I am Tulsa - Sara Bost
A partnership between TulsaPeople and Tulsa's Young Professionals.
Just as the newest designer collections finished taking center stage for New York Fashion Week, one Tulsan spent hours surrounded by the latest designs for fall fashion at New York City’s Coterie market show.
Sara Bost, owner of Flirt boutique in Utica Square, shopped through 1,200 exhibitors’ booths filled with apparel and accessories for three days as she searched for the latest fall trends that would please her customers. Despite the 14,000 attendees and extraordinary amount of retail, she knew exactly what to buy because she knows her customers; or as Bost says, she knows her friends.
“Many of my customers have been coming in since Flirt opened three and a half years ago,” says Bost. “Some of my favorite people in Tulsa I have met from them walking into the store as a customer.”
A native Tulsan who travels to market twice a year, Bost says when she buys for Flirt, she buys with a customer in mind.
“For example, I have learned what colors my customers like,” she says. “Colors I may have chosen in the beginning I now know not to go near.”
Bost opened Flirt a few years after she graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in strategic communications. Soon after she moved back to Tulsa, Bost switched from a writing career to a “string of odd jobs” she says. Working at Gilcrease Museum’s gift shop, the showroom of an antique store and finally a dog retail store, she decided she wanted to open her own boutique.
“I saw how the buyers ordered product, and even though they were ordering for different purposes, I saw the process,” she says. “I also learned customer service. I really became inspired to open the store while working at The Barkery. It was locally owned and was similar in size to what I had envisioned for my store. The owner unknowingly convinced me that it was possible.”
Scouting locations on 15th Street, Brookside and south Tulsa, Bost turned to Utica Square as the home for her retail vision.
“When out-of-towners come to Tulsa, they come here (Utica Square) because there’s a variety of stores,” says Bost. “I also chose this location for the charm of outdoor shopping, the restaurants and the walking traffic.”
Once she located the perfect space at 2048 Utica Square, Bost says she struggled to find the perfect name for her unique shop until she was reminded of a trip her parents took to Rome one fall. While visiting, her parents took a picture of two shops next to each; one named Sarah and one named Flirt. So, her father suggested Flirt as the name of Bost’s new shop.
“Those close to me have always said that I have no problems talking to people,” she says. “I am an outgoing person, and sometimes that has been misconstrued. My dad thought it was humorous.”
Bost also chose Flirt because “the name is younger and suggestive to what it is.”
She says from the beginning, she wanted her boutique to sell merchandise that Tulsans couldn’t find anywhere else in the city. Although she carries a few local jewelry and stationery lines, Bost keeps her shop fresh with retail by designers and brands like Ella Moss, Splendid, William Rast and Rebecca Beeson.
“I also recently started carrying European lines,” she says. “They’re represented in New York as well.”
When Bost isn’t at Flirt, where she’s often found six days a week during store hours, her work doesn’t stop. She spends her time researching advertising ideas and researching new lines.
“I’m always looking for new ways to improve,” she says.
Besides working, Bost also enjoys eating at local restaurants, serving on the board of the Utica Square merchants and chairing a committee with the Tulsa Zoo’s Waltz on the Wild Side event.
A member with Tulsa’s Young Professionals (TYPros) since 2006, she says the organization “is a great way to network and spring ideas off of people” and that “everyone in TYPros is enthusiastic about promoting Tulsa and business.”
Being part of an organization like TYPros introduces her to fellow business owners and entrepreneurs, says Bost.
“It is a great way to get ideas and advice for the betterment of my business and Tulsa as a whole.”
While Bost doesn’t plan to expand her store, she notes her customers are the reason for her shop’s success.
“Customers know that I will not sell them something just to be selling,” she says. “I don't want anyone to walk out of the shop with an item that doesn't truly fit and look terrific. They can call and ask if I have something for a specific purpose and know that I will answer honestly. Because my customers can trust me, I have built client loyalty.
“My best advertisement is a customer who is wearing a Flirt purchase and feels good about her appearance. I appreciate each customer and I hope that sentiment comes across.”
For more information about Flirt, visit www.flirttulsa.com or call 747-6565.