Tell me about your career path and what lead you to become a small business owner in the coastal community.
I was born and raised in NJ, and graduated from Howell High School. After college, getting married, moving to Colorado and having two children, my husband was deployed with the Colorado National Guard. Our children and I moved back to the area to live with my parents while my husband was away. It was during this time that Daisy Lane Design was born. While the kids napped, I sewed. Little things here and there, mostly gifts for friends. And word spread. In 2008, I opened an Etsy shop and officially began this journey. When my husband’s deployment was over, our family moved back to Colorado for several years. However in 2013, we were able to make the move back to the east coast a permanent one. Since that time, I have worked to build up a client list here at The Jersey Shore, and have been so blessed by the people I have met, the shows I have been able to be a part of and the local businesses I have been able to partner with, such as Frame & Fiber in Point Pleasant, Shop b in Bradley Beach, and From the Garden in Freehold. I have also met a large number of amazing artisans at area craft shows and am truly honored to be a part of such a supportive community.
What role does being eco-friendly play in your business?
My favorite way to incorporate eco-friendly practices is the re-using of materials. This is a growing part of my business and a direction in which I am eagerly heading for future projects. T-shirt quilts, refashioning jackets and clothing into one-of-a-kind sentimental pieces, cutting up and patching together old denim jeans…all of this keeps things out of landfills and also meets a sentimental need for my customers. I have also been developing a line of reusable items that will help take the place consumable ones. Sandwich wraps, snack bags, bowl covers and fabric napkins can all be used, washed and reused numerous times – keeping their disposable counterparts out of the trash while saving money in the long run.
Finally, I try to use every piece and scrap of fabric that comes into my shop. I have bins for every size and shape of fabric scrap, and I try to incorporate as many bits and pieces as I can into future projects. When I can, I recycle boxes for shipping and use simple materials and strips of fabric for wrapping. It is easier on the environment, and adds a bit of interest to the item.
What can other members of the community do to ‘stay green’?
I think a lot of people in our area are very conscious of their impact on the environment. That is great. But we can always learn and do more. I think that the first place we can start is in our own home. More and more we are becoming a disposable society. But looking at the things we own in a new light, seeing how they may be reworked, repainted, reused – these are all ways that we can do to stay green.
What is your personal philosophy on being a successful member of the coastal community?
Getting involved with other businesses – sharing ideas, supporting one another, collaborating, and encouraging each other – these practices are all vital to being a successful member of the coastal community. Having face time with your customers is absolutely essential as well. Whether it is at a craft fair or farmer’s market, or just a physical presence at a brick and mortar store, customers like putting a face with a brand. They like to meet you and see the hands that make the handmade things. It is time well spent to make those connections, and very rewarding as well.
Why should Monmouth University students and other young people especially ‘shop small?’
Young people have a lot of influence and purchasing power. By shopping small and shopping locally, they have the opportunity to support their neighbors and encourage interesting and diverse growth in their communities. So many of the small businesses I have been associated with are extremely generous within their local community. When consumers help a local business, there is a ripple effect that impacts the entire area. And then, when young University students are ready to step out into the workforce, there are more opportunities for employment as well as for entrepreneurship.
Who has inspired/inspires you?
My kids inspire me. They are my biggest fans. They come alongside of me and help with the parts of the shop they can help with. They cheer me on and they keep my spirits up when things get tough. They even have some pretty good ideas. My son helped design and market one of my wallets and it was one of last summer’s best sellers.
Have you learned any important lessons from your experiences as a small business owner?
Owning a small business takes time, dedication and hard work. Most of all it takes a belief in yourself and your product. There are going to be times when that last bit is tough. It’s important to surround yourself with people who are going to build you up and support you, but are also going to tell you hard truths from time to time. Sometimes you just need a pep talk. Other times you need to do some self-reflection and make some changes. The trick is in knowing when you need which.
Thank you, Allison!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan of “The Coastal Collection.”
Susan, an Atlantic Highlands resident, handmakes the items that she sells, from cards to trees. She believes in the power of entrepreneurship and small business.
Susan’s creations are available all around the coastal area and at her Etsy store.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie of Katie Bird Jewelry. Katie’s jewelry can be found at many markets around the community, including Ocean Grove. She designs and makes it all herself and is a great advocate for shopping small.
Coastal NJ Small Business: How did you get into jewelry?
