I thought it would be fun to share a little bit more about PB&J Boutique with you! I interviewed Erica (who owns PB&J Boutique with her husband, Martin) to learn more about her and the inspiration behind PB&J Boutique. I’m sure many of you have met Erica, and know that she’s just the sweetest person She also shared some of her favorite outfit picks in the store right now.
What is your career background?
For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Preferably kindergarten, as I just love how honest kids are at that age. Not only do you have a job that’s beyond rewarding, no matter how bad a day you are having, you get around kids and they make you change your outlook. They simply brighten up your day! I graduated with a degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Humanities and a minor in Marketing.
All through college I worked at a darling children’s store called the Kat’s Meow located in the heart of downtown. I attended buying trips with the owner and learned the ins-and-outs of the business. As I got closer to graduating from college, I decided that maybe someday in the future I would come back to being a teacher, but for now I was going to pursue the world of marketing. This led to me and my partner in crime, Martin, moving to the Napa Valley to pursue a career in the wine industry. I ended up working for a well established winery located on the Silverado Trail called Clos Du Val. I met so many wonderful people who took me under their wing and taught me so much about the industry. I loved the energy there towards closing since we were the last place open on the way back into Napa. I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and worked in such a beautiful place. However, Chico was calling us back, so we packed up and moved to where we now call home so we could be closer to family and our amazing Bidwell Park.
With the dream of starting my own business, the idea of PB&J Boutique quickly became a reality. Many of you might not know that PB&J Boutique began in my poor husbands office! It quickly grew though, much to his relief, when we moved into an office of our very own. We were an online boutique, but we were still open by appointment for all the Chico shoppers. We decided early on that a larger space was truly needed. We now have an amazing location that suits us perfectly where we can ship merchandise around the world as well as provide the ladies of Chico with a warm and welcoming shopping experience.
Where does the name PB&J come from?
I have had the opportunity of working along side of some pretty savvy business women. First and foremost, my Mom Paula. She is the P in PB&J and has owned her own cleaning business since I was in my early teens. She is an amazingly talented woman that has established a name for herself and takes great pride in what she does. I look up to her not only as a business professional, but as the most kind and generous person I know. She always treats people the way she wants to be treated and all of her clients have become like family to her. She puts her whole heart into all aspects of life and believes in hard work, honesty and dedication. I always say I get my work ethic from her, but to be honest I don’t think I could ever work nearly as hard as she does. From sun up to sun down, she is a doer and it’s why she has been so successful in business.
The B in PB&J stands for Barbara who owned Crescent Country which is where I had my very first job. She was a woman with so many talents. She owned a beautiful rustic Bed & Breakfast called the Crescent Hotel located in Crescent Mills. People would come from miles around to eat at the restaurant that was part of the B&B, and boy let me tell you, she could cook! Not only did she run both businesses, she and her daughter Lisa opened up Crescent Country right across the street. It’s a place of beautiful antiques mixed with lovely new gifts. Christmas time was extra special; the store closed for a few days, and was transformed by many friends who came together to help decorate the shop into a winter wonderland. It was a place filled with so much love and many fond memories. Barbara sadly passed away not long ago, but will always be remembered by so many and for sure by me. I so admired her and how she ran her business, and like my Mom, she was a lady that was thought of by many of her customers as family. Crescent Country is now ran by Barbara’s daughter Lisa who is keeping with the traditions of her Mom. She has brought in some wonderful new lines and the shop looks gorgeous!
The J in PB&J is from Jill who owns Kat’s Meow located in downtown Chico. I helped Jill manage her store for many years and she taught me how to run a business. I met so many of the local shoppers through her store and learned how important it is to get to truly know your customers. Every town is so unique and shopping habits vary such a great deal. As a business owner, you need to listen to the needs of your customers and that was something Jill does so well. Kat’s Meow is a store that delights the eye and the clothing is always beautiful. I have to say one of my favorites about working there was getting to watch children grown with the store. You would have Mom’s come in just finding out they were pregnant and years later you were helping the child get ready for their first day of school. A store like Kat’s Meow is a place where once again you get to meet people from all walks of life and be a part of your customers lives.
With these three ladies in mind I came up with the name PB&J Boutique. Some may joke about the name which I guess it does make it easy to remember. However, putting all jokes aside, Paula, Barbara and Jill were/are the three successful women in my life that have had a tremendous influence on me and have molded me into the person I am today. They have taught me everything from how to merchandise, buy, market, and most importantly how to treat your customers and employees.
What inspired you to open PB&J Boutique?
Well, for those of you that don’t already know me, I have an absolute love for shopping! Why not own a business where I can put a passion into a career?
What does an average day look like for you?
With owning your own business, it seems that it’s always on the brain. I wake up, grab a cup of coffee and jump on my computer to answer any important emails right away. It can be anything from placing re-orders with companies, answering customer questions, chatting with bloggers, or sample requests from magazines. From there, after putting together a PB&J outfit for myself (of course!) I’m off to the shop to pack orders and help all of our wonderful local customers find exactly what they are looking for.
I have to say I’m pretty lucky that I have an amazing group of very talented women that I have the opportunity to work along side of. Together we tackle the daily retail chores, help our delightful customers find that perfect outfit or gift, create content for all social media accounts, develop marketing strategies for both online as well as for our local community and one of our favorites is brainstorming photoshoot ideas. We work with an amazingly talented photographer, Diane Nicole Photography – she simply gets our crazy ideas!
I met Diane many years ago now, and the moment I met her I knew that I just had to work with her. Our photographer was moving to the East Coast and Diane happened to come in looking for a few outfits for a photoshoot she was doing. She is now a key member of our team and meets with us weekly for photoshoots that we do in our in-house studio where we photograph our new merchandise for all the world to see. We have a beautiful group of women that model for us and the days we do photoshoots is a day full of dress-up.
Owning PB&J is never boring by any means and I absolutely love the creativity it brings to my life.
What is the best part of your job?
I think one of my favorite things about owning PB&J is making women feel good about themselves. We are a boutique that wants the customer to leave feeling better about themselves then when they walked in. It’s no secret that the ladies of PB&J Boutique are kind and sincere. I feel that’s translated to our customers the moment you step into the store. We are here to help or answer any questions about the merchandise, but want you to have a peaceful shopping experience void of any pushy sales pitches. I want my customers to shop the way I like to shop. We bring in items that make you look good and being a super freak about texture, it’s alway going to feel amazing, too! We carry a wide array of price points and appeal to a wide age group as well. We always love hearing our customers say, “I always get so many compliments when I wear what I got from PB&J!” We are so thankful for our customers and appreciate the love and support they bring to us!
Any advice for small business owners?
A bit of advice that I think is so important is to start small and let your business grow naturally. Many companies begin a business and let their spending get out of hand. Budgeting for each month is key to staying afloat and remaining in business.
What are your hobbies?
Gardening, hiking with my hubby and Miss Bee (Our Lhasa Apso) , antiquing and yes…shopping!
What are some trends you see coming for the spring/summer?
Stripes are huge for Spring as well as 70’s inspired apparel. Another fun trend that screams spring are the florals which are my favorite. You will see an array of silhouettes with splashes of flowers throughout the entire garment.
Erica’s favorite outfit picks!
Cosmic Chain Pink Pearl Necklace, Sand Mix Lace, Belleville Ankle Boot
The Simple Life Tee, Axl Scorpion Denim, Kendra Scarlet Top, Bison Boots
Thanks for stopping by and happy shopping!