*Where are you from?I am originally from a very small town called Dyersburg, in the beautiful state of Tennessee! It was so small in fact, that we had one stop light and one stop sign, in the whole entire town, lol! When I was 12 my mother moved us to the state of Georgia! She was a nurse, and had a greater chance of building a medical career in a big city, than in our little bitty town. My aunt, who is a deputy sheriff, lived here in Georgia, and had talked my mother into coming here. I have lived in different areas of Georgia; but I finally ended up in the northeast Georgia Mountains, and it is so pretty. You have the advantages of the big city, but still the closeness and quaintness of the country!
*Tell us a bit about yourself.I am 38 years-young, and I try to live my life to the very fullest extent possible! I am the mother of two wonderful children, whom the Lord has so graciously blessed me with! My daughter, Courtney is almost 8, and my son, Christian, is almost 3 and ½. My daughter has Asperger’s, which is an autism spectrum disorder. I spend a great deal of time helping her overcome her obstacles, and lead a “normal” life. While many people with disabilities feel they cannot do the things they dreamed of, I instill the opposite in my kids.
I never want her to feel “less than.” I work diligently to build her confidence in herself, and know that she can do anything she sets her mind too. Though things might not always be easy, they are always possible. As my great grandmother used to tell me, “Life is not fair, and nothing is handed to us on a silver platter…the world is yours for the taking…if you want something, and are willing to put in hard work to get it…all things are possible.” That is the best lesson she ever taught me, and I have passed these values onto my children. My daughter has played basketball, T-ball, and recently, she just finished her first season of being a cheerleader. It goes to show that all things are possible, if we only first believe!
*How did you decide on your shop name?That is actually a funny story! I have wanted a yorkie dog, every since I was a child. Unfortunately, being blessed with wealthy is not something I know anything about, lol! Although I desperately wanted one, it was always slightly out of my budget. Then, I got the surprise of my life! This past valentine’s day, my fiancé’ came over, and low and behold, he had gotten me a 10 week-old yorkie as my gift…complete with sweet bowls, a bed, a sweater…bows…you name it! To say7 I was shocked, surprised, or happy, would all be an understatement!
As you likely have noticed, both of my children’s names, begin with the letter “C.” So, it was only fitting that the puppy had a “C” name as well. My fiancé’, my kids, and I sat down and decided on her name….Ciara! When I was trying to decide a name for my shop, the kids were fighting over which one of them I could name the shop after. So, I decided to name it after Ciara…thus began Ciara & Company Bowtique!
*Why did you start your business?I have been a crafty person; from the time I was born…it is just an integral part of me. It is something I have never been able to cage; I just have to create things. I have crocheted and knitted for my family for as long as I can remember…Afghans, throws, bed covers, table runners, coasters, scarves, you name it. My family adored everything I make, and in fact my Christmas and birthday wish lists from family members always consisted of things for me to make. So over the years, I began selling some of these things here and there,; but I never really thought of making a business out of it!
Then, my daughter became obsessed, and I do mean obsessed, lol…with hair accessories! I looked around at various shops and stores to find unique items for her…things that were one of a kind, and as special as she is! What I found was many places that seemingly sold the same things…basically “cookie cutter” hair accessories. So, I sat down one day and ordered some supplies to try my hand at making them for her myself. When you are dealing with a child with autism, some things just have to be a certain way, and the only way to control those elements, was to make them myself!
As time went on, I learned more and more styles. I got more and more creative and bold in my designs! As we went places, there were always comments about my daughter’s hair accessories…the store, grocery shopping, school, everywhere. People would compliment them, and ask where they could go buy some. When I told them I made them, they were amazed! As more and more people asked me to make things, I saw a need to put my items in one place, where people could see them, choose, or even ask for custom work! A friend of mine told me she bought handmade items on a site called Etsy, and she gave me the link. I went and checked it out, and fell in love with the community…after getting a good feel for Etsy as a buyer, and doing some leg work, I decided to finally open my shop. The rest is history!
The main thing that I want people to think when they see my products is wow! I want them to see and feel the creativity that goes into each and every piece. I want them to realize that when they shop at Ciara & Company, they are getting a quality product…one that is made with love and care. Not only that, I want them to know that are getting unique accessories…no one wants to have the same thing that 1000’s of other have the same thing of...there is nothing special about that. But at Ciara & Company Bowtique…there is 1, or 2 at most, of each item made…that is it...there will never be more! When people shop my store, they are getting items as unique and special as the person they are buying them for.
*What are 5 things you want people to think when they see your product?
*What are 5 things you want people to think when they see your product?