Katie: I don’t really remember a time when there wasn’t a craft project around my house. My mom sews, and her parents did folk art and sold their stuff at craft shows back in the day. When I was little, I remember going to craft stores and whether it was embroidery string to make friendship bracelets or little kits to make something else, like Christmas ornaments, I always looked and wanted and begged. By the time I was in middle school, I found dedicated bead stores and saved any money I had to go on bead sprees. While you can find material and sewing machines, yarn for knitting, paper, and rubber stamps for card making, or paint and any other craft supply at my family house, I always drifted to the jewelry. Largely self-taught, I did find a metal class to take so that I could learn to solder, cast, and other techniques that are not as easy to do in a living room. While I did sell a little bit of my jewelry back in the day, it was really after college and the metal class that the jewelry “business” took off. With the new found time and the new techniques I was learning in class, I was able to produce more stock and work on new pieces I had not been able to make in the past. I set up the business in 2010. Since then, I have dabbled in new techniques and selling my jewelry at home parties and craft shows and markets.
And how do you keep your jewelry green?
You don’t have to go crazy to go green. Whether you are using recycled products or repurposing stuff. Jewelry is great, (because) you can start with fresh materials or take pieces/stones/beads from old, vintage, broken, unfinished pieces. Friends are always dropping off old jewelry that they think I can use pieces of. When using sterling silver, I always save the scraps for casting projects. All of a sudden you have a dish of scraps from wire wraps or cuttings from sheet that is more than enough to make a cast project.
One of the companies I buy from also offers a scrap buyback program where you can send metal scraps for credit towards your next purchase. I largely use sterling silver, and silver is a finite resource, so you have to think about that. Silver scraps can be melted and reformed.
There are great recycled paper products out there for business cards, signage, invoices or whatever. When I receive packages, I always save the boxes and packaging to reuse when i have shipments. For my workspace, whether it is being frugal or green, I have always repurposed items or taken second hand furniture to work on. When considering tools and supplies look for the energy efficient one, get the energy efficient light bulbs.
What is your philosophy on being a successful member of the coastal community?
Everyone out there in this small business community is doing something that they love and believe in, so much so that they have invested a lot of time and money to bring it to the public. While there is bound to be some overlap of products, everyone has their own spin and vision for their work. we need to respect one another and encourage each other. Just as I was raised in a crafty house, I remember always going to craft shows as I grew up.
Shopping at your local main street stores is great too. Supporting artists, craftsmen, artisans, jewelers…is great, not only because you are supporting small and typically local businesses, but because you can find great things that you wouldn’t in bigger stores.
You are a huge advocate for shopping small. Care to talk more about that?
Small business Saturday is the Saturday after thanksgiving, the day after Black Friday.
Why do we need to set aside one day to recognize small businesses? There is something great about shopping at your local stores. Getting to know the owners, the more intimate feel of the store. Go to the small surf shop to buy your boardshorts. Buy a handmade item that shows craftsmanship and pride and is unique from what everyone else might have. Get what you want, support local business, and often small businesses run sales for regulars or when they need to move merchandise for new seasons. Shop small to support your neighbors.
What have you learned through your business?
You have to get out there for people to see your work…You have to be your biggest promoter. Not everyone understands the work you put into handmade jewelry, and how that can translate to quality and price. Be proud of what you have made, not everyone wants what you are offering, and that’s fine. Your product isn’t for everyone and you can’t change your vision for them.
How do you connect to your customers and coastal community?
Having lived on the coast my whole life, some of my designs tend to lean to nautical and coastal: waves, shells, blues and greens, anchors and knots. I have a new project in the works that involves incorporating recycled layered surfboard resin into some designs, which works here and isn’t something I would do if I lived in the middle of the country. You have to know where you are selling. When I’m set up at a craft market, you need to read to customers. Can you convert that browser to a buyer. Does this customer want to hear more about the piece and how it was made? Since I handmade things it is great to be able to offer custom pieces so that people have a sense of ownership in the design. And I love seeing repeat customers or shoppers that stop by and recognize me and say that they love previous purchases or always get compliments.
That is so wonderful, Katie. Thank you!
Be sure to check out Katie’s jewelry at a market near you!
Here is a new video featuring some footage and audio from some features of the past few months.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Brittany from Dean’s Market in Ocean and touring this amazing shop! Dean’s is about as organic and green as a shop gets.
Listen to my conversation below and check out the photos from this exciting visit.
