Damn, I've been bursting at the seams to share this with y'all but I wanted to wait until the lease was officially signed, sealed, and delivered before I announced.
Y'ALL WE ARE OPENING A SHOP THIS FALL!
Let me start off by saying that I am so incredibly grateful for all of the support I've had through this journey of business ownership so far. Bright Body would be absolutely nothing without my awesome customers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
If you're interested in learning more about what the store is all about, where it'll be, when I'll be opening, how this unfolded, and how I'm feeling, read on.
Here's the really exciting stuff. The shop ethos has three main pillars:
Bright Body Boutique stocks products good for:
- Our Bodies - all personal care product ingredients are vetted with the highest standards for unparalleled safety and performance.
- Our Communities - we prioritize stocking excellent products by small businesses that give to nonprofits invested in fostering an equitable and inclusive society.
- Our Environment - We prioritize products with sustainable, refillable, and/or reusable components. We prioritize businesses that are mindful of their environmental impact.
We will be stocking skin & haircare, makeup, sunscreen, eco-friendly goods, local art, plants & planters, and more.
In addition to Bright Body, an incomplete list of the brands I'll be stocking are:
- Elate Beauty
- Clove + Hallow
- MD Solar Sciences
- Naked Goat Soap Co.
- Bon Air Naturals
- Wolfgang Beard Co.
- Laura's Botanicals
- Mac's Smack
- Beego Handmade
- In Between Dreams Co.
- People Via Plants
- Figure Form
- Happy Clay
The shop is going to have a light & airy mid-century modern aesthetic - which aligns with my brand feel & is also an homage to my late grandma, whose thoroughly mid-century modern home was my happy place.
The shop will be located in Carytown next to the Pit & the Peel at:
3319 W Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221
The lease starts September 1. My goal is to have a soft opening within two weeks and grand opening festivities will happen the week of October 1st - which is also Bright Body's 2nd birthday.
A long-term goal of mine - say, in 5 years - was to have a brick-and-mortar slash production space. Of course I'd stock my own stuff, and because of all the questions I get about my recommendations on products I don't make (e.g. makeup, sunscreen, bar soap, bath bombs), I knew that I wanted to stock more. I envisioned a store with Bright Body goodies + a curated collection of complementary product lines on my shelves, all vetted and endorsed by yours truly.
This was in my head, in the ether, and I had talked about it with a few people as a long-term vision, but I figured that it would not be possible for a while. When the PERFECT space opened up, I knew I couldn't turn down this opportunity.
A lot of people seem to assume that just because you have a small business & make big steps means you must be rolling in dough. Let me be crystal clear: this is a big leap for me & for Bright Body. The whole point of this leap is to scale up and grow, and I've heard from multiple other small business owners that you'll never feel 100% ready to open a brick-and-mortar, you just have to plan well and then go for it. I am equal parts risk-taker and hyper-organized planner, so I've learned that I have to trust my intuition.
This evolution into a brick-and-mortar means that the numbers feel scary right now, but that's the whole point of opening a shop - the idea is to use it to grow and scale up. None of this would be possible without the support I've already had from you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
Ultimately, I'm taking this leap because I don't think I'll ever feel more ready than I am now.
Many of you know that I moved into a small production studio space in April of this year. It was such a relief to finally separate my home and my work, and production has been infinitely easier since. I was really optimistic about my future in the space until I began having difficulties with how the property was managed.
Then, a bunch of problems that affected my ability to conduct business began popping up. Communication was seriously lacking, and I was getting frustrated with how everything was handled. Ultimately, management offered to let me leave my lease early with no penalty. At the time, I thought, "Well, sh*t, I just moved in. I just hired someone. I don't have the time or energy or bandwidth to find another space and move right now." I did a bit of digging in commercial real estate listings and couldn't find anything even remotely aligned with what I needed. I figured I would have to steel myself to the situation for the year lease. And then my new right hand, Lindsay, stepped in.
