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Down economy helped entrepreneur reinvent herself

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Earrings are displayed on a jewlery rack Wednesday at Carolina SoCo in Nashville.

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BY COREY DAVIS
Staff Writer

Friday, November 17, 2017

Crystal Jackson vividly remembers the unstable economy.

Jackson lost her full-time job in March 2016. She worked in direct sales for 10 years, selling women’s accessories for a company called Miche Handbags before it went out of business.

Ironically, Jackson said, she became unemployed right around the same time she received her personal stylist license in an effort to provide another service to a customer base she built through her time in direct sales.

But Jackson’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop there. She started an online women’s clothing boutique last year, and as the business grew, she saw a need for a storefront.

“I realized that I was doing a lot of one-on-one meetings with people to try stuff on,” Jackson said. “For clothing, depending on how it’s made by the manufacturer, everything fits differently.”

For six months, Jackson sold items at the Tar River Flea Market on South Wesleyan Boulevard. But Jackson soon found a building in Nashville and signed a lease in July.

After doing some work to the building, Jackson opened Carolina SoCo Boutique in August. The boutique, located at 4709 N.C. 58 South near the Sandy Cross intersection, is easy to overlook, Jackson said.

“I’m in a location that admittedly is taking people a little bit of time to know, and it’s going to take time for people to recognize what it is,” Jackson said. “It’s in a spot that’s well traveled, but people flying by on their way to and from work might not notice it.”

The tagline of Carolina SoCo Boutique is “Southern comfort at it’s finest.”

Jackson said most of the clothes in the store are from Los Angeles and some attire in the boutique cannot be found elsewhere locally. Women’s clothes in all sizes are available.

“Our focus is comfortable clothing for women,” Jackson said. “We have stuff for professional women, but our focus is for the busy or working woman and giving them something to transition to and wear when, for example, going to watch her kids’ game at school.”

Carolina SoCo Boutique also sells fashion or costume jewelry, including a handmade jewelry line called “Heatherly” from Molly Crawford, an East Carolina University graduate who lives in Raleigh. Crawford named it “Heatherly” as a tribute to her late mother, Heather Lee Crawford.

“If I can find other small businesses that have local goods, I want to try to support them as well,” Jackson said. “I’m always constantly on the hunt to find something new.”

As a new small business owner, Jackson said it is important to exercise patience and perseverance to grow a business and to be wary of getting into debt.

“With this business, my goal wasn’t to take out a small business loan, and some people do that when they start a business,” Jackson said. “That can be really good, but you’ve got to be really careful.”

Jackson said most businesses need three to five years of growth to be profitable.

“I’m just really trying to identify what are the things that are most important that I need to spend money on to grow my business,” she said.

Jackson also has plans to do home workshops for small businesses and host holiday events. Carolina SoCo Boutique is open from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; from noon to 6 p.m. Fridays; and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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