Cari Jansen opened the FUNKY STUFF the Collective in November of 2015 in the 0ld Pin Shop in Oakville. The idea was to offer spaces to Connecticut artists and artisans where they could show and sell their creations. The shop would be carefully curated, and filled with only high quality locally made gifts, clothing, accessories and fine art all presented in a unique and eye catching way and offered at reasonable prices. It would also be a place where people in the community could take workshops offered by the various participating artists to get a 'hands on" experience with a choice of different art and artisan techniques and mediums. Finally, it was to be a place with a serious commitment to the local community, offering as many fund raising events as possible, with an eye on local animal rescue organizations, Cari’s personal passion.
So with my husband’s kind support, off I went headlong into this dream! In our first year, FUNKY STUFF the Collective gained artists and gained some momentum, we gained customers and our participating artists offered workshops of all sorts to the public. We followed the path I had carved and we raised over $5000.00 for local nonprofit organizations with many different fund raising events. We were growing. It was time to move to a new location! We began to search for the perfect new space.
While we were still looking, we heard about a contest offered by SCORE mentors and Sam’s Club, called THE SMALL BUSINESS CHAMPIONSHIP. We were intrigued. We created our submission, and held our breath. The contest had response from thousands of small businesses throughout the country. Score would be looking for a unique small business with good community ethics. We didn’t really know too much more, except that there would be 102 small businesses selected in the nation.
They liked our concept, they liked our local focus, and our community minded ideas! Much to my astonishment, my little store won! The win offered so many things! First, an all-expense paid 3 day symposium in Dallas where I had the opportunity to listen to the advice and ideas of some of the best and most successful business professionals in the country. I met other winners and heard their stories. It was a wonderful and memorable experience. FUNKY STUFF the Collective also gained a cash prize from SAMS CLUB. We used it to furnish our new, beautiful HANDS ON STUDIO.
I was introduced to my score mentor Tom Schoenemann, who has been working with me ever since. We had a visit from Senator Blumenthal’s office, and got lots of press from the win we are so honored and humbled. Last, we won the bragging rights to call ourselves 2017 SCORE SMALL BUSINESS CHAMPIONS! It has had a huge impact on us within the community, and my business is growing - my dream is coming true!
On May 1st FUNKY STUFF opened its doors in our fantastic new location at 731 Main Street Watertown. Along with the wonderful retail space our new location offers, we also boast our new ”HANDS ON studio" where we offer exciting and fulfilling workshops in everything from stained glass to jewelry making , pottery to kids art classes. We now offer PAINT NITES on the first and third Fridays.
They are going well and have been nicely attended, and are a great addition to our store, generating income and interest.
During the summer we have been busy offering free pop up kid’s events like sidewalk chalk drawing where passersby could stop and experience a little funky magic! We recently hosted a kids book reading circle where one of our participating artists who is also a children’s author read one of her books aloud while sitting in her rocker, with kids gathered at her feet. It was really special. And the moms shopped!
We are geared up and ready to offer daytime team building events where we will partner with a local caterer to offer luncheon packages for businesses looking for a great way to reenergize workplace enthusiasm through art.
We are still coming up with new ideas and ways to keep our community interested, and I feel like we are constantly evolving. It’s exciting and exhausting.