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Episode 7: The Challenge Of Running A Small Retail Business During COVID

My Candid Conversation With Three Local Female Business Owners

In this episode, I talk to three women who own boutique retail businesses in the Rock Ridge neighborhood of Oakland, CA:

  • Joyce Gardner, Owner of Fit Clothing Boutique
  • Johnelle Mancha, Owner of Mignonne Decor
  • Andrea Serrahn, Owner of Serrahna Boutique

Rock Ridge is an area that typically sees heavy foot traffic from locals and visitors, making it an ideal location for local businesses. However, COVID has changed all that. I invited Joyce, Johnelle, and Andrea on the podcast to share their experiences operating retail businesses in the midst of a pandemic, and how they’re tapping into their creativity to find new ways to serve their customers and generate revenue. Whether you’re a business owner yourself or looking for ways to support your local businesses, I think you’ll find their tenacity and commitment to their community and customers inspiring. 

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Episode 7 Transcript: The Challenge Of Running A Small Retail Business During COVID

00:00

Welcome to episode number seven of the Financial Finesse podcast. I’m Cathy Curtis, your host and a financial advisor who specializes in the finances of independent women based in Oakland, California.

00:14

Today, I’m interviewing three women who own retail businesses in Oakland. I wanted to discover what their experience was like running a business during the pandemic.

00:29

Joyce Gardner owns Fit clothing boutique, Johnelle Mancha owns Mignonne Decor, and Andrea Serrahn owns Serrahna Boutique. All of these stores are based in the Rock Ridge neighborhood in Oakland, which is a thriving commercial district. I hope you enjoy our discussion. Hi, ladies, thank you all for joining me on my podcast, Financial Finance. It’s really good to see all of you on YouTube. Great to see you too.

01:00

So thank you so much because you three represent successful small business, retail, retail business owners. And as we all know, things have gotten quite difficult since March with the pandemic, but also prior to that you had the onslaught of online shopping, right? So over the combined 18–how many years? So Johnelle, you’ve been in business 14 years with Mignonne Decor. Andrea, you’ve been with Serrahna for 18 years, and Joyce, you’ve been with Fit for 18 years. So very experienced, long-term retailers. And I know our audience is gonna love hearing from you and what you’re experiencing right now. So what, and so the two of you are fashion retailers, and one is home decor, and I think there’s probably

02:00

some differences between what’s happening with your businesses right now based on what you’re selling. Because you’re not all the same even selling clothing, you’re selling totally different types of clothing. And we’ll get into that.

02:13

And Andrea, I’m sorry, I called you Serrahna. That’s the name of your store.

02:19

So let’s start with Andrea, I want to ask you, you have a very unique business, selling clothing, that is Indian themed, you actually design your own clothes, you probably built up a great following, and you sell jewelry and all kinds of beautiful things. And what has happened with your business over the last few months? Well, like most retail businesses, we’ve all suffered a big hit. And a big change in terms of walk-in business. Everyone, you know, took cover and didn’t come out of hiding for a while. And then finally, when the city of Oakland and the mayor declared it safe, under the you know, protocols of safe

03:00

social distancing and masks, etc.

03:03

I started taking clients by appointment. But meanwhile, I still had clients who wanted to shop who love shopping who want to support me who still want to get dressed every day and wear color. So they’d reach out to me by email, phone text, and say, I need something, help, what do you have for me? And it was really nice to have that kind of connection. And I have been building up an online presence for some years now. I’m not wanting to go online, but here we are.

03:37

This is the moment right.

03:40

When stepped in my shop, they would recognize the abundance of inventory that I carry and the idea of going online is really daunting. However, I have used these moments of COVID and downtime to use models and do really low

04:00

passionate, sensual photoshoots and post those on Instagram and Facebook. And that’s been driving me a lot of business. That’s fantastic.

