Female-owned small businesses’ thrive at pop-up shops on Staten Island.

Inspired by last summers events surrounding George Floyd’s murder, Katherine Zarou started her business, Kat’s Cozy Chaos. In the midst of the pandemic, she says, “ I started with candles for donations for the Black Lives Matter movement, and that’s what started my business”. Although the intricate details of making her candles, inclusive of adorning charms and crystals, is time consuming she is currently attending school and working as well. “ I do find myself getting a busy schedule, but I love it so much I have to keep going”. The candles she sells are made with soy wax, sometimes she uses beeswax and rarely gel wax. Her most recent collection is called Balance, which consists of four candles. Each candle in this collection contains herbs and crystals specific to the intention of the candle. Grounding, intuition, cleansing, and manifestation are what these candles are believed to help you achieve. “ The best seller from that line is the manifestation candle, people really love the cinnamon scent, and the calendula flowers”.

Nature lover turned artist, Samantha Zarou, would collect flowers on walks and felt the need to preserve them. “ I learned how to preserve them in resin and it lead to this”, her shop, Day Triipper Creations. Zarou started her business just about two years ago by capturing nature’s beauty in handmade resin creations such as incense holders, trays, trinket dishes, suncatchers, and more. She sells wire- wrapped crystals as well. “ I would say creating the actual art is the hardest part, because a lot goes into it, it’s a process to make each thing”, she says. “ Staying consistent, it can be difficult, sometimes life gets in the way”. Balancing creating pieces with work and school may be the hardest part but she pushes forward. Zarou has many items to choose from when you visit her shop. Suncatchers and daggers are currently her best sellers.

Jayde Villeroel has always been creative and started baking cakes during quarantine as a way to stay busy. “ Actually, my first, I was doing cakes and I baked it for my boyfriend’s grandmother and then I started baking constantly”. Villeroel began posting her creations on Instagram and Facebook where people began to ask if she sold them, and so Lunar Love Cookie Co was born. “ In some ways I’m thankful for it (Covid 19 Pandemic), even though I missed out on a bunch of moments and stuff, I wouldn’t have had this. I wouldn’t have thought about it”, says Villeroel. “ I wasn’t a baker before quarantine”.

Her best seller at this time are her cookie kits, complete with twelve cookies, icing, and sprinkles that customers can decorate on their own time.

Lunar Love Cookie Co is a one woman show, so time management can be the most difficult. “ If you’re doing it solo like I am, it’s a lot of time by myself staying up late past when everybody else falls asleep”, she says. “Staying up doing paperwork by myself, finances by myself, going to the store and buying everything by myself, it’s a lot of putting things in order, it’s a lot”. She currently offers a Halloween cookie decorating class, which runs two hours long and is kid friendly. “If that one goes well, I plan on doing them for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, all the holidays”. Villeroel plans to do private bookings for birthday parties and events in the future.

Due to boredom of quarantine mixed with being inspired by her father’s past design work for Home Depot, Crafted by Caitlin came to life. “ One thing lead to another, I started doing clothing, then I saw cups and blankets. I was so bored, I had to do something”, she says.

Lally dyes each image into the cups so it doesn’t peel off or scratch. “It’s on there for good”, she says. The drinkware started out being the color white, then the image is dyed into it and baked on in the oven.

Lally talks about the difficulties of running a business and how orders can ebb and flow. “ You don’t get orders everyday, and it’s hard to stay positive when a week goes by and you haven’t gotten an order and you think, ‘should I just quit’. It’s hard to keep the orders coming, that’s the hardest part”. Despite difficulties, inspiration keeps flowing.

Caitlin’s chunky yarn blankets were inspired by TikTok videos. “ I just wanted one for myself, but then when I started making it, I posted it on my business page and it got a lot of traction”, she says. “ Everybody wanted one, and well I love making them, so why don’t I just make them and sell them”.

Attending these pop-up shops has created an uplifting community for everyone involved, as well as a great way to support women, and promote women supporting each other in a regularly male-driven business world.

Photography, interviews, & review by Cristine Trimarco

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