from other places in the United States and there is a little bit of vintage,” said Swaim.
What would our listeners see if they walked into your shop today?
“We have a variety of West Virginia items, so you can get anything from t-shirts, hats, men’s handmade wallets, body products, candles, beautiful jewelry, fun notebooks, planners, furniture and these great vintage Bluetooth radios that have been upcycled. It is an ever-evolving shop because we change things all the time and we get new products almost every day,” explained Swaim.
How many employees do you have?
“It is just me but I do have two friends that help me out during special events and with some merchandising, but employee wise it is just me,” said Swaim.
How do you attract new customers?
“I think in a lot of ways it is a natural process, social media and artisans sharing to their friends. I try to go to a lot of events around town and support the artisans by going to shows and pop-ups,” said Swaim. “If I know somebody is setting up somewhere I am going to stop in and support them. I think just being around and present makes a big difference because people learn who I am and what I do.”
What is the one thing you do every day that contributes to your success?
“Social media–I will usually share what came in that day but I also make sure to respond to people in the comments because that really does mean everything in the world to me and the shop. I think keeping up with social media helps me stay connected with the community of people too.”
Swaim was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to her full podcast here.
PWV QUICK BITS – HOOT & HOWL
- RECOMMENDED BOOK: “I carry a notebook around and make lists that help me to brainstorm what I need and need to do.”
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Instagram and Facebook
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “You are never going to find the right moment to do what you want to do,” advised Swaim.