04:12

And all of that is going to all those images that I’ve been creating. I do about two or three shoots a week. So I’m getting about 25 to 30 images, different looks. That’s all feeding into this new website that I’m creating with the help of a designer. Okay, so you’ve thought about, you have not had a true online presence yet. You’re building up to it and then you’re going to do your website to actually sell off of it. Right I’ve had an online presence in terms of Instagram and Facebook. Yes, ecommerce aspect is going to be amplified with the new website. Yes. Okay. Good for you. Okay, we’re gonna get back into that more but I’m gonna go to Johnelle. So you do home decor and decorating. You go to people’s homes and help them decorate their homes and you

05:00

We also have a retail store that sells. So what I’ve been reading is actually your part of the business home decor is actually doing really well right now because people have to be at home so much. Have you felt that and seen that trend in your business? Yeah, I mean, I think just kind of like Andrea, you know, the first initial like, oh my gosh, your store has to be closed. It’s a little bit of a panic. And yes, you’re right, that people are sheltering in place and kind of thinking about their homes on bigger scales. And now we’re seeing like my interior design, I’m picking up. I’ve locked down some really fun projects. But yeah, definitely. It’s not like I would say that has just like replaced all of our foot traffic and everything. But yes, you’re absolutely right that people are, we are lucky that people are in their homes and reaching out to us for different projects and things like that. Yeah, right. Right. Good. And Joyce.

06:00

Can you lift up a little bit? There you go.

06:09

I know your shop well, because I’m a loyal customer of Joyce’s. And she’s been selling women’s fashion for a long, long time. And so Joyce, what has your experience been?

06:21

Ever since March, let’s say, well, the thing was, you know, the original edict for retail didn’t work for us– curbside delivery, which meant nothing because what does that mean? Yeah, you know, our women like to come in, touch and look at new things and try it on. You can’t try it on and have curbside delivery. It just didn’t. So we actually opened on June 19.

06:50

So people aren’t out shopping, but we work by appointment, which really helped because I call my good customers and they would come in

07:00

to grab new things, because I’m not very into, you know, doing a lot of online things because it doesn’t work for a personal business like what we do. We’ve been in the neighborhood 18 years. So we built up a good clientele. So I would call them or they would say, send me some pictures and I would send them pictures of the new things and I’d send it to them free shipping, get a free mask. So they were really happy with it. But the nature of retail has been going downhill anyway after the recession, and online shopping is continually, you know, wanting to come to see you. But see neighbors will fly because people aren’t going anywhere. They’re not venturing far. So they do want to support local people. Yeah, yes. Yeah. Yeah. So you brought up three different things. You brought up the recession, which I’m assuming you mean the 2007-2009 recession. Yes, yeah. And then Amazon or you know,

08:00

We’ll just call it Amazon.

08:03

business. And then now, the pandemic three whammies. Right. Johnelle and Andrea have you felt all three of those as well? You’ve all been in business through 2008.

08:19

I feel like you know, that’s just kind of going back to what it means to be a small business owner, especially when you’ve been open all these years. It’s like, when the whammies hit you, you channel that, like drive that first initiated the whole concept of opening your own business. It’s like, you have to depend on that. Right? And it’s not enough to get you through. I mean, I know you all probably have a real passion for what you’re doing.

08:48

But you also have to pay the bills. And you’ve been in business a long time. Has there ever been moments in those years where you’ve thought, oh my God, this I just can’t do this. No.

09:00

More. Joyce, do you want to

09:03

kick in? Well, we have a lot of sleepless nights. Let’s put it like

09:08

anxiety, what you got to have

09:11

you know, the reason why you are in business because you have a belief that, you know you can make this work. It’s not like most businesses have been making a ton of money. It’s not about that because you care about what you do. You do care about your customer. So there is this thing where we are and most of our customers are women, right? They’re not men. Because men don’t spend money, we know that so our consumers are woman, yes. And we do care about that they understand we have relationship with them, whether we’re dressing them for their body or their home. You know, we are trying to take care of them and that’s what I believe in, you know, and I do want them to feel better about themselves and feel good about being in their home. What they do because we have a lot of responsibilities. A lot of them are retired but they also are mothers.

