There is an old saying: "The clothes make the man."
"There's such detail put into men's shirts that's not even put into women's clothes," Man Code Owner Gabrielle Spanger said.
You have probably also heard that behind every well-dressed man, there is a woman.
"I know people walking in are shocked I'm standing behind the counter. They say, 'I assumed you were a man,'" Spangler said.
Spangler is the newest neighbor to arrive in Downtown Sioux Falls. Man Code offers a unique sense of style to the area, bringing in brand names you won't often find here. From shiny shoes to tailored shirts and jeans for any occasion, Spangler's boutique is a full-service style mecca for the area. Though she said many people expect her to be a man, perhaps the biggest surprise to many of her customers is that she is only 22 years old.
"Hopefully by 30 I'm doing what other people started doing at 30. So, it's really been fun and I can't wait to see where Man Code goes. I have a lot of time to build it, so it's good I started at a young age," Spangler said.
Man Code has been open for a full week, and Spangler says running her own shop has been her dream for years. Her parents have always been self employed, so she has always been business minded. Spangler is not the only 20-something in business.
"She likes it. The first few months she was stressed, working all the time. But now she sits by the window and lays in the sun," Ellyn Suga, said about her dog, Etta.
When she is not getting comfortable, you can find Etta greeting everyone who walks into Suga's store. Nearly a year ago, Suga opened Shop Dog Boutique, a fixture at The Bridges at 57th. The business offers all natural pet food, toys and everything in between to make your furry friend happy. Currently 27 years old, this young business owner said she had more support than criticism when creating her business.
"I had such a strong vision for what it was going to be that when people would ask about it, I could really speak to what my vision was," Suga said.
It looks like a bright future for both Spangler and Suga. Forbes recently named 20-somethings the most successful entrepreneurs in America. Facebook, Apple, even Walmart, were all created by individuals under 26. In finding a pattern for success, according to Forbes, young business owners tend to have more energy to build up their careers, take more risks and explore more opportunities for growth. Suga is already starting an online store.
"I have too many ideas. It's a problem of mine," Suga said. "I'm really interested in home delivery in the future. Lots and lots of ideas. I think it's a fun industry where there's all these different facets I can grow into. The trouble is there's only one Ellyn."
Years of research, education and utilizing local resources have helped both women get a better sense of what's needed in the community. Suga recommends anyone interested in opening a business should utilize the Small Business Development Center in Sioux Falls.
"It's just having the confidence to talk with people about your ideas and you never know who you're going to meet that has a great connection for you," Suga said.
There may not be one code to crack for turning your dream into a reality, and Spangler and Suga know there are plenty of challenges when opening a business. However, they believe there are steps 20-somethings should take.
"When I was in college, I felt like I was 30, going to college with college kids and I feel like it's always going to be like that. You definitely have to act the way you want to be. If you want to be a business owner, you definitely have to act like one," Spangler said.
"If you have the passion for something, you'll find a way to do it and you'll keep striving to make it happen," Suga said.
Though you may expect a 50-something, 40-something, or even 30-something behind store counters, Man Code and Shop Dog prove you are never too young to find success, even at 20-something.