'I love having women feel good about themselves:' Gypsy Sol Boutique opens in Ravenna

·5 min read

After leaving a 20-year career in health care, Jennifer Catanese asked herself what she could pivot into to make a living. Her answer was to start her own online boutique clothing store

After leaving health care, she asked herself, "What do I know how to do?"

"I don't want to go back to the hospital with everything that's going on so I said, 'I know how to shop — I do a lot of it,' " she said, laughing.

Catanese's experience trawling online clothing boutiques made her confident that she could operate her own.

With her mind made up, Catanese said, she got a loan and began stocking her online store, Gypsy Sol Boutique (not to be confused with the business of the same name in Chagrin), on Aug. 5, 2021.

Recently, she's opened a store front 225 S. Chestnut St. in Ravenna. Since then, Gypsy Sol's business has almost doubled.

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The store is full of jeans, tops and shoes, many of which aren't available outside of boutique stores.

"Judy Blue is our leading denim," Catanese said. "You couldn't go to TJ Maxx or Macy's and find Judy Blue."

In addition to shoes by Bamboo, kimonos by Good Karma and dresses by You Had Me At Hello, Catanese is working on getting Myra Bags into the store.

Every Wednesday and Sunday night, Catanese takes the store live online to stream previews of the new clothes she's stocking.

Most everything listed on the store's website and app is available in-store as well. Some items, like candles and soaps, are only available from the storefront. Catanese is wary of shipping breakables to customers.

Gypsy Sol caters to women 45 to 55

Cananese said she hears the same complaints from customers all the time: Downtown Ravenna is a bit of a retail desert. There aren't many places to shop.

Being one of the few clothing stores in town makes her business unique, she said. What Gypsy Sol offers sets it apart as well.

"My target is 45-to-55-year-old women," Catanese said. She'll be 50 this year and understands that it's hard for women in this demographic to find something to wear. The choices, she said, are often between wearing clothes designed for 20-somethings or clothes designed for much older women.

"It's hard to find that in-between where you still look nice [but] you want to be trendy," she said. "A lot of women come in and say the same that I did: 'I had nowhere to buy clothes and now I do, I'm so excited.' "

Shoppers can peruse Gypsy Sol's app, the best way to shop the store, according to Catanese. Users will get 1% of each purchase credited back into their account for use on their next shopping trip. A link at the top of Gypsy Sol's website takes customers to a page where they can download either the Apple or Android version of the app.

Because Gypsy Sol utilizes a service called CommentSold, all purchases must be made using a credit card. Any shopper with a CommentSold account can purchase something from one of Gypsy Sol's live sales events by commenting "sold" under the item they want to buy. Catanese said that most of her business — inventory, app management, and customer information, for example— runs through CommentSold.

Returns are a simple matter. If the store is at fault, or if something is damaged during shipping, there's a 100% money back guarantee within 14 days of the purchase.

"But say you buy something," Catanese said, "and just don't want that size or decide you don't like it later, it's in-store credit." Returns are few and far between, she added.

Store expands to offer candles, bags, soaps and more

At first Gypsy Sol only offered apparel, but they've expanded their inventory since opening on Chestnut Street.

"Say if you've got a birthday party to go to or something," Catanese said, "you can come up here and grab a candle or a bag, something that size-wise for somebody so that you don't have to drive all the way to Summit Mall."

Catanese is working on getting a line of holiday greeting cards into the shop. The store also sells soap and bath products, and there are plans to introduce a line of skincare products.

Promotional offers are a part of any retail business, and Gypsy Sol is no exception. All last month, Catanese was running a Christmas in July sale, and throughout August teachers get a percentage off the cost of their order.

Nighttime events in the store are coming, too − at first on a trial basis and then more regularly if there's a good turnout. One idea that Catanese has is hosting something she calls a "Sip 'N Shop."

"If you wanted to host a party and have eight of your girlfriends here for your birthday or something and shop, I'll set out some food and wine," she said.

'Being here is a lot of fun'

Catanese has a team of three people helping her to run the store. Two of them, Andrea Collecchi and Angela Kohl, are her cousins. Her friend Stacey Brashier helps out on a regular basis as well.

"I never thought I would enjoy something like this, but I really do enjoy it," Brashier said. "Being here is a lot of fun. We all four get along really good, I love the customers, and just in general — just being here — is my favorite part of all of it."

Catanese greatly enjoys her job as well. She gets so excited to meet the people coming into the store, some of whom are regulars of her online shop.

Making her customers feel confident is important for her, she said..

"I work tirelessly to find clothes that you will feel good in, that you love," Catanese said. "I love having women feel good about themselves."

Contact reporter Derek Kreider at dkreider@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Gypsy Sol Boutique clothing store opens in downtown Ravenna