What brought you to this career?
Originally, I studied to be a teacher, but after two years of never quite feeling at home in my work, I wanted to try something completely different. Retail is a great mix of things that I enjoy: working with people and cultivating a space where others feel welcome and (I hope!) find the perfect card to mail, something special for their home, or a unique + handmade gift for a friend.
What is your most memorable experience in your career?
Each time a customer shares something they've enjoyed about the shop is memorable for me, but my favorite memory is of a shop friend sharing that her daughter loved The Lady Jane so much that she played "store" with our bags and pretended to work at the store and wrap gifts for people. That was in our first year of business, and I've now known this family for almost 8 years!
What is a typical day like for you?
Most of my time at the shop is focused on customers who come in throughout the day; my favorite part of being downtown is the daily conversations I get to share with both new and returning customers. I also do all of my ordering, restock the shop, answer emails, and update our website/social media pages. There are also displays to change throughout the year, artists to book for First Fridays, daily to-dos around the shop, and I spend quite a bit of time connecting with our local vendors.
What do you like most about your job; what motivates you throughout the day?
I love when a customer and I become first-name-basis acquaintances and then friends. It's a joke I make sometimes that the shop is really just a front for me to make friends; but truly some of my closest friends I originally met through their simply walking through our door. My motivation comes from seeing excitement and joy someone finds in the things we offer at the shop; especially because the items are often made by local artists who work incredibly hard and who I am so proud to represent. I'm reminded daily that I have the opportunity to make someone's day a little kinder through thoughtfulness and attention, and that's such a gift. I've had so many profound experiences with people and with my downtown neighbors. Just as an example: the other day a customer walked in who had just had hearing aids placed for the first time. We spoke for several minutes about how difficult it was trying to adjust to sound and how uncertain she felt not knowing how her voice sounded to others. Although I hadn't met her before, and might not meet her again, I felt honored that she shared her day with me in this way.
What advice would you give for someone looking to pursue a similar career?
(What education/certifications, skills or experiences would they need?)
Whenever someone shares that they want to start their own business, my reaction is GO FOR IT!!! But I do recognize being a small business owner isn't the most practical career path. It's been the best journey for me, personally. But retail is not always a financially secure job for someone raising a family or for anyone with large upcoming expenses (new home, medical bills). Loving what you do every day is probably the best qualification I can think of for any job, but skills like accounting, marketing, graphic design, photography, networking -- all of this has been on my "wish I knew how already, but guess I need to learn!" list over the years. Annual salary is difficult to say; because so much of what is left over at the end of the month or year I put towards new inventory or improving something in the shop. It took 5 years before I went even a weekend-long-away vacation...but almost 8 years in, the shop is thriving and I'm still madly in love with my little store and the people who come into it every day.