I also want people to know that I love custom orders. My vision is not as important as the vision someone has for their own one of a kind piece. I want every person to have an excellent shopping experience at my store, to adore their purchase, and to come back for more. Word spreads fast…good or bad…and at Ciara & Company, I do my level best to make sure all of my customers are 200% happy. I want each person to smile, and feel gorgeous, when wearing my pieces. Every girl or woman is gorgeous inside…and we need to pieces to make us feel that…and allow us to show it to the world. That is what I hope to give, that feeling!
*What’s your supply addiction; is there a specific color or type of supply you just can’t pass up?WOW…that is a loaded question, lol! First and foremost, I would say my main addiction is ribbon! I don’t think I could ever have enough! Every time I am shopping and see a new one, I must buy it if at all possible! I have ribbon on top of ribbon. My next addiction as far as supplies go, would be yarn. I love to crochet and knit…so yarn is a must. There are so many styles and types of yarn that you can never have too much! I am a firm believer that if you have plenty of ribbon and yarn on hand, you will always be able to whip something up as a gift for an unexpected birthday or other occasion; and it has been my experience that handmade items are very well received and adored by the receivers, over something that you took 5 minutes to go buy at the store. It shows you care about them, and they appreciate that!
My favorite color, of course, would be pink. I am a pink girl…all day long! I have always loved pink; so anything pink is definitely hard to walk away from. However, the thing that I usually cannot pass up is ribbon or yarn with sparkle...like metallic gold or silver woven into it somehow. I love sparkly things…I think the glimmer makes something simple, into
something very elegant! Rhinestones, is another one…I adore them...if you can’t tell from my designs!
*What do you do when you’re not being an artist? What activities do you enjoy.The main thing I do besides being an artist is be a mom; and it is the best job in the world! I adore my children, and try to spend as much quality time with them as I can. We paint, do latch-hook, beading, and all sorts of fun things! I also spend time helping my daughter overcome her obstacles due to her autism. We do special activities to help her brain function better, and to help her in social situations. I am also working on teaching my son how to read. I also thoroughly enjoy cooking for my family, and have been told I am a pretty good cook…though I would never want to do it for a living.
When I am not creating and taking care of my family, I am a full-time college student. I am working on finishing up my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I currently hold a 3.96 G.P.A., and was just last year inducted into the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, which is a huge honor! I have about 5 more years of school left. I am planning to obtain my PhD, and become a licensed child psychologist. There are many children, like my daughter, who suffer, and due to no insurance, and low family incomes, they cannot get the help they need. The parents struggle alone, not clear on how to best help their child, and the children feel lost in a world that turns their shoulder at them. I am planning to open a clinic, where I offer sliding fee (income based) help for these children and their families. I want to be a part of the solution, and I feel I can make a difference in this world.
*Which item in your shop did you enjoy making the most and why?I cannot say that I honestly enjoyed making any one item in my shop more than another. They all hold a special place, as they are all created from me with all my heart and soul. My favorite item I ever made was an afghan for my mother. My mother has multiple sclerosis, and she stays very cold all the time. I went out and found the heaviest weight yarn I could find, in her favorite colors. I worked non-stop for 2 weeks, and made her a huge afghan. That was ten years ago, and she still has that afghan on her every time I visit. It is her most prized possession. It feels good when you created something with your own hands that means that much to someone else!
*What keeps you motivated?My children are my motivation...in everything I do, especially my daughter! I see her struggle with simple every day things that most of us take for granted…often without a complaint. She never gives up! My grandmother taught me that everything was possible...if you first believe, and are willing to work hard. I want to instill those same values in my children. I want to instill in them to follow their dreams, to believe in themselves, and to work hard. Between school and running my store, I feel I am teaching them the value of hard work, and following your dreams. Nothing in life is owed to us, we have to want it, and be willing to work for it…if we can do those things, the sky is the limit!
*If you could give a piece of advice to a new shop - what would it be?I think the most important piece of advice I could give a new shop, is to be true to themselves. You have to create from the heart, be an original…don’t try to follow what others are doing. I am proud of everything I make, and the person who buys each piece, will feel the same way about it as I do, that it is a treasure, and a special piece. Don’t sell yourself short, and always have faith. It is hard to get started. You have to get your name out there…do promotions, do giveaways…do whatever you have to do, that is an honest way to get your name heard. You have to work hard, if you want success; that is with all things in life.
Secondly, my last piece of advice would be the oldest things that we should all know, yet many forget: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” Be completely honest in all of your listings, never ever lie! If something did not turn out as well as you had hoped…be honest about that, and sell it at a discount price. Treat all of your buyers, like they are the only one you have. They are the heart of your business, and they should feel special and valued. I myself, always send a small thank you gift with every order, as well as offer a discount program and a referral program for my loyal buyers. If you have good customers, make sure you find a way to show them you appreciate it!
Are there other places on the net we can find you?Yes there are: