Amy Sternfeld is a phenomenal "Leading Lady."  Of course, I am a bit biased, because she also happens to be my mother! But its clear that running and growing a successful business and always making time for family is without question the traits of a true leading lady! I admire the way she always finds balance within her many roles – from working, spending time with her husband and us kids, and of course, her fabulous cooking she is without a doubt the ultimate super mom! 

Graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in merchandising management, Amy Sternfeld took her wicked skills and love for fashion and opened up a children's clothing store, Koochie Koo, with her partner Audrey. With such a charming name, it was clear the store would be just as dainty and sweet with just the right product mix!

Koochie Koo thrived for nearly sixteen years, in the every changing world of retail. It was then that Amy decided to hold off working every day, to focus on spending more time with her family. 

Sticking to her roots and passion for the retail industry, she spent six years working for a fashion and yoga company and then went back to what she loves most: independent, local retailers. Although she might not be working in the children's department, she found her niche at Rear Ends.  

Read on to hear more about how she built a successful business, adjusted to the many changes within business and everyday life which ultimately lead her to the current roles she has today, which makes her my role model and top notch Leading Lady! 

{SS}: Tell us about your business Koochie Koo, and what inspired you to start it? 

{Amy}: With my love for retail and fashion along with working in the clothing industry, a friend of mine and I always wanted to open up a store.  We decided on a children's clothing store because we though it would be fun and exciting to dress children. 

{SS}: Getting a business off the ground takes a lot of work. How did you get this business off the ground – how long did it take?

{Amy}: It was very hard work to open the store. I was lucky to have had a loan from my father to help start up the business. It probably took about 10 months or so to plan which included designing the store, coming up with the name/logo and several buying trips. It was a rough start because other businesses in the area were very unhappy by our opening and did everything in their power to stop us from getting many clothing lines. However, Koochie Koo persevered and became very successful.

{SS}: What was your favorite part about your business? What was the worst part – or what aspect of business did you enjoy the least?

{Amy}: My favorite part of the business was watching the customers pick out the clothes for the children. I also was very excited on the buying trips to see what the newest trends for the kids were. I had the best staff that became part of my extended family. As for the worst part, probably worrying about paying the bills and making sure I was fully organized and being on top of that.

{SS}: What was the hardest part of building and running a business while also taking care of a family? How did you manage it all and what did you do to make it all work?

{Amy}: The hardest part was making sure I had the best staff at the store so that I could be with my family – which I did!! I had the loveliest women work at the store because the store was friendly, loving and a fun place to shop at. We also had a play area for children as their parents shopped. Having this store while raising a family taught me how to multi task and prioritize my daily life. There was nothing better than making lists upon lists upon lists.

{SS}: When things got really tough, how did you overcome it?

{Amy}:  Life is not easy.  Nothing in life is easy. Tough times do happen. You either stand tall and proud and persevere or you will not get through any situation. Having my own business meant having patience, strength, compassion and understanding which helps me get through any difficult situation that may have occurred. The support from my husband and my family was also a big part of helping me through any situation. 

{SS}: What do you wish you had known about running a business before you did it? Any other advice you want to share with aspiring business owners?

{Amy}: The biggest thing I wish I would have had when running my own business was having a computer system from the start. We tried to bring in a computer system at a bad time and it ended up being a big failure. It would have made our knowledge of inventory control, open to buy and expenses a lot clearer from the beginning. The demand became so evident that we needed to expand our size ranges for boys and girls.

{SS}: You were in the retail space for years. What was your take on how it changed? What do you think retailers need to do to stay ahead?

{Amy}: We started our business out by carrying baby bedding, accessories and clothing from newborn to size 6x. As the demand for larger sizes increased, and as we expanded our business into a more street visible location, we eliminated the baby bedding and expanded our clothing sizes up to size 14 and expanded our gift giving business. This helped open the door to a bigger pool of customers to come and shop at my store. We became a destination store for clothing for our customers children and as a store with a strong gift business as well.

Having a good relationship with their employees and their customers would be very beneficiary to retailers staying ahead. They need to be present on the selling floor and listen to what the customer requests are. I think retailers need to go to various different markets to see what is trending in all parts of the country and be open to "trying something new"!

{SS}: Fast forwarding to your current life now, what is your typical day like?

{Amy}: I spend the day working out in the mornings and then head over to work.  If I am not working, I typically run around doing errands as well as planning my next dinner and meal with my family. 

