Mother-daughter duo Jane and Katie Jennings bring gifting inspiration to town at Thistle be Perfect
What made you decide to open a gift shop?
Katie: I worked at another, similar store for more than eight years. I slowly grew into a manager role where I was doing inventory, buying, and handling customer service. I was really shy when I got into costumer service, and this opened me up and got me out of my shell. It was thrilling and exciting for me. I knew I wanted to continue the journey and doing it with my mom would be fantastic. I wanted to bring the passion I’d built for the business to my own shop in West Chester.
Jane: My background is not in retail, but we’re a family of entrepreneurs, and I’ve been doing consulting work running my own business for years, and I’m always interested in learning. With Katie’s experience in supply chain and merchandising, I thought she could take the lead running the store, and with my experience I could run the back end.
How’d you decide on what you’d be carrying?
Katie: My goal in all of this was to make sure we had something for everyone, with a variety from style to price point. We even have a section for men, so when ladies come in with their significant others, they can browse, too.
What are some of the most popular items?
Katie: There are so many, like handmade pottery, or jewelry from delicate designs to statement pieces. We have scarves, accessories and handbags, plus an entire spa section with lotions and soaps and candles. It’s all small-batch work from small companies.
That sounds like a lot to manage!
Jane: We carry 50 different artists right now, and everything is handmade, and 10 of the artists are local. We are constantly looking to increase the number of local artisans, so we welcome artists to come by and bring their collections. More often than not we end up buying something when an artist stops in, so, “Send local artists our way,” is what we’re always telling people.
Why West Chester?
Katie: I grew up here — I went to Glen Acres Elementary, I attended WCU, and I lived on Miner Street. I appreciate the walkability and how everyone is so friendly. It’s such a close-knit, supportive community, and I love how the town itself offers something new with each turn; it seems there are never-ending possibilities. We wanted to be a bigger part of this community.
Do you feel that’s working?
Jane: Absolutely. Once a month we always have a special night that’s a benefit to the community. Recently we had “Date/Boo/Bae/BFF Night” where we served wine and charcuterie, and we had 10% off the entire store. We also recently partnered with Chester County Hospital’s prenatal division and did an event along with Phineas Gage and Tish where we collected wipes, diapers and formula, and we donated 10% of our sales.
Is the mother-daughter dynamic working out?
Katie: At first we went a little crazy with buying…
Jane: [laughing] …I wanted to try buying, but what I bought didn’t sell! So I turned it back to Katie, and what she buys flies out the door.
Katie: We have a lot of fun together and have always been best friends. Of course there will be moments of stress, but we love each other’s company and sharing this experience together is amazing.