During a home renovation project, Sara Slatter was unable to bring her patio to life due to the inability to find the quality products she was looking for in Boise –– from there an idea was sparked! Patio Life in Meridian has been open for four years and aims to bring fun quality patio furniture, patio accessories, and hot tubs to the Boise area.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Patio Life?
Prior to opening Patio Life, I was a stay at home mom of five kids. I hadn’t worked in 25 years, so this was a new adventure and it has been great. Our family has lived all over the country, and we finally decided to settle in Boise about 12 years ago. It was the best decision we’ve ever made.
Did you always aspire to be a business owner and what was your motivation to open Patio Life?
We found this super awesome old house in a cool older neighborhood that needed a lot of work. I’ve always loved entertaining and we decided one summer to put in a swimming pool. We had this tiny postage stamp backyard and everybody thought we were crazy. So we put in this 6x8 foot cement pad in our backyard, and as I was starting to find ways to make it look homey, there just wasn’t anything in Boise out there.
How do you find where to source your furniture?
It was all a learning experience. We didn’t know, so of course like everybody else, we got on google and there’s outdoor furniture markets, outdoor resources. We go to markets 3-4 times a year. There's different markets in Chicago, Atlanta, Vegas, Dallas, and High Point and meet vendors. It’s so fun to stay up on current trends.
What kind of products do you look for?
We are quality-made. Patio Life caters to made in the U.S.A products and products abroad. They also deliver and set up patio furniture, giving the ultimate experience.
What would you say the most important step you had to take to becoming a business owner?
For me it was 100% just saying to myself, “Sara, you’ve been changing diapers, doing playgroups and volunteering in the PTA, you’ve been running a family of 7, you can run a store, you’ve got this. It was confidence.
Do you have any advice to those wanting to become a business owner?
I wish that first year, and even the year before in planning –– instead of having pride I would have surrounded myself with the posse of women I have now right away. I love that I can call somebody who’s got a store similar to mine or completely different than mine, that we can sit and talk “ wow what did you do that worked? What did you do that didn’t work?”
I’ve learned way more by opening myself up to other business owners and communicating with them then I did through google and trying to figure it out myself.
Who’s a WIB that you look up to?
There’s so many. I love all of the small business owners that have trusted me with their merchandise and let me sell it in my store.
What’s your favorite part about owning a business? The hardest?
My favorite part of owning my business is that I am a huge people person, which is also the hardest part. I love working in the store, connecting with people, going to their houses and mapping out their backyards, and seeing their excitement. Because our business is growing, that is not something sustainable.
Sara gives credit to her amazing staff at Patio Life and their commitment to connecting with customers when she can’t be there.
What would you attribute the most to the success of Patio Life?
We love entertaining, we love outdoors, we love making our customers happy, and we want a good product. Our biggest focus is our customers, and it’s something we strive to have the best customer service experience.
Sara encourages customers to shop around and compare prices and qualities at different stores –– making Patio Life all that more appealing. They aren’t about a sell, they are genuinely about customer experience.
What hurdles do you encounter owning and operating a business that you didn’t expect?
COVID-19 was scary. Like many, in March we had to close down for a month. We saw our lives flash before our eyes. What was super stressful ended up being great, people were at home and wanting to redo their patios.
Sara talks about the Boise community and how they really pulled together to keep their favorite businesses running.
It made people that lived here say, “that store is important to me, how can I help?”. I’ve seen a lot of acts of kindness from local businesses and people coming into small businesses specifically instead of bigger retailers.
What’s something you want aspiring entrepreneurs to take away from this?
My only take away from this is that I grew up in a time where I didn’t see business owners that were women . I didn’t even know if women were the business owner. I love that now I can name 25-30 businesses that are owned by women in Boise –– and that’s just quickly. If I really thought about it, I bet I could name 100. I think it’s really cool that it is a great example for our daughters –– to get out there and do something that you want to do. Get out there and do what your passion is. I love being surrounded by these awesome women.
With no concrete plans, Sara is bouncing around a few ideas for Patio Life –– a bigger storefront (meaning more goods, yay!), or even a second location. Either way, Patio Life is continuously striving to find the best goods and services for their customers.
3410 N Eagle Rd, Meridian
(208) 450- 2292