When I walked into the space at Carousel I fell in love. Filled with beautiful items, high-end brands, and editorial pieces, I knew I would no longer need to drive or shop online to find great pieces that I loved. I could access beautiful clothes right here in Redding. Then I met Sam. This woman is fierce, is a driving force in changing the community, and is passionate about seeing people follow their dreams, regardless of age.
It started after I retired. I had a garden center for many years, called Wildtime here in Redding. A very close and dear friend of mine, we ran it for about nine years and then she moved to Alaska. I thought, “This is time I can retire.” I found out I wasn’t ready to retire. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. My son lives in San Francisco and wanted to inspire me. I went down there and he showed me some really cool little places down there and I came back. That was one of my criteria, I wanted to find something in a space with some character. Originally, I was going to have about half clothing and half gifts. Then, more people wanted clothing so I kind of dropped the gifts and went into more clothing. That’s how I got to where I am today. Although I still do love a few gift items, so every fall I try to bring in a few more gift items. Things like the towels, soaps, and things like that.
I had some money saved and I started small. I really and truly did not give myself a paycheck for two years. In order to start a business, if you want to build a business, anything you make you have to put back into it. I’ve been slowly building it. I’ve been open in this location for about 2 and a half years. Carousel’s been in business for a total of 3 and a half years. In order to your business, you have to put every cent you make back into it. Now I’m very comfortable. I’ve got enough stock to sustain me and it’s working. With clothing, I don’t know. I just wanted to have a clothing store. I remember when I was young, 16, my first job was in a department store and I always loved fashion and clothes. It just seemed like a natural thing to do. We lost some of our clothing stores here in town and I thought, “Here’s a niche that’s needed.” I wanted to feature things that were a bit more higher-end, along the same price point as Macy’s. Probably the hardest thing to overcome is the mindset that everything in here is too expensive. It’s really not. I find that I have a variety of good price points that make it accessible to everyone.
I don’t know. I just love quirkiness. I love things that are out of the ordinary. I like to push the boundaries a little bit. I’m hoping that I can push women from Redding. We’re all somewhat set in our fashion. I would like to push that a little bit more. I want people to feel comfortable wearing something that they love, but that they may think, “Well where am I going to wear this?” I have some customers that are extremely fashionable. Some of them don’t have regular jobs. But when they come in to town, they really dress up, and they wear what they love. It shows on them. They are very confident. When you wear clothes that you truly love, you are more confident. You’re more excited to go somewhere and show off. It just feels good. There’s something about fashion and what you wear that feels good. For me, I love wearing torn up jeans. I feel most comfortable in this look, so it doesn’t bother me to wear it. Of course my husband says, “You pay good money for those torn up jeans.” I say, “Yeah. I love it. I just feels good.”
When I left the garden center, I was off for a couple of years. Then my mother had alzheimer’s. My husband and I became her primary caretakers for a few years. Then she passed away. After that happened I had some pretty serious health issues. I had to have two major surgeries just a few months apart.
That took me a couple of years to recover from. It was after that I began to feel a little depressed, wondering, “Is this it?” I’m over sixty and wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. That’s when my children stepped up and said, “Mom you’re not ready for the boneyard yet.” It was my children pushing me a little bit to say, “Come on. You’ve still got a lot in you. Don’t just throw in the towel.”
It’s sometimes not easy to get kickstarted again when you’ve gone through things like that. But I knew I had to do something. Going to San Francisco and being inspired by some really interesting shops, just made me want to come back and it was just this renewed energy to come back and find a place. My first place was on California and Continential Street. I got my inspiration because some of the places in San Francisco, some of the coolest shops, are in the roughest part of town and that has always stayed in the back of my mind. It was rough over there.
I’ve always said, “If I could start my business past 60, in the worst economic times, and probably one of the worst locations in Redding, and if I can make it, I’m hoping I can inspire other people, whether they’re my age and want to start a business or you just have to take a risk in life. You have to step out of your comfort zone and jump off that diving board. It’s like, “I’m gonna give it my best shot. Not to say that there weren’t some times where I would question it. I would be like, “Oh my gosh, why am I doing this?” And I still have those times. Right now our city has a lot of issues and I’m in the news all the time over those issues. Sometimes I get beat up for speaking my mind and it makes me discouraged. I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” But then there’s that part of me, that fight within me, where I’m like, “No. I’m not going to succumb to negativity.” You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward. If I could be an inspiration to people who want to start a business, sometimes you just have to jump in. You do a bit of research and things, but you have to follow your heart. You can’t wait and do what others want. You have to do what you want to do.
Probably more than anything, it would be the role I play in our city issues. My name is out there all of the time. I’ve tried to be involved in the issues. I know a lot of the city councilmen and the Redding Police Department. It’s been a couple of years ago, but I actually ran a post on my Facebook page that had 44,000 views because the community was ready for change. After that post, the Chief of Police called for a town hall meeting and 700 people showed up. It was the pivoting point where Redding citizens wanted change and they were being demanding. It was an acknowledgement of, “Okay, the time has come.” That was two years ago. At this point, we’re all aware of the problems it’s just figuring out how we’re going to solve them. I’ve stayed in contact with the city officials, just to know what is going on. But a lot has taken place since then.
Keep the faith. It’s a roller coaster. The first business I had ran pretty evenly. It was level. You had little ups and little downs. This business has been way up and way, way down. When you’re conscious of the bottom line, it can be very stressful sometimes, but you just have to keep the faith. You know that what you’re doing is what you love and what you want to do. Keep things tight. Like I said for the first two years I didn’t take home a paycheck. Luckily, my husband was able to do that. Now things have come around where I can. The first space I had was probably one-third of this size. When I moved here my husband said, “You’re never going to fill this space up.” Now it’s full. You know that you have to have faith in yourself and know that with hard work, it’s going to pay off.
Carousel is women’s boutique featuring items of whimsy, beauty, and romance for the everyday. Located at 1555 Yuba Street, Redding CA. Open 10:30-5, Tuesday-Sat.