{SS}: What is your biggest hurdle in your industry/job or just being a woman in business?

{Amy}: My biggest hurdle is making my customers feel comfortable and special in what they are purchasing. My goal is that they love what they are buying and that they leave the store happy with their purchase.

{SS}: What do you do to mentally prepare yourself to overcome those hurdles/daily struggles?

{Amy}: Each and every day, I remember to take a deep breath and remember to have patience with each and every person that I encounter on a daily basis.  I know that it is my job to give them as many chocies as possible and to help make my client make the right choice so that they look and feel their absolute best.

{SS}: What is the thing that you are awesome at – the thing that makes you happy and you know you are the best at it?

{Amy}: I am best at taking care of my family. From cooking fresh and yummy meals to doing the laundry, to doing errands, as long as my family has everything that they need, I am fully satisfied.

{SS}: What do you do to make you feel beautiful, confident and ready to take on anything? 

{Amy}: I make sure that I workout to start my day as well as making sure I am dressed the appropriate part. From the perfect outfit, to the perfect accessories, to the way my hair is styled!

{SS}: What is your "Style Archetype"?


{SS}: Who is your fashion icon?

{Amy}: Julia Roberts, Charlize Theron! 


{SS}: At Styleshack, we are all about local boutiques. What are your favorite local boutiques to shop at and why? 

{Amy}: Rear Ends because there are so many stylish, fun jeans and blouses that I can transform and wear everyday as well as for night.  My House of Style has fabulous one-of-a-kind jewelry; I can always find something cool and fun there!  Zieben Mare has great style and home accessories; there are so many cool and fun things I find that I know no one else will have.

 Lori Karbal also has great clothing and home accessories that are spunky, different, and very trendy! From an array of high-end clothing, to candles, perfumes, cookbooks, and much more, Lori Karbal always has something dainty and sweet for me and friends! Sundance Shoes is my favorite shoe store to shop at!

They have trendy, funky, and shoes you might not find at all the major retailers as well as always finding something comfortable and stylish; that's why I love it so much! 

{SS}: What are your favorite things currently on Styleshack?



Stackable Eternity Bangle Bracelet ELLA Designs, Tassel Pearl Chain Necklace ELLA Designs

Studded Bangle Bracelet ELLA Designs, Signorelli Watermelon Tee Cotton & Copper Boutique, BB Dakota Jolene Dress Cotton & Copper Boutique

{SS}: What is your power outfit or accessory (the thing you know you look and feel your best in, whether it's for work, staying at home, playing, etc.)? 

{Amy}: I feel the best when I am wearing a wedge or platform shoe, heel, or boot. Being 5'2" and my husband being 6'3", I am always happy when I am not so short.  Adding some height makes me feel more powerful and my very best.

{SS}: What is your power song?

{Amy}: Don't Stop Believing by Journey.  It's my favorite song! I love jamming out and listening to it very loud because I know all the words!

{SS}: Who inspires you and why?

{Amy}: My husband, my children, and my parents inspire me! My husband inspires me because of his commitment to me and my daughters. He is hard working, strong, sensitive and is dedicated with so much love to the three of us. My daughters are very inspiring because they're each hard working as well as to succeed and be the very best in all that they do.  They are filled with so much love for everyone that they deeply care about.  My parents are very inspirational because of the family values and love that they instilled in me while raising me.  It was all about family first, at pretty much all costs.  They showered me with love and supported me in everything that I did to make me the woman that I am today. 

{SS}: Favorite local go-to spots for lunch or dinner?

{Amy}: Luxe Bar & Grill has the most fabulous brussel sprout salad that I order pretty much each time I go; it's too good!! Cantoro's Italian Market Trattoria is always outstanding! From homemade pastas, pizza's, seafood, and so much more, it reminds me of being in the heart of Rome, Italy for fresh Italian food!

Streetside Seafood and Beverly Hills Grill are also some of my favorite go-to spots, especially with friends! El Barzon is one of my favorite Detroit spots for dinner! They have a huge variety of both Mexican and Italian food – my favorite is the Veal Milanese!! Jim Brady's Detroit is another favorite spots of mine, the restaurant opened about year ago and is fabulous!

{SS}: What are you "words to live by.." Favorite saying or quote?


This is my favorite saying because it is so relevant in almost every aspect of life.  It makes you accept things for what they are. And, when you have to go with the flow, you just have to remember to take a deep breath and remember that it is what it is!