Wendy O'Neill, owner of Creativity Unpinned, has built a business that gives other creative entrepreneurs the opportunity to own their own business. "We rent out spaces within our store for entrepreneurs to showcase their products," she said. "It's nice because they're able to work within their budget. They can start off with a two foot space and go up from there. We have three, six and twelve month leasing options."
This isn't O'Neill's first go around with this concept. In 2010, she opened her first location in a plaza near by. "The first store was successful, but I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do," she said. "First and foremost, I had none of my vendors on a contract. Now i do. I also only had two price points for renting space. Now we rent by the square foot." After a few years, she closed up her shop and moved out of town to take care of her ailing mom.
A little over a year ago, O'Neill came back to town and did care-giving for a while before launching Creativity Unpinned in April of 2018. The new store is located in The Shops at Wiregrass, but as O'Neill explained, it wasn't exactly move-in-ready. "It used to be a former kids clothing store, but it needed a little TLC," she said. My two sons, Mathew and Austin, and I, did a lot of work fixing up the place, cleaning and sanding the floors. We now have a POS system and never anticipated the time it takes to bar code the thousands of products we already have in the gift store."
After a month in business, all signs point to a successful launch. "On our first night, I had one vendor make enough sales to cover her rent for the entire month," she said. "At least half of our vendors have made their rent in about two weeks of us being open." Overall, the response from the mall and the community has been great.
O'Neill originally sought out her vendors and relied on some traditional forms of advertising to fill the spaces. Today, the vendors are calling her. O'Neill is pretty passionate about the fact that she doesn't let just anyone rent a space in her store. "I look for two things, good quality and someone that treats it like a business," she said. "By treating it like a business they realize the investment they are making to be successful in their businesses. The vendors don't have to be here, but they're encouraged to come as often as they would like. I also want them to focus on their line of expertise. For example, one vendor does soap and jewelry but we keep those in separate areas. We don't want it to look like a flea market. We still have space for additional vendors, but spots are filling up fast."
The future looks very bright for Creativity Unpinned. "We didn't start with the idea of expanding, but in the short time we've been open, we've had a lot of people asking where the next location will be," O'Neill said. "We even had another mall approach us about opening a new location in their mall. For us, the model of operating out of a mall works very well. It's like a family. Your business is independent, but you feel like you're part of something bigger."
O'Neill offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "Do something each day towards achieving your goal," she said. "Everyday won't be the most accomplishing, but take it one step at a time. Prepare and plan and just get out there and do it. We're only given one lifetime. I was inspired by my faith and it keeps me focused on accomplishing my goals."