Meet the Makers - Making Dreams a Reality

Making your business a reality can be challenging. There are endless checklists, stressful planning sessions, and let’s not even get into the financial struggles. The vendors who take part in the Asbury Park Bazaar have already accomplished a lot as a business. Most have online stores, a significant following, and participate in various pop up markets. Some of the vendors have even taken a giant leap and opened their own store fronts!

We reached out to three local business owners, Ashley Mills (Be Free Creations), Diana Ulke (Brighter Days), and Julia Passafiume (Old Spool Sewing Studio) to ask them some questions about what it’s like to open your own store front. We got some great insight into the challenges, fun, and hard work that go into opening a store.


Ashley Mills - Be Free Creations

What was the biggest hurdle you experienced when trying to open up a store front and how did you conquer it?

It’s definitely been a learning process that is still getting sorted out, but I’m fortunate that I haven’t had to experience any true hurdles just yet.  What has been the most challenging is balancing all that goes into opening. You won’t sleep much and you will have to do laundry at unreasonable hours, but what’s amazing is that somehow you just make it work.

What advice do you have for other vendors who'd like to open up a store front?

It’s still wild to me that I’m the one giving advice on opening a store!! Make sure to have a business plan and a marketing plan. Make a list of everything that could potentially go wrong and problem solve before it happens. What has truly helped me is having a solid support system from friends and family. They’ll keep you going when you feel like you’re in over your head!  Be consistent and what’s most important is have fun while doing it! It’ll show your passion!

What is your favorite thing about being involved with the Asbury Park Bazaar?

From start to finish everything is always smooth sailing!  The thorough communication, gorgeous decorations, outstanding marketing and planning, it’s all what sets the bazaar apart from any other event making it my favorite. The amazing sense of community is what makes it feel like a family of makers.

Tell us about your store front! Where is it located? What do you love the most about having your own store front?

It’s called B+B studios which is a collaborative space with Be Free Creations (my jewelry brand) and Brighter Days. It acts as both studio space for us to create out of, as well as retail to showcase all of our products. We will also be hosting workshops and other fun events. B+B studios is located at 625R Arnold Ave in Point Pleasant Beach. It’s a dream come true having my own space to create and sell out of!! I’m still pinching myself! Other than being able to look over and see all my pieces on display what I really love is meeting everyone that comes through the door. It fills my heart getting to talk with you about my jewelry/process and helping you find something that you truly love.  


Diana Ulke - Brighter Days

What was the biggest hurdle you experienced when trying to open up a store front and how did you conquer it?

The biggest hurdle was finding a space that was a perfect fit for our business and our budget. We needed a place where we had room for storage, a work area, showroom to display products, and a workspace table to hold workshops and events. After months and months of searching and getting disappointed and discouraged, this little cottage kind of fell onto our lap. We jumped right on the opportunity and made it our little cozy space. 

What advice do you have for other vendors who'd like to open up a store front? 

The dream of starting a retail business can easily become a reality, you just have to believe in your business, your product, and in yourself. My #1 advice is location, location, location. Find a space within a supportive community, but also something that fits in your budget. Start with a space you feel most comfortable with, so you don't overwhelm yourself. There is always room to grow!

What is your favorite thing about being involved with the Asbury Park Bazaar?

The Asbury Park Bazaar is my favorite market to be a part of ESPECIALLY during the Holiday Season! I love the atmosphere and the energy from everyone, including the Asbury Park Bazaar Team, the vendors, and our customers. The Holidays get more and more stressful as you get older, but I couldn't be more thankful for all the shoppers who shop small and support our businesses! 

Tell us about your store front! Where is it located? What do you love the most about having your own store front?

Our cute little Studio Space is located at 625R Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. It's super cozy and welcoming and fits our aesthetic. There are lots of windows all around so people walking by can take a peak in and see us in action, making candles. What I love most about having my own store front is being able to have a place for our customers to come by, smell, shop and pick up orders. Separating "business" from "home" is also a breath of fresh air. We have lots of plans of hosting candle making workshops and ladies nights, so I am super excited to work on that! 


Julia Passafiume - Old Spool Sewing Studio

What was the biggest hurdle you experienced when trying to open up a store front and how did you conquer it?

Realizing the risk won’t kill me. Back in April I was a contestant on a Reality TV show in Canada called “Stitched” (it’s a simpler version of project runway!) and I was so anxious before filming that I thought I was going to get to set and faint. But, I didn’t! I had so much fun and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, it was amazing and totally life changing (yup, reality TV that’s life changing!) After that I found the confidence to pursue my dreams of having a brick and mortar studio, and every time I considered all the risk involved I took a deep breath and remembered how nervous I was before filming Stitched. Failing won’t kill you, and what if you don’t give your dreams a chance? 

What advice do you have for other vendors who'd like to open up a store front? 

Be patient, run your numbers and believe in that dream. Over the summer before I even began looking for real estate, I sat in my backyard with an iced tea and ran my numbers FOR DAYS. I wanted to know how much work it would take me to make rent, pay my bills and then, ultimately, pay myself. I think the universe was looking out for me because the storefront I have now presented itself at the perfect time and for a great price. I didn’t force the wrong location or a place that wouldn’t suit my needs. And the whole time I believed I would get to be the store owner I wanted to be one day. 

What is your favorite thing about being involved with the Asbury Park Bazaar?

Community! I found the Asbury Park bazaar at a time in my life when I really didn’t like where I was. I worked a job I hated and had fallen out of touch with friends, I guess commuting 2 hours each way to and from work will do that to your social life.

Between the friends I’ve made and talented people I’ve met, to the customers that have bought things from me since I started a few years ago (I always loved it when I would see a repeat customer!) the bazaar allowed me to expand my local community of makers and people who value craft in a way I wouldn’t have been able to without it. 

Tell us about your store front! Where is it located? What do you love the most about having your own store front?

Old Spool Sewing Studio is located at 609 Higgins Ave in Brielle. For locals, I’m right across the street from a Mariners Cove Restaurant- the one with over 200 Omlettes!

I love being able to expand the community I treasure so much about the Bazaar. I teach kids and adults at the studio, so I’m able to connect with adults learning a new skill or introduce kids to the craft I’m so passionate about. I host Sip & Stitch events, dabble in other crafts (natural dying, embroidery, and I even had another Bazaar regular come and teach dreamcatchers a few weeks ago) I also have after school classes and will be hosting kids camps during school breaks and summertime! 

I want anyone who comes into the studio to feel comfortable and welcome, and get excited about unplugging and making things with their hands. And I really hope to meet new people at my llama ornament workshop on December 9th at the Bazaar!

Marguerite Chavez