Latitudes and Longitudes
I grew up in Southampton, PA, and have always been extremely creative. I loved to put puzzles together, draw pictures, make jewelry for my friends and build things. Growing up, I took many art classes, beading classes, jewelry making class. I was always interested in how something was made and tried to reproduce it and make it myself. I attended Philadelphia University and graduated with a degree in Industrial Design. I was able to use my talents while going to school. I built a chair out of steel and rubber strips and it is still in my room at home. My senior project was to design something that could be used to stimulate a child’s sensory responses. I built a large padded foot that has winding bars on it for a baby to hold onto and it has different objects that move around the foot that make various sounds and have different textures.
I have a very diverse background working as a Product Design Engineer in graphic design, home fixtures, after market automotive parts, vehicle radiators and medical devices. About 4 years ago I became a small business owner when I purchased a gift boutique in Manayunk, PA, which is called Latitudes and Longitudes. Not only do I sell products for all members of the family from jewelry, candles, wine accessories, cards, children toys, but I also design many of the products and display fixtures in my business. I am on the Manayunk Development Corporation Board as one of the officers and help to make decisions that will make Manayunk the place people want to go to for shopping and dining out. I am always interested in continuing with my design skills and have taken on design projects in addition to running my business. My life is very busy but I enjoy every minute of it.
This loan is special because:
More about this loan
Latiutudes and Longitudes has been an established business that has been around for more than 30+ years. The original name of the business was Latitudes Gallery and when I purchased the business from its prior owner in June 2012 I wanted to keep the name but alter it a bit. The subtle name change from Latitudes Gallery to Latitudes and Longitudes has proven to be a smart one. People who haven’t been to Manayunk in a few years walk in to the store and are excited to see it is still there. Returning customers are happy to see that the store has maintained some of the key merchandise Latitudes Gallery was always known for – mainly the non-traditional, funny greeting cards, jewelry and children’s toys. It is now focused on bringing in updated jewelry styles, many of which are designed by local individuals, more Melissa and Doug brand toys, candles, wine accessories and so much more.
The idea of this business was to transform it into a one stop shop where there are gifts for all occasions and all members of the family. It is a hands on type of store so people are able to see up close the products that are sold. Window decorations are also a big part of this business. The window tells a story of what’s going on in the store and is the best way to draw people in. It is bright and colorful and the person walking by will get the impression that the owner has an eye for design and knows what they are doing.
Dogs are a very big part of Manayunk and the store is very dog friendly. Many times the dogs bring their owners in because they know they will get a little love and a treat.
The idea of having a one stop shopping place in Manayunk is something that has really worked and has created a place that people know they can come to not only get something of quality but also a place where they are welcome to come and visit as well.
What is the purpose of this loan?
I am very proud when someone refers to me as a female entrepreneur and even more when they admire the way that I have set up my store and how everything is displayed. I want to continue to be able to expand my business. I want to bring in more local vendors, create more of my own jewelry, and offer a greater selection to my customers. I am always looking for new and exciting things to bring to my business.
In order to be successful, I have to be able to keep offering customers updated and different merchandise. I need for them to want to keep coming back to my store to see what I have brought in. The biggest problem is that I need more funding to help me accomplish this goal. Vendors do not allow me to bring in their products without first purchasing them and that costs money. I have always been told that I have a great eye for what people would like to buy and have a vision of what I would like to carry in my store.
Years in operation: 3 years – 5 years