When 9-year-old Lila Skolnick walked into Trendmat, a 28 square foot micro-boutique in Millwood, she was thrilled to discover the jewelry in the new store.
“It was really cute,” Lila said of the store’s offerings, from handbags and belts to bracelets and earrings.
As Lila browsed through the accessories, something she was wearing caught the store owner’s attention.
“I immediately noticed that she had this arm full of bracelets, almost up to the elbow,” said Sarah Shapiro, owner of Trendmat. “And they were interesting, and they were beautiful and there were so many of them.”
Lila said: “It’s just fun how you can learn to express yourself through bracelets.”
Soon the duo started talking. It was then that Shapiro realized that his pint-sized client had made many colorful bracelets herself. Not only that, Shapiro learned that Lila had also sold a few of her own pieces in a few locations and via Booked Parties at the Jefferson Valley Mall.
“She has such a sense of style and when she walked into the store she was so excited about the merchandise,” said Shapiro, who immediately offered the micro-entrepreneur the opportunity to host a “pop-up” in his micro-shop. . “She kind of reminded me of myself at that age.”
For Shapiro, who opened Trendmat in April, Lila’s taste was a perfect match for the demographic she was trying to reach.
As a mother of two boys aged 7 and 3, Shapiro said she is keenly aware of the need for stores selling small gift items for birthdays and other special occasions.
“We have a lot of birthday parties. We have to buy gifts and we want to buy local, ”she said.
So earlier this year, when she noticed the kiosk with a “For Rent” sign – it was once a Fotomat – at Millwood Plaza, she had an idea.
“I love the accessories. I thought this space would be big enough for fun items for girls and women, ”Shapiro said.
So asking Lila to do a “pop-up” seemed like a natural fit, she said.
“She’s so trendy. One of the big jewelry trends is retro jewelry, ”Shapiro said. “There are all these adults walking around right now with woven rope bracelets and bead bracelets with their names on them. All the big companies have them.
Lila, a fifth-grader at Seven Bridges School in Chappaqua, got into jewelry making with her mother when she was 7.
Her mother, Heather Skolnick, said she helped Lila set up a spreadsheet so she could track her sales and which items were most popular.
“She could track how much money she was making and she could see how much of what she was selling. Then she has to turn around and reinvest in the materials she needs, ”said Heather Skolnick, who also runs an Instagram account for her daughter at @dreamjewelrybylila
Big dreams in small spaces
Shapiro said that seeing the space, she was inspired by an old Massachusetts photo booth turned into a coffee shop.
“I remember thinking ‘what a clever use of such a small space!’ Shapiro said. “Most of those that still exist are either cigarette shops or locksmiths. “
She said she imagined the store feeling like “raiding your best dressed friend’s closet.”
It is full of accessories headbands, bows, scrunchies, bags, shoulder straps as well as costume jewelry at affordable prices.
“I’m a mom in this community so I know what people are looking for when shopping for themselves or when shopping for guests,” Shapiro said. “I just went looking for some big factories that were the right price where maybe you buy a gift but it’s so reasonable that maybe you also get one for yourself.”
In addition to going to trade shows at the Jacob Javits Center, Shapiro also sources from local entrepreneurs such as 100 Percent Beads and Jessie Rubin Art, run by Moms Chappaqua. The store’s opening hours, which for now revolve around her children’s schedule, are open a few times a week. Shapiro posts hours on his Instagram account at @trend_mat.
Lila’s pop-up, which took place on October 26, proved to be a big hit for both the small entrepreneur and Shapiro.
“So many of her friends and people from the community came out to support her, and they also walked through what Trendmat had to offer, so it was awesome,” Shapiro said. “It was mutually beneficial.”
“It was fun,” said Lila, who turns 10 in November, of her Trendmat experience. But it’s not just business: Lila donates 10% of her profits to the Briarcliff SPCA.
What does it feel like when people buy his designs?
“It’s really nice because it means they really liked it and they want to own it.”
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy covers Women and Power for USA Today Network Northeast. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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