In 2017 Gabrielle Newkirk, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, had a job with a consignment company that she loved, but when they suddenly folded and shuttered their doors, she was stunned and shaken. Never wanting that to happen again, Gabby saw this as an opportunity to do something she always had dreamed of—open a consignment shop that would combine style and community in a cool boutique aesthetic. Fast forward to 2020, and The Collective is a highly sought after consignment boutique in Summit thanks to Gabby’s discerning eye and consigner relationships. We chatted with this Denville new mama about the most rewarding aspects of owning her shop, how motherhood has changed her, and her favorite neighborhood dinner spot when she’s craving Italian.
Featured image via @The Collective
Tell us about your professional journey that led you to launch The Collective.
At college, I majored in psychology and minored in studio arts and philosophy to become an art therapist. During that time, I interned at Anthropologie, working on displays, and that changed everything—I realized that I loved retail. After graduating, they hired me, and I eventually found my way to a job at a well-known consignment company on the East Coast. In 2017, they closed every one of their shops rather suddenly, and I was stunned. It was a very stressful time in my life, but as one of my wise mentors said, “Life only throws so many rocks in your direction until one of them hits.” I know that sounds pretty drastic, but in this case, it was true. I had always wanted a shop of my own, but I was happy at my job, so I didn’t feel I had to do it any time soon. Losing my job was just the push I needed to get out there and do it myself. When I lost my job, I told myself that I never wanted to have another job taken away from me, especially one I loved. That was a powerful motivator in creating my business.
What is the best thing about owning and operating your own business? What is the most challenging thing?
I was super scared and anxious when I began thinking of opening up my own shop, but I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband who wholeheartedly believes in me. He said, “whenever you’re ready, let’s do this.” Again and again, I look back at those moments before I opened, and I am so grateful that I took the leap. I love creating a place where people come in and feel good– it’s not just about the clothes, shoes, and bags (although they are all amazing)– it’s about the relationships, conversations, and laughs. There is not one day I wake up and don’t want to go to work. My business is like my second home, and I love that my customers feel the same way about it. The most challenging thing is making sure I am always delivering the best of the best. I am hard on myself and am very goal and solution-oriented, so I’m always trying to exceed my clients’ expectations.
With your son being less than a year old, how has being a mom changed your way of thinking about your shop? If so, in what way?
Besides my dogs, my shop was my first baby, and then I had my son, Asa. I’m fortunate that I get to do both—I love being a mom and have a job I’m passionate about. Becoming a mom has only strengthened my desire to challenge myself and be the best I can be. It comes from wanting to show my son what hard work and determination look like and what they can do for your life. I truly believe we create our lives, and I hope he learns that through my example.
What does your downtime look like?
My downtime consists of hanging out with my husband, my son, and our dogs. You’ll usually find us outside in our yard, hiking, or just walking the neighborhood. I also do a lot of tummy time and activities with my son. And when I do have some time to myself, I’m reading, running, or making some kind of art.
What are some of your favorite NJ spots and local businesses?
We love NJ—some of our favorite places to visit as a family are Union Hill Farms, Ocean City, and local hiking places such as Jockey Hollow in Morristown. My favorite local businesses are Beauty Lounge and Great House, both in Summit. I also love the Pasta Shop in Denville. When I go into each of these businesses, it feels like family. I love building relationships with people wherever I go.
What’s your best piece of advice for an NJMOM looking to start a new business?
My best advice is always this—love what you do. There are many reasons to do anything in life, but loving it has to be the number one reason for doing it. If you don’t love it, it’s not right for you. My second piece of advice is, don’t let fear hold you back. Fear is the beginning–it shouldn’t be the reason not to do something.