Dean’s has aisles of foods that are eco-friendly and healthy!
Many of their products come from people in the local communities and farms.
Even their beauty products and supplements are organic.
Dean’s was founded on an idea that Dean had when he started his family-oriented business.
Dean’s produce is ALWAYS guaranteed organic.
Visit Dean’s. They have four locations, but I visited this one in Ocean. You can visit them too at: 1119 Highway 35!
I had the privilege of interviewing Holly of Holly Jolly Jams. Listen to our exciting interview here.
Holly is a great example for all entrepreneurs looking to do what they love while staying green and making people happy.
“Holly Jolly Jams are homemade in small batches with a low-sugar recipe, using only the freshest ingredients, hand-picked or locally purchased when available.”
I have been going to Woof Gang Bakery with my Maltese, Lester, for some time now, and the shop’s owner, Barbara was kind enough to do an interview with us!
Your shop is so friendly and clean. It’s like a gourmet shop for pets. What inspired you to open such a special place?
Thanks so much for the kind words. Our inspiration for opening Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming was the addition of our black lab Reo to our family. When Reo joined our family, about four years ago, we took a strong interest in his health and wellness. From training, socialization, and exercise, to making sure he was eating premium, natural, and holistic foods, our goal was to make sure we were doing our part to keep Reo happy and healthy (both mentally and physically).
The one obstacle we kept running into was that our town did not have a store that offered the premium products and services we were searching for. Knowing that other pet parents in the area were probably struggling with the same issue, we knew that we had to open a full-service boutique where pet parents and their pets felt at home and could find the products and services they were looking for in a personalized, friendly, and intimate setting. That’s when we stumbled onto Woof Gang Bakery. It was exactly what we envisioned. From the beautiful decor, top of the line products and mission to be “Your neighborhood pet store” we knew that this boutique was exactly what we needed to bring to the community to share our passion for pets with other pet lovers.
Tell me a bit about your background.
I’ve been an entertainment attorney for the past ten years, but my passion for pets has always been paramount. I’ve spent countless hours researching pet nutrition and overall pet health and wellness (from hygiene to training and socialization). I knew it was something that I wanted to share with the community (to potentially educate consumers and to share with other passionate pet parents). Opening a small business meant that I could give back to the community in so many ways – adoption events, community events, opening the job market, helping the economy – even if just in small ways, I was certain that our passion for what we do and love would positively impact our neighborhood.
You are obviously an animal lover. Do you have any other pets?
Besides the 4-year-old black lab, Reo, we have a hamster named Teddy!
Do they ever come into the shop with you?
Reo does come into the shop often. You will often see him greeting customer (or napping) behind the counter. He also participated in the dog social events we offer like Mutt Mixers, which are supervised group socialization/training classes for dogs of all ages and sizes. The customers know and love Reo and are always asking for him when he’s not at the shop. We also had a portrait of Reo hand painted in our “Training Lab” where we hold training classes. Unfortunately, Teddy (the hamster) doesn’t come to the shop.
Do you do anything to keep environmentally friendly?
We are all about natural, non-toxic, chemical-free products – from cleaning products to bathing products and everything in between.
You make those doggy biscuits on the premises, right?
We make some of our treats on site and also have select doggie bakeries we shop from that only make organic, grain-free, all natural cookies.
Why should Monmouth University students and other young people especially ‘shop small?’
I never really understood the importance of shopping small until I owned a small business. Small business owners are passionate. It’s a 24-7 job. Small businesses really focus on the community and customers – each customer is special, because they’re helping you sustain your business and fulfill your passion – so the customer service at a small business is always personal, friendly and paramount! Shopping small really helps the economy in so many ways – just our shop alone has provided employment for over 10 people. We’ve given back to local rescues and the town of Aberdeen…. Small business has passion!
Do you have any favorite stories about your four-legged customers?
Each one of them has become family to us. It’s so special when we’re able to help an animal (cat or dog) that has had an illness or allergy by working with the pet parent on the proper nutrition and general hygiene practices. It’s such an accomplishment to work with a timid pet in the pet spa and help them gain confidence to come in the spa and enjoy the process. It’s incredible when we find a shelter pet its forever home at one of our various adoption events. We really love what we do and the feedback we’ve been receiving from our customers has been fantastic!
Anything else to add?
Thank you so much for asking us to be part of this interview. We are honored and humbled! We really have a passion for what we do and we feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to share it with our community!
