TalkingWithTami: You have a fabulous business called,”Its Eclectic”! Tell us what made you open this business?
I opened the business because I grew up loving fashion especially accessories. My family was on a tight budget and I had to learn how to be fashionable and unique but on a budget. I realized that you can get an inexpensive pair of jeans and a cheap t shirt ( I usually bought the mens 3 pack of white v necks) but pair it with big dangling earrings or a great necklace and you looked like a million dollars. It also allowed you to create your own individual style. I wore saddle shoes and was not a cheerleader…….I just thought they looked cool! I used my dads old ties for belts through my jeans and spent a lot of time at thrift stores buying old vintage necklaces and pins. (still a favorite activity).
TalkingWithTami: Before you opened your business, what were you doing?
Before I opened It’s Eclectic, I started a pre-school with a good friend. We both had very young children and didn’t want to put them in daycare all day. We also could not find one that we liked. Together we opened a preschool that catered to small classes and creativity over pushing academics down 3 year olds. It turned out to be a success. However, after 9 years, I knew my heart was not in it anymore and I needed adult interaction desperately. I found a very small space that I could afford to rent. I kept my current job as co-director of the preschool so I could pay my rent. I ate my lunch in the car and opened my shop from 1-5. I worked at the preschool from 7:30-12:45. I eventually moved to a larger 100 year old cottage for 2 years and now at the permanent location on the beachside.
TalkingWithTami: I was at your trunk show with Tarina Tarantino in Jacksonville,Florida, how did you two gals connect?
I started carrying Tarina Tarantino’s line almost immediately . There was another shop, Edge City that carried the line but her shop is almost 45 minutes from the beach. I believed there was a large enough market by me to make it work. I totally fell in love with the line and so did my customers. Over time, her line grew and my customer base did as well. Now, we are one of her bigger domestic clients. I didn’t just love the jewelry, I also love the people that work for the company including Tarina. She worked hard and packaged items out of her apartment until her business boomed. She maintains that down to earth feel with the company and I respect that. The people that work there have become friends that I look forward to seeing when I go on buying trips. Eventually I started asking Tarina to come down to Jacksonville and do a trunk show as Jacksonville has a huge and loyal following. Several other businesses also wanted her to come and together the 3 of us had a trunk show/ tour which worked out great for all of us. We all focused on a theme with different times. This allowed everyone from all over Jacksonville to have a chance to come and meet her.
TalkingWithTami: How do you know as a store owner, what will sell and what won’t for your store?
This is a tough question. You never really know. There are times when I hit the mark and it works out great and then are times when what I thought would be great…turns out to not be so wonderful. Most of the time though it works out if you spend a lot of time in your store and really get to know the people who shop there. Some people open a business and immediately hire store managers and never step foot inside. This will rarely work. I do favor unique items that you can’t get everywhere and that’s what I usually look for. This is an ongoing process though as other stores will constantly check each other out and if someone is doing well with a certain line…others may try to carry it. Or you will find an upcoming trend before it hits all the major stores. You have to hit it early and not overbuy or you will be stuck with it when the market gets saturated. I also try to have a variety and not get stuck in one particular age bracket. I know that my son would prefer that I not dress the way I do…..but I believe that you should dress however you want and not worry about your age. If I want to wear tights, a somewhat short denim skirt and top loaded down with jewelry…than I’m doing it. You only live once… so enjoy it! ( I did give away my Girls Next Door pink tank top….one less thing for my son to talk about it future therapy sessions! )
TalkingWithTami: For people out there that may want to open an accessory store, can you give them some good tips?
Let’s see……To Be honest with your customers. We have a reputation of telling the truth even if it means losing a sale.We will tell them instead what the girls are looking for and then leave it up to them. We also get a lot of brides and homecoming..prom events. There have been times when a girl or a bride desperately wants a pair of earrings or a necklace set and needs it right away. We have told many that they may need to look at some other boutiques as the ones we currently have do not match or just don’t look good on them for the occasion. People appreciate that because they know you aren’t just saying what it will take to make a sale.