My name is Kristen Zachares, I am an artist, and the owner of The Eclectic Chic Boutique. I grew up in Woodland Park, but feel more akin to Montclair than anywhere else I’ve lived. Montclair is one of my inspiration for my way of life - the artist lifestyle. I am creative, organized, and productive. Being creative is just as important to me as running my business. At the moment, I wear a number of hats, and do my best to juggle them with the help and support of friends and family. My next goal for my website is to start a blog.
I’ve wanted to create a blog for while. I have a million ideas, but had no clue where to begin, and I didn’t want to start with a random topic. Creating a good first impression is very important to me. And that got me thinking: what makes a great first impression in the websense?
In person, when I want to make a good impression - I put on a great outfit, wear some of my favorite handmade jewelry, smile confidently, and introduce myself. When I think about it in those terms, it makes sense to start my blog off in a similar fashion. I’ve written about myself in the “About the Owner” section of this website, so I won’t just copy and paste what I have there. Instead I would like to highlight my Why - the drive behind my passions and my business. Its Why I started this, where I want it to go, and where I hope to take it.
Where it Began
Ever since I was little, I wanted to be an artist. Now that I think back on it, I really didn’t have a clear idea of what that actually was. I just assumed you get to create your art and you would live a happy life.
I didn’t live in the most ideal family situation - my parents were divorced, and I had two disabled younger brothers that required a lot of attention. I didn’t get to participate in many of the activities that other children my age did. Art was my escape, and my outlet. I could create whatever I wanted with what I had, and one one could change that. Art was empowering for me, especially because I was very shy and introverted. It also provided a way for me to connect with others - students would ask questions or complement my work, and it would spark me to engage and develop connections.
Eventually I did find my chique - nerds. I was a nerd girl, and I’m still proud of it to this day. I loved video games, movies, and drawing my favorite characters from those media. Soon my friends started requesting me to draw their favorites, or drawing their original characters. Some students would offer me money in exchange. That's what helped bridge the gap for me, between art and business.
Why I Started a Business
Starting a business became my dream. For me it was the ultimate independence - being my own boss, creating my life, and paving my own path. I created a brand name, called YinYang Remix, and it comprised all the things I loved creating - illustrations, comics, and jewelry. Then I took the next step; setting out and selling my work.
Craft shows became my favorite summer activity. The thrill of setting up in a new place, arranging my display, meeting other artists, and sharing my work with new people - it was thrilling.
It was also a learning curve. I realized craft shows were more than about sales. There were many factors that I didn’t take into account - how to create a proper display, talking to customers, tracking inventory, understanding if I was actually making a profit, etc. One of my flaws is that I can be very stubborn, and at the time I really felt I knew exactly what I was doing, and didn’t need to learn anything else.
Finally I came to a realization; as determined as I was to make this business a success, it wasn’t going to get off the ground unless I swallowed my pride and actively learned to navigate the business landscape. Even things I already knew I would have to re-evaluate, or else become a victim of my own hubris.
I decided to take a chance and applied to Rising Tide Capital - a nonprofit that provided hands-on business courses that instructed the practical aspects of running a business. The program covered all facets, including marketing, advertising, budgeting and financials, and other topics. Just the application process asked me questions about my business that I hadn’t thought of before - Who was my target audience? How much profit was I making? What needs was I fulfilling?
It spring-boarded a new path in my business journey.
Why I Started The Eclectic Chic Boutique
After graduating Rising Tide Capital, I felt enlightened. I finally figured out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take my business. I discovered that, as much as I loved being an artist, I also loved helping people and sharing my work with others. It wasn’t just about making money; it was also about sharing the joy of creativity with others. I found my Why.
I restructured my business, and The Eclectic Chic Boutique was born. I opened up my business to artists who, despite having great deal of creativity and drive, lacked the business savvy necessary to monetize their talents. I shared the knowledge and skills I had acquired, and helped them bridge the gap between art and business.
If you were to ask me why I started my business, I would tell you it’s because I love being creative, running a business, and sharing creativity. The goal of The Eclectic Chic Boutique is to help artists get their work out there, and connect them to customers who are willing to support their talents because they appreciate the love and care these artists put into their craft.
Where I Want to Take my Business
As of the date of this post, I have been making and selling crafts professionally for 6 years. As of June 2017, it will be my first year as head of The Eclectic Chic Boutique.
My dream and my drive is to one day have a brick and mortar store, where customers can come and experience all aspects of creativity. There will be craft tables, where children and adults can take a break from their daily lives, to make a craft project and experience the joys of creativity. People can shop for all manner of handmade goods - from clothing to jewelry, to soaps and sauces. They can access the tools they need to create their own artisan lifestyle. There will be space reserved for parties and classes, and for artists to come in and create their wares.
That is my next dream. I thank everyone who has supported us so far, and I appreciate that you will continue to as we build momentum and grow.
What Can We Expect With the Blog?
The Blog will have several purposes. It will be an informational extension of the website. For customers, it will help provide insight into what goes on behind of the scenes of The Eclectic Chic Boutique, as well as informing you of the various tutorials on products and items available on our online store, and provide interviews with our member artists. For artists, we will provide useful business tips, ideas and information for craft shows, creating events and other topics.
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Once again, thank you from your dedicated CEO, Kristen Zachares.