Visit Woof Gang Bakery at 1121 NJ-34, Aberdeen Township, NJ 07747 with your favorite four-legged friend, and see just what a special place it is.
Red Bank, NJ
Yestercades is an incredible arcade in Red Bank for people of all ages. It is great for the community and environment in how all the games are recycled. Yestercades makes many games from the 80s playable and even has space to play newer games like Xbox and PlayStation. In that way, it is the perfect embodiment of a place that is both wonderful for the community and for the environment.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the owner of Yestercades, Ken. He gave some exclusive insight into his business just for us here at Coastal NJ Small Business.
Ken grew up in a small family pharmacy. While his original career was a job in sales, he started Yestercades in 2008 when the nation was facing tough financial times. He wanted to provide affordable family entertainment to allow people of all ages to escape to a time when they were carefree.
On The Games
Ken tries to keep his machines as original as possible so that they have the same feel playing them in 2016 as they did in 1983. In that way, these machines work to transport players to a simpler time. Young people can see what it was like to be a kid in the 80s while those who grew up in the 80s can remember those days.
Ken said, “I’m in my 30s, and if I zone out to play Donkey Kong for an hour I forget the stress and responsibilities of bills, staffing…all those adult responsibilities. I’m taken back to carefree time when my biggest worry was if I had a zit.”
This is also important for the environment. When a machine is reconditioned, that is less waste and a great way to recycle.
The Challenge of these Machines
Maintaining these machines so that they run the way they used to presents a challenge for Ken, though, because there is no arcade store.
“It’s not like ‘I need a box of nails, let me go to Lowes” Ken explained. For that reason, he has to special order everything and hope that someone makes it a hobby. Ken said, “We do our best to keep everything as original as possible.”
Again, this is a great example of Yestercades’ recycling. Many of these parts are original and would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Connecting the Generations
Upon visiting Yestercades, you will see children, adults, and college students all playing. Children like it for the games. There is everything from Pacman to air hockey there for them. Adults enjoy it for the nostalgia. All the games from the 80s remind them of their great times playing them. Teens and twenty-somethings enjoy it for the ‘cool atmosphere’ and fun games, of course. Everyone loves the games.
“It’s very cross generational. You’ll see a dad and son playing Simpsons or Track & Field and then playing Xbox together on couch, when normally, the dad would have never played Xbox,” Ken said.
The Future of Yestercades
Ken has opened new location in Somerville, after being in Red Bank for five years. He said that he has seen how businesses evolve, even since he first opened. He does his best to keep prices the same as when he opened to provide the same inexpensive family fun atmosphere that he started Yestercades for.
Ken’s Message for Small Businesses
Ken tells all his employees, “It doesn’t matter if there are two people or 100 in the arcade. You have to pay the same attention to everyone.” That is why we love small businesses: you get the care and service that you couldn’t get anywhere else, and you make real community connections.
When you drive by Revere Picture Framing on Route 35, the first thing you will notice are some nice big “Shop Small” letters on the side of the shop. It is this attention to shopping small that attracted me to this shop.
I interviewed George, owner of Revere Picture Framing about his store and shopping small. I learned that George has a wonderful personality that keeps his customers coming back and helps to encourage the shopping small community mindset.
The Beginning of Revere Picture Framing
George has been in business for eleven years. During this time, he has had three locations, including one on Main Street in the Atlantic Highlands.
The shop came from George’s background in graphic design. He had great jobs and even worked for city ad agencies in Los Vegas. When he saw too many people getting fired, he decided to start his own business to take control of his own situation. However, he started his business right when the recession hit. He says he struggled but survived and is proud to say that last year was his best in business.
Around the Corner
George lives right around the corner from his store. He likes mom & pop shops in the community.
“Quaint little shops and service make neighborhood special,” George said. That is why he is sure he gives individualized attention to each customer. He says the word ‘no’ doesn’t exist in his shop. Even if he can’t help, he will find someone who can. That is what makes his, and most mom & pop shops special.
“It’s important to support community, because you spend money with me, and I support other programs in the community.”
While small businesses are environmentally friendly in themselves through their promotion of local production and less carbon emissions from local travel, George does extra for the community. He throws away very little.
Scraps of map board and leftovers from main projects get turned into gifts and giveaways at trade/craft shows as promotions. He uses these instead of business cards. As a plus, people remember his business. Instead of material that would end up in landfills, they are repurposed and enjoyed.