10:00

Got husband you know they got things going on in their lives right now. Nothing’s going on. So to get them to buy something is a challenge. Have you shifted the things that you buy given that most people are at home in their companies? Yeah so you know the term they hated that was that sloppy chic? So I think women are ready to get out of stupid sweats and their yoga clothes. That’s enough. You know, we dress for ourselves, not because we have to go somewhere all the time. You know, because we do like to feel good. I mean, I still put makeup on I still get my you know, comb my hair, and men don’t give a shit. You know, they can be on zoom and look like hell. But we still care about how we live our face to the world. And our home now is spending a lot of time there. So I’m spending and doing a lot more projects with my house than I’ve ever done.

11:00

You know, to answer your question about, you know, would I ever consider? I think it’s just I think it goes back to the community and like what a small business brings. So we’ve been having an online presence for a long time and people can shop and, you know, obviously we’ve ramped that up, you know, as of late. It’s, um, but really like, what do you want your community to look like? Do you want empty storefronts? Do you want to walk in, you know, people who love walking, you know, on College Avenue and pick back up? So I think it’s also really important just as consumers, you know, there’s enough you can buy something on Amazon, but you can also enjoy a coffee and a stroll and is that ever something you’re not going to want to do in your life? Like, I don’t think so. You know, I mean, I still agree with you. I should have said earlier that all of you have your stores in a neighborhood in Oakland called Rock Ridge, which is a super popular neighborhood, great walking neighborhood. It’s so sad to me that there’s so many storefronts that are boarded

12:00

up in Rock Ridge and that’s not only because of COVID, there’s other reasons landlords and things like that.

12:08

And I if, if it happens, that small retail dies out, I’ll be the first one to cry because it really is something that local bookstores, local clothing stores, eateries, everything about at coffee shops, it’s such a pleasure and to see a mix of, of stores like when your store went in, Johnelle, I was so happy because it wasn’t another hair salon or nail salon. It was actually a great retail store that you could walk in and enjoy looking and maybe buying something. So then I mean not, yeah, go ahead. I mean, I just feel like you know, when people travel and they and you know, when you go like that’s kind of something we try to bring it in. It is like this artistic experience that you know, like Joyce said and Andrea, it’s like you go and there’s a little bit of a wonderland and you know, you’re selling things

13:00

that, you know, are special and artistic. And so I think people, how do we drive that connective? Like, yeah, the small, the small purchases for small business really add up, you know, be it a $50 purchase. Okay. So that’s interesting. That’s, that’s maybe a good point to bring up a little bit. It’s not, you’re not just looking for the big purchase or the big engagement. Someone that walks in and buys a vase is every bit as an important customer as someone that engages you for more traffic. Yeah, there you go. You know, the service. And

13:41

yeah, me too. Andrea, you want to? I agree with Johnelle’s point there like when I had my door open to the public more than I do now. The casual drop in person who was going next door to have dinner or had just come from across the street and had lunch. Oh, look at this cute shop.

14:00

I feel like I’m in India. Well, you kind of are. And look at these earrings. These are fabulous. And oh how cool and you work with the artisans and you design some of this. Oh my gosh. So there’s $50 and there’s, you know, 75 and there’s 35 and that does add up. That does add up and that helps a lot. A little goes a long way. And people always say, I’m going to be back because I’m going to get gifts here. And so they want a resource where they can just pop in and get an easy grab gift. So I’m going to loop back around to the whole thing of boarded up storefronts. Yeah, because I don’t know if it’s sadly but I do have a boarded up storefront. I chose to do that when the looting and the rioting broke out. I have a lot of inventory and a lot of precious things. And I was like, I am not gonna fall prey to this. There’s just no way. Insurance or whatever. I’m just not going to deal with this shenanigan

15:00

of all this so

15:02

my partner’s a contractor, he put up a rather elaborate boarding system and paint. We painted it nicely. And so now I have a bunch of people coming in buying those 35, 50, $75 gifts. But I have time to focus on my website and focus on the bigger picture the next level the next place. Yeah, and my regulars know I’m here, there, they’ll bypass the, you know, the green plywood and come in, they know I’m here. And they all say no, don’t take it down. Wait till after the election. Just wait. Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, I get a lot of support on that. And I’m glad because I was having sleepless nights when I wasn’t protected. And now I’m doing fine. Yeah. But it does have a negative impact on drop in kind of business. So it’s a trade-off.

