Welcome to our Local Yokel blog! Each month, we will be highlighting a local New York business that we know you will find inspirational. You’ll learn tidbits such as how they support the local community and economy, their advice and reflections on being business owners, tips on work-life balance, and even what some of their favorite products are. We hope you will enjoy getting to know them as much as we have!
This month, we are excited to highlight Eva Dorsey and Jane’s Exchange
Tell us a little about your company’s background (your background, your job, how you/your company got started, what makes you tick or anything else you think our Mommybites moms will find interesting).
I started Jane’s Exchange in 1993 when my daughter was 9 months old. I had been teaching part time at a local college and made the decision to do something else after my daughter was born. As a single mom, I wanted work that would allow me to spend as much time with her as possible. I read an article in the NYTimes about several consignment stores on the upper East Side. After visiting several of them, I decided that we really needed a children’s consignment store in the East Village and it could be done with relatively little capital. 5 months later, I opened Jane’s Exchange. This was 19 years ago.
One of my favorite customers, Gayle Raskin, joined me as partner 13 years ago. We are in our 3rd location in the East Village. We have watched neighborhood children go from diapers to college and learn along the way that recycling is good for the environment. Aside from making a living (meager though it is) the rewards of serving and working with the local community have been extremely rewarding.
How does your company impact or affect NYC’s local economy? What things does your company do to integrate itself into and support the local community?
We are the only children’s consignment in the neighborhood. People come from all five boroughs and beyond to shop at Jane’s Exchange. The store brings families to the neighborhood and even tourists visit on a regular basis. We are extremely community involved, from donating items, money and gift certificates, to local school and community fundraisers, to supporting small businesses through our established website and newsletter.
What is your best piece of advice for other local business/companies?
The East Village is a small, but very dynamic and diverse community. We all understand that it’s very expensive for a small business to advertise. Word of mouth is extremely powerful and getting involved with the community is the best way to make your business known.
What is the hardest and/or best part about owning your own business?
The hardest part in owning your own business is going out on a limb and trying new things. Some work, some don’t. The best part of owning your own business (especially with a partner) is that schedules can be made to give you time off when it is needed—you have responsibilities with your own business, but also certain freedoms.
If you are sole owner of the business, do you wish you had a partner?
I am very happy to have a partner – one who I like , trust and respect.
If you have a partner, what advice can you give to those looking for a partner – i.e., what qualities should you look for?
I don’t think it is necessary to be best friends. It helps if partners compliment each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses and then are able to respect those strengths and weaknesses in the other.
Any tips on balancing life and work?
Get a partner! It means less income but it gives you more time for your family and it is great to have someone to share in decisions and successes, as well as failures.
What are some of your favorite products?
Since we are a resale/consignment store, we get in all sorts of great parenting items. We are always happy to get in the popular items like the Ergo baby carrier, Phil and Ted portable crib, Maclaren carriage and a huge assortment of children’s toys and clothing. Our used maternity clothing and products are turning out to be as popular and we are working on building up this part of our business. Maternity clothing is quite expensive new and used for only a short period of time. More and more women are appreciating the value of gently used maternity and nursing gear.
If you are looking for moms to help you with your business, either full or part-time, how can they get in touch with you?
Gayle and I are able to cover all our hours because we split the week. However, there are times when we need someone else here. We are very lucky as we have a woman (mother of twins) who has been able to help us out. She might get full time work soon, however, and it would be great to know if there was someone who might be willing to take her place as a “fill in” person.
For further information or to reach out to this month’s “Local Yokel”:
“While small businesses may not generate as much money as large corporations, they are a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of local economies. Small businesses present new employment opportunities and serve as the building blocks of the United States’ largest corporations” 1