Have you ever thought about why you buy something? Perhaps the simple reason is that you just like it, or maybe the reasons behind your shopping habits stem from a deeper meaning. You genuinely care about the story behind a product, who made it and where it came from. Rather than settle for cheap factory imitations, you seek out apparel and accessories handmade by local artisans. For those who wish to join this localization movement, look no further. Just Be is the boutique for you. Read on to learn the story behind their business strategy, and why you should hop onto their community-driven bandwagon:
Name: Sarah-Margaret Church
Role: Owner, Just Be
CollegeFashionista: Tell me about starting the business. What were your initial goals?
Sarah-Margaret: I have an art degree, and I had always wanted to find a way to combine my love for art and my desire to own my own business. [Just Be] supports close to sixty artists around town. It’s a hard job, but the more artists can showcase their work, the more opportunities they have. When I bought the store, my goal was to stay true to our mission and what we do, keeping everything handmade, fair trade and U.S. made.
CF: What makes Just Be unique?
SM: We want our customers to get a piece that’s not just a throw away piece. We want them to find something they can wear for season after season. We want them to have something that they love and that speaks to their personality. Our customers love to hear the stories of where our products came from. They want to connect to the story; they have a personal development for it. You enjoy supporting the artist or supporting the cause that’s attached to it.
We also want to mix beautiful patterns with classic pieces, things you can wear year-round, with anything. Like I said, we want our customers to have pieces that last them a lifetime, that people can transition from season to season and that are well made so they can last. They buy them not because they’re super trendy, but because they love them or they love the story of where they came from.
CF: What are you looking forward to most for the future of Just Be?
SM: We’re trying to get more apparel, but right now we just have a lot of accessories and jewelry. Also, another company we buy from actually gets a group of people or customers together, and they will tailor a trip for them. They can go to a fair trade cooperative and see how a product is made. For example, they took three dads with their three daughters and did a service trip to Africa through this company. It’s really neat! I would love to do something similar with our customers one day.