16:00

That’s very interesting. Um, so going back to the whole online question, um, Johnelle, do you do a lot of business? Do you do most your business online or mostly with walk in and in person? Well, I mean, there are different facets to our business, like you touched on, you know, part of it is the showroom come in, get a gift. And that was why we moved to College because the bustling foot traffic and wanting to be in a community where people could come in, so there’s that. Then I do interior design and custom work that all fall under the umbrella of the home and we have a separate location on Martin Luther King, where we have a carpentry workshop and do upholstery, and then I have my fabric room. So, you know, we’re kind of a very interesting business in the sense that like, you know, and part of that is the first recession, you know, I started as kind of a gift and home decor shop. And when the recession hit in ‘08 you know, I was just a couple years open and it was like, okay, well, what else do I like to

17:00

do, I’m an artist, I’m a painter. I started selling furniture and then that turned into a whole other facet. And so that’s kind of like what we’re talking about with online for, you know, some of the other retails and focusing on online and getting, you know, getting crafty and thinking about other ways to generate income. So, yeah, I mean, we’ve always sold things online for the past couple of years, pretty consistently, but not as much as we are now, with just the major push on our Instagram page and Facebook and telling people we’ll deliver it, we’re doing complimentary, I do complimentary deliveries, if someone buys something and lives in the neighborhood we’ll take it to their house.

17:40

So yeah, but as far as like the foot traffic that we were depending on prior to COVID, you know, that has been a challenge, you know, because, um, because we don’t have it and and having to market and try to like, you know, supplement that online. Yeah,

18:00

we’re working through it and we’re getting and like I said it’s for me more than just online. It’s been locking bigger interior design projects. Yeah. And those types of things, right. I know I feel for you because I know you just opened that shop two years ago now. And a year and a half and you have the perfect location right next-door to Trader Joe’s, right next to Bart. It’s on the walking strip. It’s great. And boom. Well, yeah, we open the last couple days. We’re busy, like I sold furniture yesterday. It’s like so for me, I’m just staying in the positive lane. I don’t even want to introduce. It’s like we have to all work together, you know, the community and everybody to kind of get through this. And I think that’s what finds comfort is like, it’s not just me against the world. It’s like everyone’s dealing with this, you know, in their own realm. So I’m not going anywhere. I love my storefront. I love my neighbors. I love it.

19:00

Grew up in Oakland and, and so we’ll get through it one way or another. Yeah, you know one thing I’m really noticing with all three of you is you’re all entrepreneurs and business ladies, but you’re also very creative.

19:17

Like you’re saying painter and you’ve thought of creative ways to keep your business going over the years. And Andrea, you make all, well, I don’t know all but you make a lot of your own things. And Joyce. I know how creative Joyce is in putting together windows and she’s got that artistic eye for building outfits and helping women put them together. So maybe that’s the secret sauce is, is that creativity that you’re passionate about and keeps you going? Even when the raw business may not be so good. You still want to keep going and you love what you’re doing. Andrea, do you want to? Oh, yeah, absolutely. Um, when COVID first hit, and we all had to hunker down. You know, like most people, I went into a short

20:00

or however long depression for a little while and I’m like, ah, this is no fun. Don’t feel sorry for yourself get out of it. So I figured out, okay, if people aren’t going to be coming out, I’ve got to nurture this, you know, turn lemons into lemonade and, and a friend of mine is going through some transitions and she needed some work. And I’m like, well, let me give you an opportunity to model, you’re gorgeous. You love my clothes, my clothes love you. And so I’ve really been embracing this as an opportunity to take the time, which I didn’t have before. Because I’m very busy dealing with the minutiae of every transaction, and holding people’s hands which I’m happy to do, and I like doing, I love having that connection with my community. But with this downturn of business, I’ve got time and I have no shortage of creativity. So

