Retail boutiques are seeing an amazing rebirth all over the country. Personalized service, special events and opportunities to interact with customers are becoming an essential part of doing business. These types of special touches provide lasting impressions that will keep customers coming back. That's exactly how our latest Store Owner Spotlight See Jane Sparkle really shines.
See Jane Sparkle is a boutique located in southeast Evanston, just north of Chicago, Illinois. See Jane Sparkle is in its 4th year and has come a long way since starting as a trunk show back in 2001.The store is the brain-child of local designer Sara Jane Abbott. The store is a launching pad for what Sara Jane envisioned as a brick-and-mortar community for both established and developing artists and designers. See Jane Sparkle provides not only jewelry and women's accessories, but luxury designer resale items, vintage finds and a wide variety of personal and home accessories. Sara Jane's vision is for See Jane Sparkle to be the destination for both artists and customers to "find their own sparkle".
Do you have a background in retail? If not, what is your employment background?
"I went to Syracuse University for Fashion Design, then designed for 17 years in the corporate world for a variety of major retail companies. I started working retail at a local antique fine jewelry store. It was my first job when I was a teenager. I always knew I was going to own a boutique someday, I just didn't know if it was going to include clothing, jewelry or gift. Now I'm all three."
What factors led you to decide to open a retail store/website?
"I have been designing over 30 years and I wanted to design and be the boss. When I was working design in the corporate world, it was like designing with blinders on. I started doing trunk shows to showcase my own ideas. Towards the end I was doing over 30 shows while working full time as a mom of two children. I am a people person, so the next step for sure was for me to open my own store."
How did you come up with the name of your business?
One of the first things that grabs your attention is the name of the business itself. With a name like See Jane Sparkle, you have to figure that there is a great story behind the name.
"The name comes from my childhood. There were these Golden Book series Dick and Jane. The "Jane" in the name also is a play on words since Jane is usually a plain Jane but I have her SPARKLE."
The style and flow of a retail space is one of the keys to its success. Customers have to be able to move around the store without feeling overwhelmed. Sara Jane has done a great job achieving this with rich wall colors coupled with the copper tones of Store Supply's boutique fixture collection. One of the most exciting features is a beautiful chandelier in the center of the space. It offers the classic look of an exclusive boutique. The result is a space that appears warm and inviting.
What was your design strategy when you put your store together?
"I love vintage furniture and everything shiny like crystal, mirrors and metallic gold or copper accents. I have a mix of copper toned fixtures from the cobblestone collection, a white pedestal center table, vintage walnut and espresso desks, chairs, tables and touches of red. I found two vintage red arm chairs that have become my "guy" chairs. I also have grey border distressed area rugs, vintage chandeliers and lamps and some glass cabinets. I love designing my interior space! Maybe that's my next career."
What inspired the direction of the look of your store?
"I have always loved the old-school glamour of the 1940's. I use the brown boxes and paper bags with the baroque printing, Paris script or the Newsprint bags. I have stickers printed and then add a gem to each sticker on the bag."
What are some features/special events that you do at your store to set yourself apart from other retailers?
The store also offers a unique space for private events such as Girl's Night Out and birthday parties. Special occasions, weddings and custom designing are other offerings to round out the assortment.
"My Beads and Bubbly parties are private design parties where adults and kids as young as seven can design jewelry while sipping bubbly. We serve Prosecco for adults and homemade soda for the children. I also do monthly events as appreciation parties for my "Starlets". See Jane Sparkle shoppers are called "Starlets."
What advice if any would you give others seeking to open a retail business that you have benefited from?
"Take it slow. Learn from your mistakes and just have fun!"
Would you like to be featured in our next installment of the SSW Store Owner Spotlight? Email Patricia Sims for more information.
See Jane Sparkle
1312 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60201