Owning your own business is a daunting task. There’s the cost, the time, the effort and the overall feeling of what if this doesn’t work? For Jennifer Hinze, new owner of Polka Dots in Old Town, she’s enjoying the ride. In fact, owning her own business was simply the next thing on her bucket list. “I’ve always had a life goal to start my own business by the time I was 40,” says Hinze. “This past summer brought that idea to the forefront; I hurt my foot and I was sitting in the doctor’s office, thinking about it. When I found out that the previous owner was looking to sell, I decided to go for it.” Taking over Polka Dots was quite a change for Hinze, who was previously on an entirely different career path. “I went from working in law for 17 years to owning my own retail shop,” explains Hinze. “This whole retail career is new to me. It’s a big switch. I’ve had to learn everything, from ordering inventory and keeping books differently to figuring out what’s going to draw people in.” Hinze purchased Polka Dots in September, recently reopening the store in early November. The “bead-a-full” boutique is eclectic and charming, full of choices yet not overwhelming. It’s got the right collection of funky home goods and accessories to make the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift for those hard to shop for family members on your list this holiday season. Having her family involved in the business is something that’s important to Hinze. “Owning the store allows me to have my kids in here once in a while when they don’t have school, something I couldn’t really do in my previous line of work,” says Hinze. “They like to help out and it gives me more time with my family, which is great.” Besides helping out at the store, Hinze’s family reminds her that inspiration and creativity can come from anywhere. “My grandmother passed away recently and while I was attending the funeral service, I had a thought,” says Hinze. “I looked around the room and was thinking about how important my family was to me and how I could incorporate some of their talents and how creative they are into what I’m doing.” Keeping her family in mind, Hinze has ensured that Polka Dots has a wide selection of merchandise. From ready-made jewelry to dozens of bead selections, boot socks, candles and holiday gift ideas, there is something for everyone. While making it her own, Hinze wants to make sure that she keeps the original feeling of the store, citing the Chicago city feel as inspiration. “For me, I’ve been thinking of morphing this store into a little something more,” says Hinze. “My thing with Old Town is that it tends to have a mini-Chicago feel to it. And that’s really kind of what I want to push for, to come down and have that one-day unique experience, especially for those people that can’t make it all the way to Chicago. I’m bringing in some new materials to bring a new feel to the store. A lot of the lines in here have done really well, but I’m kind of starting in some different things and waiting to see what happens.” Other ideas have begun to take form too, with turning her boutique into a place where local artists can come to collaborate. “I really want to do things with some local artists and bring in some of their work, more than what’s been done before. The ultimate goal is to provide an art incubator and provide people with a space to put out their own things and showcase them to the public.” To keep up with what’s going on at Polka Dots and find the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift this holiday season, visit polkadotbeads.com.
Kalynne McIntyre is the Digital Branding Specialist at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. She loves action movies, puppies and all things Italian.