PALMA CEIA — Trista Page opened her retail shop 18 months ago, about the worst time for any small business trying to build a brand in an unforgiving economy.
Last month, Page closed her Indigo Bee location at 3205 W Bay to Bay Blvd., but that doesn't mean her line of custom soaps and lotions hasn't caught on. Quite the opposite, she said.
"I'm not shutting my business, I'm closing my retail location," Page said. "We're not going under."
Page started her Indigo Bee line a few years ago out of her home and focused on building a wholesale business. The retail store was "something I wanted to do," but with three young children, Page soon found that managing both was too overwhelming.
She said she chose to close the shop and focus on the wholesale side because 70 percent of her business was coming from customers like spas and hotels.
But the retail store "really gave me a lot of brand awareness," Page said. "People learned about my products. I have a lot of very rabid followers, very loyal customers. Most of what I do is word of mouth and social media. I've grown it into a very comfortable little business."
Page said she will continue to sell her products online at indigobee.com.
There's a new source for arty home decor
Kimy Marino always had a drive to design. The recent Florida State graduate said she is constantly creating and painting and has "always had friends ask me to help decorate their rooms."
Now she has her own shop, stocked almost entirely with housewares and decorative items that she paints and customizes herself. Her Ki Designs opened recently in a formerly empty building at 607-B S MacDill Ave.
Marino describes her style as "girly but not too bright and preppy." Her hand-painted glassware, cookie jars, kitchen accessories and other housewares are decorated with animal prints and designs that remind her of a French boutique.
Marino majored in textiles and merchandising at FSU. She said she decided to open her own retail store in her native Tampa right after graduation, in part, because she wanted to market and sell her pieces, not just paint.
Hours at Ki Designs are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 5 on Saturday. "Sunday and Monday are for painting," she said. The store's website is KiCustomDesigns.com.
Rawbar Sushi sold; Taps to get new focus
Founder James DeVito has sold Rawbar Sushi at downtown's SkyPoint condos, leaving time for him to focus on an expansion and franchise plan for Taps Wine and Beer Eatery, his restaurant and bar in the same building.
DeVito is looking to expand the 2-year-old Taps concept to St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Miami, Orlando/Winter Park and Fort Lauderdale. He said he expects to announce a new location soon.
Rawbar Sushi was purchased by investor Rocco Savage and the Yolo Group.
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