21:00

my online presence on Instagram and Facebook has really picked up and I’ve picked up quite a few followers in the last six months. So I’m happy to tell you, I’m a shopper. Okay, I love beautiful things. I love fashion. And I think Instagram is a fantastic way to sell. And like all the stores that are using models, it’s brilliant. I mean, it’s so fun to see the models and the clothes on a human. And then you’ll probably start using video to that igtv video is a great way to sell. I mean, it’s just such a great tool for online. Joyce I know you’re using Instagram to some degree. Not quite as much, but actually it’s pretty good because you know I try and post other things too like food because I like to eat you know, my dog, but then every time I do Instagram I get lots of people yeah, last my customers so we’ve been sold out on a lot of pieces that I posted. Who’s good on Instagram, so yeah, not very good.

22:00

I’ve always been trying to encourage Joyce to do more online, but you know what, so you can’t change people’s thought

22:09

school

22:10

you know, you got to use everything and every tool at your availability now you know, we’re trying to get through this so anything that helps even me, Joyce years ago like now, I’ve come full circle but years ago I was like I can’t do. I didn’t even like have, we were cash and cheque only like I didn’t want to. I’m like I’m an artist. I want this to feel like old school, you know, you walk into different world but, you know, I finally got over that hump. But what I did in the beginning was you know, I had someone who worked with me like, I would say, I want these types of pictures. Just take like 10 pictures and email them to me. So it was someone helping like to do the Instagram and now it’s fine. Right?

22:56

Yeah, you’re outsourcing.

23:00

Great thing for something that you don’t love to do. I’m a small business person too, by the way, so I, I mean, I’m not having the challenges you are I cannot because I don’t own a retail business. But I outsource a lot of things. I figure out what I love to do and what I don’t love to do and outsource, right? I mean, you can’t be good at everything. So that’s right. So I’m gonna get in the nitty gritty of finances. Not too personal questions about finances, so don’t worry, but there was the

23:26

Care Act passed. And there, there was the PPP loan and there’s also emergency assistance loan packages. And I’m wondering if all of you were able to take advantage of it either in the first or second round? And how that experience was for you. Joyce, do you want to start. Well, the first round went to all these big chains, which was stupid and wasn’t supposed to go to them, was supposed to go to small business people, not the Lakers, sorry, and not these big food chains. So the second round, we did get some money, but guess what, nobody thought Covid

24:00

would still be going on in August so all that money’s gone. Yeah. So yeah, it was only supposed to last two months that money you know for no business people. It’s tough. I mean, I have a second source because my husband helps me out. Yes, we know but he doesn’t feed money into my business. I have to figure it out every day. What are we going to do? How are we going to get business and stuff so we really just have to constantly you know, just come up with new ideas and keep it keep excited about the business. So now I’m seeing more people come out because they realize COVID is not going away. So you better come out once in a while. It’s okay. Yeah, you know, you’re doing the right things. So you got to have some sense of your normal life a little bit. So with you and so in your case, the PPP money was welcome, but it didn’t close the gap. Yeah. What about you, Johnelle. Um, yeah, I received the second round PPP loan but

25:01

You know, it’s also a sense of chaos, even without it. I mean, I was so grateful. And like Joyce said, you know, it was for short term. And it did provide, like a sense of, but it also comes with an additional To Do List of like, ah, get all of this, you know, to get it because the whole concept is like it can be forgiven and, you know, and then with a state of, you know, just the presidency and the uncertainty, like just so many I know, it doesn’t end with getting the money, it’s how do you divvy it out? And how do you get forgiveness and use like, for me, like, I have employees, so I didn’t let anyone go even during the beginning, you know, it’s like, everyone stayed on payroll, and that was like to get that PPP loan, you know, you had to make sure that no one went off, okay, like so there were all these contingencies that like were stressful to be spending and paying money when there was this big hole. But just like everything else, it’s like you find the gratefulness and that was something that helped.

