This is the sixth and final installment of Crystal Magazine’s year-long series highlighting women business owners in Eastern North Carolina. In each issue we plan to feature a different woman and her business experience – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Tell us a little bit about Jame’s and how long it has been open.
Everyone always asks about the name. So to clarify, my name is Jamie but the store is pronounced James. Some of my friends just call me Jame for short. Jame in the possessive form is Jame’s and my dad’s name is James, so it just worked! Jame’s has been open for over seven years. I have always wanted to own my own business. Originally, it was a restaurant/gallery on the water but as my love for clothes grew, my vision changed. In the fall of 2006, we (myself, along with my parents, James & Linda Dickinson) decided to pursue my vision. I worked as a computer graphics technician at that time. I would come home after my day job and work on making my dream job become a reality. Finally on June 1, 2007 it happened. We opened a little trendy clothing boutique and gallery for my artwork. Our goal is to offer something a little different and unique at a reasonable cost. I’ve heard people comment we are a “younger” store but it just depends on your mindset. We have customers of all ages. Most of our customers are looking for everyday casual outfits, game day attire, ladies night out, casual work outfits, homecoming and graduation dresses, wedding or shower attire or just something new and different.
You were pretty young when you opened Jame’s. Do you think that made it more challenging to build your business?
Yes, I was only 24 when we opened the store. I think being that young had some advantages and some disadvantages. At that time social media was really starting to have an impact on our lives. Since I was younger, I was very open to mixing social media and business early on. However, I was young and I didn’t have tons of real world business experience. I had worked in retail, marketing and design but this was “my first business!” Everything relied on me. I was responsible for the success or failure. I feel like because I didn’t have more experience, I did more trial and errors! I have learned so much over the past seven years.
Do you have a mentor – that one person you can always go to for sound business advice?
I wouldn’t say I have one person specifically; I have a family of people! They all offer a different perspective and varying opinions. My parents (and business partners) are always ready to offer their words of wisdom. My husband, brother, friends… Mom – she can see my visions and explores them. Dad – just wants to make sure I have really thought everything through. My husband – makes my visions come to life. Brother – always knows the latest business trends and statistics. Girlfriends – share what they want, what they think. After all, they are my target customer!
You are quite an accomplished artist. What made you decide to open in a clothing store instead of pursuing a career as a full-time artist? How do the two interests overlap? And how do they differ?
I wanted a little more stability. Most people love art, but they don’t typically buy it as much as they would clothing. I felt the combo would give me some stability and still allow me to love what I do! Fashion is art and a form of expression. Art and business both involve a lot of creativity, trial and error, and problem solving. You need to be creative to run a business!
How important is it to be hands on within the business every day?
VERY!!! I have to say, when I was younger I probably didn’t realize how much time it would consume. You eat, sleep, and dream about your business! You are constantly thinking of ways to improve or change something that may or may not be working to its fullest.
You’ve recently made a move – what new challenges come with that and what did you do to ensure a smooth transition?
We moved to Pelletier Harbor Shops in February of this year. I am not going to lie: everything just kind of fell into place for us. The idea of joining a Women’s Destination Shopping Center was presented and we ran with it. We were very fortunate to be able to make the transition during the off season.
What is your favorite thing about doing business in Carteret County?
The people! Locals and visitors! I enjoy catching up with those I see a couple times a year – women who visit the Crystal Coast with the tradition of a shopping trip to Jame’s. The locals, though, form the backbone of my customer base. Their support is vital throughout the year. In appreciation of that support, we participate in charity fashion show events and fundraising efforts here in Carteret County.
If a young woman told you she had hopes of opening a store of her own, what advice would you give her?
It’s a lot of fun! BUT it’s not easy. It is very time consuming and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. The rewards are so fulfilling. When ladies comment on how beautiful my store is and how much they like my selection of clothes, my heart swells with a sense of success. And when a girl finds just the right outfit for her special occasion, I am as delighted as she is!