A Conversation with Die with Your Boots On
Die with Your Boots On is a beloved store in Salem, MA, established in 2018 "to keep Salem’s dark subcultures in clothing as black as their hearts." "We are committed to helping you be your true self expressed through your clothing," reads their website. "No gatekeeping. All bodies are beautiful."
Die with Your Boots on is the first brick-and-mortar store to carry Trued Apparel, and we absolutely love working with them not only for the business perks (10% off for vendors!) but because Amber Newberry, who owns and runs DWYBO with her husband Nick, are such down-to-earth, genuine people.
As part of our ongoing series of conversations on the Trued blog, we recently chatted with Amber about how she and Nick launched and run DWYBO.
Tell us a bit about Die with Your Boots On. What kind of business are you?
We are a small, family-owned gothic and alternative clothing shop located in Salem, MA, and have both a brick-and-mortar shop as well as an online store! We tend to specialize in working with indie, local, and small brands and aim to expand on the available sizing options in gothic clothing styles.
We sell many brands that include up to 3X, and are thrilled when we can find 4X, 5X, 6X, and up! We generally work with customers and staff as models, because we feel it is the best way to give our customers an idea of how a product might look on their bodies.
Tell us a bit about you! What's your background, personal interests, etc?
Personally, I come from a long background in brick-and-mortar retail and marketing in everything from huge corporate companies to tiny, lesser-known family operations. Eventually, after realizing I wasn't a fan of the corporate way of doing things, I decided it was time to work for myself and establish my own retail business, and thus Die With Your Boots On was born.
I am really into weird stuff, like horror, Halloween, and gothic literature. I love oddball art and tattoos, just generally anything that you might lump into the category of "weird", so naturally I wanted to create a business that leaned heavily into those interests. Salem is an amazing town for being open and accepting of the so-called 'strange and unusual.' Being lucky enough to live here made it an easy choice for a location to start our business.
Having worked in clothing and shoe retail in the past, I felt equipped to start a fashion-related business that encompassed so many of the things I loved personally. There's nothing better than being able to wear stuff on the outside that reflects who you are on the inside, and it is our hope that customers who come into our shop or order from us online will find new ways to express themselves through fashion.
What was a high point for you along your journey of building DWYBO?
Wow! This is a tough one. We really do have the most wonderful customers and such an incredible group of people working with us including staff and vendors. Just getting to work around so many interesting and talented people is a high point in and of itself.
For me, inspiring others and helping them develop themselves as artists and to apply their individual interests to a career is something that means a lot to me. When I see members of our staff growing and finding new ways to use their talents and creativity at work, as well as when they are working on their own art or small businesses outside of DWYBO it feels like a huge success to me.
I love seeing our vendors expanding and moving to the next levels, like hiring their first assistants or moving into a warehouse for the first time. And, as we ourselves grow as a small business, being able to create new positions and titles for our staff is an amazing feeling. Every day I get to say, "I never thought that my career would involve 'insert weird/fun/wild activity'," and it feels great when I get to hear our employees express the same sentiment. Jobs for weirdos are out there, people! If the one you're looking for doesn't exist, create it!
What's something surprising you found about running a business, that perhaps you didn't expect?
There were SO many things we were not prepared for. The best advice I can give is to know that no matter how much preparation and research you do, you can't know everything and to just sort of expect the unexpected. You can't necessarily prepare for things you don't know are going to happen, but it helps to mentally prepare yourself for things that might go awry.
We've had our fair share of surprise emergency situations, for example, a storefront that flooded on the regular during a long-term construction project our landlord was doing. Just as you might in your personal life, maintaining emergency savings for your business is a good idea.
There are a lot of things you don't anticipate or simply can't, like a global pandemic... for example. Be ready to pivot as things change, because they absolutely will!
What are your ambitions for DWYBO in the future?
We are always on the lookout for new brands that provide expansive sizing options. From the beginning, it has always been on the to-do list to design and produce some of our own clothing lines and we are excited to be working toward this for the not-too-distant future. We are also focused on expanding and will soon be sharing some news that is currently on the down-low! Keep an eye out for some very cool announcements!
Any other parting thoughts?
Thank you for inviting us to be a part of this series! We love working with you and Trued Apparel and are very much looking forward to seeing what you come up with next!