It's funny how small South Tampa really is, since this month's Dame Debut is actually a blast from my past. We met back when I was but an awkward freshmen trying to live my life through song (pre-Glee era) in my high school chorus. She was a Junior. Most of my memories of her involve her sweet personality, contagious laugh and her being the only one to give me the hint I was singing incredibly too loud, which was a blessing all its own. Like, I was screaming. Needless to say our paths recently crossed again during the Holiday Gift Market and I was blown away by her creativity, passion and a bit biased since she too has an obsession with traditions and namesakes. As a woman after my own heart, allow me to introduce to you the founder of Hazel & Dot.
The Dame Debut Volume 1 Issue 4
Name of Business: Hazel + Dot
Favorite Cocktail: My go-to is Tito's & soda with lime, but I'm always game for trying a specialty cocktail (or 2)
Current Nail color: Smith & Cult Stockholm Syndrome (obsessed! I think I may be single-handedly keeping the new Bluemercury in business with my polish purchases...)
C. & G. : What is your educational & Industry Background?
I graduated from FSU (love my Noles!) with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and moved to Boston to work for Talbots, where I worked in management and visual merchandising. After about eight years in Boston, and during a particularly cold winter, I decided it was time to move back to Tampa. For the past four years I've been working as a skincare buyer at HSN, and discovered a my hidden passion for every beauty product ever made...
C. & G.: Why did you want to start your own business?
If I had to guess I would say I probably made up my mind to open a shop when I was about ten. I grew up spending my summers in North Carolina and on Fridays I would work with my great-aunt and grandma (Hazel and Dot, the namesakes of my store) in an antique shop. And by work I definitely mean tried on jewelry, searched for treasures, and hit up the snack jar. Between those really tough tasks I also caught the bug and decided then and there that I would own a store one day. After almost 15 years working in retail in some form or another I really started to feel the pull toward opening a store that would fill a niche in the area. I mentioned my idea to my parents last Christmas and they encouraged me to pursue my dream, and hazel + dot was born!
C. & G.: What does your business specialize in?
I love finding that perfect necklace or bracelet that you don't see everywhere, and between my accessory obsession and my love for all things HGTV (hello, Fixer Upper) I have collected some really cool pieces that people were always asking about. I decided to translate that passion into a business and help others find the perfect item for whatever occasion or need they have. My goal with the website, and (spoiler alert: store, coming soon!) was to give our customers the feeling of a very comfortable, casual shopping-with-a-friend experience.
C. & G.: What is most important about the career path you have chosen?
To me, it's having a passion for connecting with people and helping them in some way. I know it sounds silly to say we're helping people by offering them something to buy, but the truth is shopping can be stressful and I don't think it needs to be. Retail is a tough business and the behind-the-scenes stresses should be apparent to a customer. I love meeting and connecting with new people, and what better way is there than one-on-one in a store? The most important thing to me is that people enjoy shopping with us, whether it's online, when we deliver their order, or in a couple months when they visit us in the store- it should be fun!
C. & G. : What advice would you offer to others wanting to start their own business?
Just go for it! There will never be a perfect time, and if you sit around waiting, the opportunity will pass you by. And take free advice. Even if someone has a different background or set of experiences from you they may have new insights, and it's free to listen! I've gotten some great advice from the most unlikely sources, you never know where your next great idea will come from.
Hazel & Dot was featured in our Holiday Gift Guide HERE, but check out some of our other favorite items from Hazel & Dot:
We will be checking in with Allison on her continued success and hope to give you a sneak peak of her shop when it opens up in South Tampa!
C. & G.