Quick & important aside: Lindsay has truly been a blessing in this phase of my business. She is eager to learn, conscientious, and hardworking. We work together like freakin' peanut butter and jelly. I am so very lucky to have her by my side.
Lindsay told me one day that she heard of a potential space for us. She told me about her friend Camille who was getting ready to let go of part of her business space. She was looking to streamline her operations, and getting rid of the boutique arm was part of that process. The space wasn't even officially "on the market" - Camille was helping the landlords find a new tenant through word-of-mouth.
Lindsay went on to tell me how the boutique already has its own production space, complete with a deep commercial kitchen sink. I went online to look at more pictures and nearly passed out from excitement. I set up a time to meet Camille & see the space.
The moment I drove up, I knew this was THE PLACE. Seeing the inside confirmed my gut feeling. Plus Camille is a freakin' joy and she made me feel so at home.
As I was leaving, Camille told me that there was someone else ahead of me "in line" for the space, and we would know his final decision within a couple of days. She then put me in touch with the realtor/broker, Joe. A few days went by, then a few weeks. I thought all hope was lost until Joe gave me a call to let me know that the other person passed on the space. It was mine! We set up a meeting to go over everything.
I show up to our meeting and Joe says, "Well, there's a problem." One hour before our meeting, someone else with ties to the building asked for first right of refusal. Joe was frustrated on my behalf and we bonded over the rollercoaster of the whole situation.
After the meeting, I texted Camille and she called right back, assuring me to keep my chin up and that things could still work out. On Camille's advice, I sent Joe an email saying that if anything fell through, I was still interested. I went home, resigned to the probability that this just wasn't going to work.
24 hours later, Joe calls, "Well, stranger things have happened, but the space is yours now." Lindsay was with me when we got the call and we exchanged high fives and "f*ck yeahs," but I was cautiously optimistic since so many other things had fallen through. Only when I got word that the owners were on board did I feel overwhelming relief.
There were a million ways that this deal would've never happened. But ultimately, there were a million and one other ways that it did. In addition to all of the luck around hearing about & finally securing the space, here's what else was at play:
- Had I not hired Lindsay and experienced all the difficulties with my current space, I would have never heard about the space. Had Lindsay not been friends with Camille, I would have never have heard about the space.
- Had Camille not become one of my biggest cheerleaders and advisors during this time, I would not have gotten the space.
- Joe & I came to figure out that I used to teach his wife - Suzanne - yoga when I taught in Carytown. She was one of my regulars & she's the best.
- Joe has been friends with the landlords of the building for 70 years. Joe & Suzanne (his wife) vouched for me with the landlords since I am still a small, up-and-coming business. He said, "I told the landlords that this is a no-brainer. My wife agrees. So does Camille." Had the building not been one of the last family-owned spots in Carytown, I don't think I would have gotten the lease.
WHERE MY HEAD & HEART ARE AT
This is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. The way that this opportunity came to me is so unbelievably serendipitous that there is no doubt in my mind that it was meant to happen this way.
I lost my two last living grandparents within the past year, and it's been rough. After all this unfolded with the space, I have a feeling that all of my grandparents got together in the great blue yonder, plotting how they could help me succeed and encourage me to get outside my comfort zone.
I can see them now - my paternal grandfather (who was an entrepreneur himself) as the risk-taking force, the one encouraging me to push the envelope. My maternal grandmother as the moderating, cautious force, helping me plan, prepare, and mitigate risk. My maternal grandfather as the quiet cheerleader, offering support and strategy. And finally, my paternal grandmother who I never met, and who has gifted me her inimitable grit and strength.
August & September are shaping up to be some of my busiest months ever - prepping to open the shop, keeping up with production heading into busy season, and hiring the right help. If you know of someone who vibes with our ethos, feel free to send them my way via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much for reading and for your continued support. I do not take any of it for granted and I wouldn't be where I am today without any of you.
Until next time,
Founder & HBIC