San Mateo is home to restaurants, bars and chains, but last year it saw the addition of IVY Boutique, a uniquely curated store featuring handmade products from local women.
Owner Chelsey Greene opened the downtown store in November to create space for her jewelry brand that was harder to sell during COVID-19, and she realized other Bay Area women with small businesses had no in-person way to sell, like craft and local fairs, on which many rely.
“So I figured if I am going to solve my own problem, I could also be solving the problem of all these other women,” Greene said.
While Greene owns the boutique, it serves as an outlet for other women who use space within the store to sell their products, with Greene getting a percentage of the sales. The consignment model allows for sellers to maintain ownership of products and have a space curated for them. Items for sale include candles, bath and body products, bags, jewelry, ceramics, necklaces, earrings and kids’ items. Greene said the shop is a collection of affordable goods representing the diversity and categories of products and styles. Located at 55 E. Third Ave., IVY Boutique empowers women by offering a local option that allows the community to know their money is going toward local artists.
Greene was taking her jewelry to craft or wholesale fairs before they closed due to COVID-19. She spent most of the pandemic sitting around as she could not sell in person before opening the boutique. Many artists are affected by slow store sales and the inability to go to fairs, their main meeting place with customers. The store’s opening has allowed her and other local women to sell their goods and not rely on the reopening of large public events.
“That’s awesome for me because every day when I wake up and I go and do this job, which is my personal dream job, I realize that I am creating a solution here, and it feels really good to find my own solution but also creating the exact same solution for other women,” she said.
Greene noted the store has allowed her and others to expand their product options and create new business opportunities by working together.
“People with big ideas have had to pause those things, and I feel really excited that some of the women that I have been working with, including myself, have come up with an entirely new line of products instead of just sitting around and doing nothing and being stressed out,” she said.
Greene originally had four artists sharing the space, but as more women asked for space in the store to show their designs, the number of products sold has grown and now represents 34 different artists. Greene is surprised by the growth and scale, and she thinks more women could be involved if she had more physical space.
Greene grew up in Ohio and studied textile design at Colorado College. She has lived in Tennessee, New York, Miami, Rome and New Zealand before returning a second time three years ago to San Francisco, now her home.
“I feel much more rooted now that this is my life and job, and I love it here in California, and I think being local is very important,” Greene said.
IVY Boutique opened in San Mateo because Greene saw an opportunity to introduce people to a curated store of handmade items from local women. Many types of boutiques are already available in San Francisco, but not as many in San Mateo. Greene believes residents want to hang out downtown and have a unique and local boutique after eating or finishing errands. In addition, many artists with goods available are from the San Mateo area, and all people who sell their products are based in California. Greene believes the store will provide a new curated perspective that can still be diverse, beautiful and come at affordable price points.
“I just didn’t think people on the Peninsula had ever seen an example of it do so well and also so strictly to those values before,” Greene said.
The store has multiple artists from San Mateo and Burlingame who helped introduce her to other local artists, while others are people who Greene got to know over the years at craft fairs. She also reaches out to other artists to provide more well-rounded products.
The boutique opened Nov. 13, with the store opening delayed two weeks to prepare the store. Preparations included sewing curtains, cleaning, painting and building out the interior. Greene only had about a week between finding out the lease was available to signing, noting it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
“So that decision happened insanely fast. From just zero to a hundred. From plain old idea to actual reality,” she said.
Greene continues to think about business improvements and is working on a new website launch and employee expansion plans. She currently runs the store by herself with the help of her boyfriend, and she is looking at hiring women employees with brands at the store. Greene is open to moving to a bigger space if the circumstances are right and is considering multiple stores that would be sister stores or a men’s focused store.
“Lately, I have thought that I’d almost rather open up a different shop that has the same values or similar values but isn’t the exact same store. It could have a different brand name, a different vibe and a sister store to what we are already doing,” Greene said.
Read More: IVY Boutique brings local, women-owned retail to downtown San Mateo | Local News