Jenny Vickers Chyb, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, has always been passionate about the environment, sustainability, and making things—growing up, she would crochet, and her mom handmade just about everything they had. Later on, they would sell their creations at local markets, and Jenny dreamed of doing her own marketplace that would bring together the beautiful, airy German Christmas Market halls of her childhood with local and regional artists and artisans. And when she spotted Asbury Park Convention Center, a beautiful historic hall on the beach, she knew she had the place to do it. Since the first season in 2013, Asbury Park Bazaar has grown into a popular seasonal marketplace highlighting a community of makers, collectors, and independent businesses with family entertainment, live music, and delicious food. We sat down with this mama of one (who also has a day job at an environmental non-profit) about the aha moment that led to the Asbury Park Bazaar, her newest endeavor that grew from the pandemic, and the Monmouth County beaches that are kid and dog friendly.
Please tell us a bit about your background and your family.
Growing up, I lived in Germany and England but moved to NJ in 2002, right after college, to work for an environmental non-profit. My husband, Joe Chyb, and I have been married for 5 years, and we have a 2-year old daughter, Magdalena. We live in Shark River Hills, a small neighborhood in Neptune Township. My day job is working for the non-profit Clean Water Action. I’m also the founder of Asbury Park Bazaar, a highly curated seasonal market to bring you only the best in handcrafted goods, vintage, art, and music. Recently, we expanded to Long Branch for Host Events and, in the future, will be in Atlantic City.
What was your “aha” moment that led you to start Asbury Park Bazaar?
Years ago, my mom and I started a business to sell handmade hats and scarves at local markets. She’s always been a maker—clothing, curtains, hats, you name it—and I was very into crocheting. In the back of my mind, I always knew I’d want to do something along this line of a market, but on a bigger scale. Then, I spotted Convention Hall in Asbury Park and immediately fell in love with the space. Something clicked—it reminded me of the magical German Christmas markets I grew up with, and I wanted to recreate that in Asbury. The building itself got me excited, but then I secured very special vendors, and it all came together beautifully. I went from hosting three seasonal events per year to almost 20 right before the pandemic hit.
What is something you enjoy doing in your downtime?
Before my daughter was born, I played the drums in a band with my friends – it was a lot of fun and a great way to de-stress. But, once Magdalena arrived, I realized I want to be with her as much as I possibly can. We love to hang out at a pool, the beach, playgrounds, and parks. I also enjoy practicing yoga and standup paddleboarding since we live right by the river.
What do you hope your daughter learns from seeing you run your business?
I hope I can inspire her to be independent, creative and put her all into whatever she sets her mind on. I love that she already loves going to our events. I always let her choose one thing from a local maker, so now, she’s supporting small at the tender age of two, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
How did the pandemic affect the Bazaar?
As an indoor event-based business, regulations temporarily shut us down. Then, Pier Village approached us to do an outdoor event, and we got to work putting it all together, but the shifting capacity limits made it impossible. We respected the rules and decided for the safety of all that it was best to stop the live events altogether. However, we pivoted to virtual events and vendor features for holiday shopping on Instagram.
Now, with things starting to get back to some sense of normal, we’re planning for fall and the holiday season. And, we have been able to host our latest endeavor, the pop-up Makers + Shakers, all summer long at Pier Village through Labor Day weekend. We have a rotation of extraordinary makers, artists, and designers selling their goods. We also have beautiful areas for families to take photos. If everything goes as well as we expect it to, we’d love to do more small-scale retail pop-ups like this one, in addition to our bigger Convention Hall events.
What are some of your favorite local NJ businesses?
In Asbury, Foolish Ginger and Interwoven are two of my favorite brick-and-mortar shops where I go for gifts and goods. And we love Oak Hill Farms in Holmdel—we relax with the alpacas and baby goats and sit outside with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and a delicious sweet treat. They were vendors at Asbury Park Bazaar, and the owners are exceptional.
What do you love doing in NJ with your family?
We are beach people. Bradley Beach is the local go-to, but Shark River has some great beaches as well, and we can walk to them from our home. We also love Fisherman’s Cove, the dog beach in Manasquan where we take Edith, our black golden retriever—it’s her favorite place to fetch sticks. We also love checking out vineyards and wineries with friends. We’ll spread out some blankets, sip some wine and let the kids run around. Working Dog Winery, Cream Ridge Winery, and 4JG’s Orchards & Vineyards are all great options. My husband, Joe, and I have always loved to hike. Before Magdalena was born, we went to Mount Tammany Trail in Delaware River and Stairway to Heaven in Wawayanda State Park in North Jersey, but those are too challenging for our daughter right now. Lately, we’ve been sticking closer to home by hiking Shark River Park.
What do you wish you knew about becoming an NJMOMpreneur before starting your business?
I wish I knew that I didn’t have to do it all by myself. In the beginning and for too long afterward, I did everything myself, from selling tickets to securing the vendors to booking talent and managing all the details you need to keep an eye on. But that’s not the case now—I’ve since learned asking for help and growing your team is the best way to grow your business and make it a success.