Walton native Caroline Glass is turning years of network marketing experience into retail savvy.
Glass, 28, opened Sweet Caroline’s Co., a boutique and beauty bar at 5 Elm St. in Oneonta, in mid-June. Glass, a licensed cosmetologist, said Sweet Caroline’s Co. offers beauty services and clothing, accessories and jewelry, with some locally made products.
Glass said circumstances shaped his business prowess.
“I actually started my business in 2017 with a makeup line called SeneGence International, and it’s a multi-level marketing (company),” she said. “When I signed up for that, it literally changed my life. That was the fourth MLM I tried, and I was definitely in the skeptical bucket…but I got pregnant while I was still in high school and it changed the course of my life. I had to sacrifice so much and couldn’t go to college… so I was looking for a way to use my creativity and still earn money from home. As a stay at home mom, it can be a struggle where you lose yourself…and it was a really lonely place, which led me to try different MLMs.”
Trying SeneGence, Glass said, marked “a turning point.”
“It pushed me to prove to myself that I could do something for myself, and I began to see that I had the potential to be a business woman,” she said. “After working in that career for two years, I decided to start my own little boutique and started with earrings.”
Customers, Glass said, were soon hooked.
“I was using these as gifts for my makeup clients and they loved these earrings so much I had an ‘Aha!’ moment,” she said. “I went down the rabbit hole of what I would have to do to buy wholesale earrings, and that’s when…I registered with New York State and got my reseller’s permit.
“It was just earrings for a couple of months…but it really took off, and that led me to do some market research on boutiques and what was trending and how to get clothes,” Glass continued. “I put up clothing racks in the basement and a couple of inventory things and we did live shows and sold everything in two days. It was the craziest thing.”
The rapid growth, Glass said, prompted a move to Bainbridge in 2020, followed by its search for a brick-and-mortar site. Finding the Elm Street location, she said, brought “everything full circle.” Glass said he signed the lease in November and then spent eight months renewing.
“I really wanted to expand and had the idea of looking for a little storefront space,” he said. “I wanted to have all the things in the same place and manage them better. I had been planning to go to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and, in that space of wanting to know what to do with my life, I had a change of mind that made me see the value of my talents and know that I didn’t know it. I need to go to college to be successful so I can build something (using) all the tools I’ve learned over the years.
“I just had this vision of a place where I could have beauty services, like lash extensions, facials, and personal tanning, and my beauty bar where I can get wedding makeup and clothes all in one place,” she continued. Glass. “I felt that Oneonta was the perfect place to have a niche place like mine…and I love Oneonta; It is such a fun and creative city. I remember being in school and wishing there were cute little boutiques and thinking to myself, ‘Why isn’t there anything like this here?’ So I made it happen.”
Glass said clients are embracing his approach.
“My market online is all the returning customers…so online I would say beauty products steal the show,” she said. “At the boutique… I get new arrivals almost every week, but my staples (t-shirts, jeans, essentials you would have in your closet) and handbags and jewelry are a huge hit. and my clients love the earrings; that’s still a big part of what I do. It’s always evolving to try new little gift items to incorporate lots of local people who do things too. My clients love all things. I have had very positive feedback.”
The demographics, Glass said, reflect that mix.
“Most of my clients are still online,” he said. “I’m still figuring out my demographic in person, but online…it’s all over the US I probably have over 1,000 customers all over the US and I ship all over Canada. Most of my clientele are middle-aged women… but as I walk into the store, I really want to gain some versatility. It’s a college town with a younger vibe, so I tried to include a younger feel in my store and a lot of young girls came in.”
Glass said he has “a completely gigantic plan” and said he expects continued growth.
“I’m planning, within the next five years, to be able to expand to a place where I can have a warehouse full of inventory and employees and a whole shipping team that manages that side of the business,” he said.
“I envision expanding to the point where my store becomes more of a showroom for the items I have in stock in the warehouse. That will be a much better way for me to manage online orders…and I hope to bring some work to the community.”
Sweet Caroline’s Co. is open from 11 am to 6:30 pm Tuesday through Friday and 11 am to 7 pm on Saturday.
For more information, search for “Sweet Caroline’s Co.” on Facebook or visit sweetcarolinesco.com.