26:00

For sure. And now we’re kind of, that moment of pause is over and like Joyce said, it’s like the world is opening back up and it’s like, okay, it doesn’t stop there. What’s the next creative thing? Like what you know, and I think it’s about contagious energy. We’ve been open now back to the public Thursday through Sunday. I was busy this weekend, and

26:23

we’re doing it in a safe way. But yeah, it is a start. I’m getting the feeling. Well, Andrea, you don’t know yet. Because you’re focusing on your online and keeping the door shut. But it sounds like for both of you, Joyce and Johnelle, that it feels like things are opening a little bit more. Yeah. I mean, it’s gonna take time. Yeah. And this week, Alameda County is letting you know, they opened up a little bit more, but I feel for the hair salons because they’re not allowed to be open. I mean, you know, we can open our doors they’re not allowed to be open and they,

27:00

what’s the source of income? Right, right. Andrea, what about you with the PPP? Did you find that helpful? I did. Um, my partner is very business oriented. So he was encouraging me and pushing me. I’m like, I gotta finish my taxes first before I can even apply so I had to get all that together

27:20

because the bureaucracy of it, the paperwork is just a little bit daunting when you’re trying to maintain your everyday kind of storefront if you will. Yeah, so but I did. I ended up getting both PPP and EIDL, the economic industry disaster loan, right. Here’s the low percentage loan which was pretty substantial. And I just put that away. Good. Are you not gonna use it? I have a year until it starts to me interest and you know, it’s a nice nest egg. If I need to use it. What is the interest rate? Three and a half percent.

28:00

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Did you all go through your bankers individually personally? Or did you go online and apply?

28:10

Thank you because you will have banker’s relationship with you back so, okay. Yeah, because I know you did too. And Johnelle you did too. You had someone help you through there and then my accountant is really good and she actually if anyone needs to get an accountant, my accountant Liz is all biz like she posted tons and tons of stuff. She’s based in San Francisco but she does like videos on her Instagram feed and she’s amazing. Yeah, that’s good to know because I’m a financial advisor and I get asked all the time do you know a good accountant? So thank you. Thank you for that. That’s really helpful. Well, I’m so glad to hear you all got PPP because I remember in that first round, I was so disappointed to hear that so many small businesses didn’t get it and then thankfully, they started

29:00

it up again and they kept it going for a while. I don’t even know if they gave away all the money or not in the end, which you know they did, it got used up right away the first round and not so much all the wrong people that’s why the first round. Yeah, well okay so we’re gonna end, this has been so interesting and I want to give each of you a chance, we’re gonna use this as a little marketing effort to just talk about your business and just give us a little overview because we haven’t done a lot of that yet. And Andrea, why don’t you start and how people can reach you. What your Instagram? What do you call it? Name? Sure, sure. My Instagram handle is the same as my business name which is Serrahna. Serrahna means to be a queen and anyone who walks in the door or comes to me online. I’ll make sure they feel like a queen

30:00

after I’m done with them and you can get all kinds of beautiful colorful pieces from me. I specialize in color. Indian textiles are just ramped up with so much color. So and I understand what makes color work on each and every person considering the skin tone, their hair, their eye color. So you won’t walk away looking like a clown you walk away looking like a piece of art, a beautiful piece of art. So I dressed women of all ages, colors, shapes, sizes. I used to dress women going to weddings, Indian weddings aren’t happening so much right now. But people who just like comfortable cotton, pure fibers, silks, cottons, and all worked with the hand. Beautiful, you know, minute little tie and dye embroidery stitches, hand crocheted, a lot of like just bespoke kind of garment tree and jewelry. So

31:00

I hope you’ll come and see my collection on both Facebook and Instagram. I’m about to launch my ecommerce website, serrahna.com I believe in September. Great, well you’re a walking advertisement. Thank you. You look beautiful. You really do. Thank you. So Johnelle,

