OTTAWA — Growing up in a family of business owners, Alivia Croy has wanted to be an entrepreneur nearly all her life.
On Friday, the 23-year-old finally got the chance to make her own mark on the business world.
Croy has opened Signature Look Boutique, a new retail store located at 240 E. Main St. downtown. The shop specializes in casual-contemporary clothing, accessories and gifts tailored to women and girls.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” said Croy, a Leipsic native who now lives in Ottawa. “It runs in my family, so being around it my whole life is what made me want to do it. That was my inspiration.”
Before opening her own shop, Croy spent five years working for her parents at Signature Design paint store. She said the experience not only showed her how to run a business, but it also allowed her to break out of her shell.
“I used to be really shy, but when I did that I started to get comfortable being around people,” she said. “Now people can’t get me to stop talking.”
Along with Signature Design, her family also owns Schroeder Masonry in Leipsic. Croy’s aunt and uncle own Touches from the Heart, a cafe-restaurant and gift shop in Glandorf, and her brothers own businesses throughout the area.
“It’s in my blood,” Croy said with a laugh.
When the opportunity to open her own business presented itself, Croy was quick to capitalize. She described it as a “do or die” moment.
“I figured that if I don’t do it now, I may never do it,” she said. “It was the perfect opportunity, and here we are today. I couldn’t be happier.”
At Signature Look, Croy sells women’s casual clothing that ranges from dresses and jackets to shoes and vests. She also sells jewelry, handbags and other accessories, as well as gift items.
“I really think that when you walk in here, you’re going to be able to find something you like,” she said.
The decision to open a boutique, Croy said, centered around her desire to offer unique products that allow women to feel confident and beautiful.
“Boutiques are always known to be very unique, so I want people to embrace their own uniqueness,” she said. “That’s the whole goal of this store — to be different, and to let every woman who comes in here feel confident in themselves.”
Croy said part of what makes her store unique is the fact that she carries plus-size clothing. She said many women have told her that it is difficult to find plus-size clothing that looks good, so she felt she could help fill a void.
“Even some of the boutiques in the surrounding area that advertise they have plus sizes, when you go in there it’s either not there or they only have one item,” she said. “We have two racks, and if it does well, we’re going to expand over time.”
The boutique owner said she also likes to carry items from companies that have unique back stories. She mentioned that one of the brands uses recycled material from the U.S. military to create makeup bags, beverage coozies and more.
“It helps support our military and it’s something unique,” she said. “You don’t see that kind of stuff around, and that’s what I strive for.”
Though Croy did not expect to be a 23-year-old business owner, she’s excited to make the most out of the opportunity, and to use her platform to help women feel good about themselves.
“What I’m trying to portray is that every woman should feel beautiful because she deserves to,” she said. “I want them to come in here and know that.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.