Jessica Williams loves the thrill of it. She loves the challenge of walking into an expensive store and walking out the door the proud owner of an item that cost a fraction of its regular price.
“I’m a professional shopper, and I’ve been doing it about 25 years,” said the 37-year-old. “My mom used to give me money to go downtown, and me and a girlfriend would go shopping on the weekends. We were about 15. It just gives me such a rush to shop and get a bargain. I’m really good at that.”
Williams is so good at shopping that she decided to make a career out of it, and began selling sterling jewelry to family and friends about four years ago.
That morphed into an online boutique in October 2007, and on June 28 from noon to 6 p.m., she will hold court over the next phase of her ultimate shopping experience–the grand opening of her boutique Tinashe.
“Tinashe (meaning ‘God be with you’ in the Shona language) is a specialty boutique with one-of-a-kind restored vintage handbags, and handmade Murano glass jewelry. We also have designer handbags, shoes, and sterling silver jewelry,” explained Williams, whose shop also carries Jessica Simpson shoes and handbags and Carlos Santana shoes for women.
“I always wanted a store front. I was looking around all over the city for a nice place for a boutique. I would say to myself, ‘I’ll decorate it like this or like that,’” Williams remembered.
She found what she thought would be the perfect backdrop for her boutique in the heart of Leimert Park–Lucy Florence. But there was just one problem; there were no availabilities.
So she asked Ron and Richard Harris, the twin brothers who own the eclectic Leimert Park Village cultural spot, for permission to hold one-day sales at the location. The answer was yes.
“It was through prayer, and guidance from the Holy Spirit. It was a way I wanted to connect with my customers. With the online boutique, I didn’t get a chance to interact with customers, to meet them and give them an opportunity to actually see the product (first) as opposed to just seeing it online. They could also get them at discounted prices,” explained Williams of how she came up with the one-day sales concept.
Consistency paid off, when a spot in Lucy Florence called The Boardroom opened. Williams snapped it up, and using a $14,000 small business loan she obtained with help from a consultant connected with the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation, she bought stock and moved in.
At Tinashe, do not expect the ordinary, said Williams.
” . . . I’m always looking for unique things to go into the boutique. I love vintages, and I’m always going to have something vintage,” said Williams who finds and restores purses from the 1920s and on. Her Murano glass from the Venetian island of the same name, includes hand-crafted hearts, rectangles, and other items.
But Tinashe is just her latest step. Williams ultimately sees herself starting a branded clothing line, and is already in the research and development stage for a men’s and women’s jean line. She is also planning to add vintage men’s cuff links and wallets to the product mix.
However, while all that is in the making, Williams intends to enjoy her latest endeavor–showing off her love of vintage bags to customers face to face.
For more information on Tinashe, visit their website at www.shoptfa.com.