31:21

yeah tell us about you. Well, Mignonne means young decor and when you walk into our showroom you’re kind of taken back and we have

31:31

our brand is really kind of encompassing old world charm and timeless, one of a kind pieces for the home to complement you know, modern living, you know, if you’re going to buy something new, every house should have in our opinion, a couple statement pieces that tell a story. So when you walk in, you can find a larger piece of antique furniture that’s been refinished or reupholstered knowing that we’ve taken the time to

31:58

rebuild and save a piece from

32:00

landfill and pick out new fabric. You can also come in and find a small gift, be it you know, like you said a vase to put a beautiful arrangement in or a one of a kind textile rugs. So just pretty much anything for the home. Um, we have another shop in France, my family, my mom lives out there in the southwest. And so I studied painting in college and traveled a bunch and I just was always enchanted with our seasonal people actually using their hands. So that is something that you will find when you come into our showroom. And you can also talk with us when you come in about our custom services. Like I said, if you have a piece that maybe your grandmother gave you and it has sentimental value, that’s something that we can help restore for you. And then we do full scale interior design services. So I have a huge network. My husband is a carpenter. He builds furniture.

33:00

So for our bigger projects, we can you know, build cabinetry or banquette sore, whatever, you know, custom furniture, I would, I would tell people to go to our website, which is just mignonnedecor.com. And there’s tons of information about all of our services and you can shop online and receive a quote by reaching out to us also on Instagram. Great. Thank you, Johnelle. Perfect, perfect. Okay, Miss Joyce? Yes.

33:32

So, I just came out of a partnership in 2000. And it was in Burlingame. And it was I figured, okay, after two years break, I was going to open my own store. And I always like Rock Ridge. There was something about Rock Ridge because it always had the dining but then we use the retail, there’s no retail and right there wasn’t a lot of retail. It was

34:00

Awkward Rags, which was consignment anyway, so I found a spot right next to them. And I always wanted to have a store that was accessible to women, everyday woman and Oakland was the perfect thing. Because I came at a high end designer in but you know women the adult care about wearing Dolce Gabbana, Prada. So they want really great design, but really good clothes that fits their lifestyle. That’s the name of the store, clothes to fit a modern lifestyle. And that is 18 years ago, I tagged that line. Now it’s close to fit a pandemic. So what are you going to do? So, but it’s always been about really taking care of women and seeing how they could look because a lot of women really do need help in how they dress because that’s not what they do for a living. We do this for a living. So our customers are lawyers, teachers, moms from all walks of life, except now you know, they’ve, my customers have aged

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With me, so now a lot of them are retired or not doing as much. And they still need clothing, right? So what are they wearing? That’s the key. So going forward, now I have to figure out, you know, it’s beyond sweats and athleisure wear, but they still want good design and good quality. So it’s taking them to go and forward. I just bought spring 2021. I’m very optimistic, because who the heck knows what’s going to happen next year. But in the European market, yes, by way ahead. But I am very optimistic because, you know, I know women still love beautiful things for their home and for their bodies. And they still do care about how they look no matter what age and we do dress all ages that we really do. But our particular customer really has good, you know, discerning taste, so we started doing consignment too because they have too much clothes, and they haven’t worn most of this stuff. So we sell it for them and then they can get a credit to buy something

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New in the store. So that’s also added another dimension to our business is the online presence. You know, I still do Instagram, but I still like the one on one, you know, interaction of dealing with women and just seeing what they need and dressing them and taking care of them. So hopefully, you know, they’ll stay with us till their 70s and 80s and 90s. So we’ll see what happens. So I love it, very optimistic about the future. So it’s good. That’s great. Joyce, thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you to all of you. I I’m so inspired by you, and I, I’m optimistic too. I feel like things are gonna get better, please. And maybe they’ll get even better in November. Right.

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Don’t watch the TV this week, is all the Republicans.

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Okay, well, thank you. And I hope I see you in your store soon.

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