Entrepreneur Turns Passion For Fashion Into Clothing Boutique

By Eloísa Ruano González
The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Mercedes Hernandez’s California boutique “Bow N Arrow” features bohemian-style clothing. The store attracts students on the hunt for trendy but affordable fashion.

The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Sneaking into her mother’s closet, Mercedes Hernandez couldn’t resist trying on her blue satin jacket. Though the fourth-grader was far too small for it, she loved wearing it to school anyway.

Her passion for fashion had emerged.

A little over a decade later, that love has flourished into her own business. Hernandez, who had done modeling as a child and worked in retail while in high school, last summer opened Bow N Arrow, a bohemian-style clothing store across the plaza in downtown Cotati.

Today, the shop is a lively spot, frequented by students on the hunt for trendy but affordable fashion.

“I got really lucky with the location,” she said, noting its proximity to Sonoma State University about 2 miles away. She tries to keep prices low for students, many of whom are about her age.

“It’s crazy, especially when I hear people talk about the store,” said Hernandez, now 22. “I didn’t picture myself being able to do this. I thought it was so unrealistic because of my age.”

Unlike generations before her, who started in retail shops and later opened a website, Hernandez first launched the business online when she was just 19. She was waitressing at the time at a burger joint in Santa Rosa, saving her tips in hopes of one day opening a brick-and-mortar store.

Sales online were booming. Hernandez, who received a business entrepreneur certificate from Santa Rosa Junior College, spent most of her spare time filling orders and stocking up on inventory. But she wanted to interact face-to-face with customers.

“I wasn’t satisfied with selling online. I love the in-person connection (and) styling customers,” Hernandez said one afternoon at her store, which she was able to open with her savings and a microloan.

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