Business partners, Louise Reardon (L) and Jan Patterson (J) opened their clothing boutique, CraZy LadyZ!, fourteen years ago. With locations in Ocean View and West Ocean City, they have established connections and relationships with women all over Delmarva. They take pride in being able to give back to the community, and do so in numerous ways. The pair have been business partners for 27 years and best friends for 30 years. We talked with Jan and Louise to learn a little bit more about their business and what makes their jobs enjoyable.
Q: Tell us about your business.
L: CraZy LadyZ! is a women’s clothing boutique. We have clothing and accessories. Our target audience is women in the range of 40+. We try to provide clothing that is a little bit different – that you won’t see other people wearing, it’s a unique fun and funky look.
J: We carry clothing and accessories from XS to 3X, so we can accommodate women of all sizes. We are open year round and offer clothing, hats, handbags, shoes, and jewelry. We’re noted for our fabulous accessories. We are for the boutique shopper – those who want to look fashionably different.
Q: Why did you start your business?
J: We wanted to create an environment for ladies that would serve as a gathering place; where women could come and feel very comfortable.
L: You’d be surprised at the number of people who walk in, even gentleman, and say its such a happy place.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a business owner?
L: It’s in contrast to working for someone else and working in a big city area. When we moved here we found that we could be part of the community. When you drive away and work some place else, you don’t have that connection. So we have so many local women and customers who we’ve become friends with; and we can participate in so many community events, which is a really important thing to me.
J: When you’re a business owner, there is a lot of pressure on you – you can control the business, but there is a lot of pressure. Our motto is “we’re only as good as the last sale” or “we’re only as good as the last customer that comes in.” Our reputation is extremely important to us and feedback is extremely important to us. To continue to provide offerings that are unusual or different is a lot of pressure year after year. We hand-pick all the clothing in the store.
L: When we go to market to buy the clothing and accessories for the store, we’re always thinking, “will people respond to this?” and you’ve got to be right within the ninetieth percentile, and you really want to keep your customers in mind and do what is best for them.
J: There are several different levels of owning a business. There are some business owners who are silent – you never see them and never know who they are. We are a very active part of the business because we care, and because hearing “thank you” from our customers is what makes us grin from ear-to-ear.
Q: What is your main role in the everyday operations of the business?
J: I am responsible for all the buying, event planning, sales, marketing, merchandising, working on the floor. Louise is responsible for handling all the financial aspects. She is also actively involved with the customer, but we have very defined roles.
L: I always think of it as, Jan buys and I pay.
Q: What do you envision for the future of your business?
J: One of the things we’ve recognized is the importance of a web presence.Our website is an accessories only site, and it takes a lot of work, but where we really want to strengthen ourselves is on the social media side.
Q: What education or experiences did you have that prepared you for owing a retail store?
L: Because Jan and I had previous business experience and responsibilities for the financial side of business as well as marketing, when we took on a retail store we took it on as a business, not a side job – it is our livelihood.
J: A majority of our ladies have been with us since we opened our doors. We truly run it as a business and take it seriously. On the customer side, we believe in treating every customer fairly and the same, and we truly believe they are all special.
L: I think we learned a lot of that because we had a long history of business before we began our retail store.
Q: How do you measure business success?
J: For us it is measured in a number of ways; repeat customers, our numbers continue to grow, our reputation – we enjoy giving back to the community. One of the things that always makes me smile is customers wanting to be a part of us and our events year after year.
Q: As 7 year Chamber member, why do you continue to renew your Chamber membership?
J: We want to be part of the community. There’s a tremendous amount of people that visit the chamber and it looks good to have our name in there – and from a business point of view, anytime you can get your name out there, it is terrific.
Q: Why did you choose the name “CraZy LadyZ!”?
J: Because there is a little bit of crazy in all of us!
To see all that CraZy LadyZ! Has to offer, visit them at 9 Atlantic Avenue, Ocean View, or at crazyladyz.com.