Friday, June 8, 2012

Goodbye Ava!

Meet Divine-Diva-turned-Entrepreneur,
Ms. Ava St. Claire!

Our lovely Ava has been a part of the Divine Consign team for over a year. This weekend, we say goodbye as she leaves to concentrate on her new brilliant business, TipTop Shops!

Here’s what Ava has to say…..

DC: Tell us a little about TipTop Shops

A: TipTop Shops is a full-service organization that makes starting a new business easy. We take care of everything—from branding and identity to storefront renovations; even setting up the phones and cash registers! The idea is to give small business owners a turn-key solution to opening up a new shop. 

DC: Where did you get the idea for this genius new business?

A: About two years ago, my grandmother and aunts wanted to open a salon/spa/beauty supply shop. Before they could renovate my grandfather's old building, they had to go through the grueling process of permits and zoning with the city. It made me want to scream! They should have been focused on making women look and feel beautiful, not fighting with city hall. So I thought, ‘hey, wouldn't it be cool if an owner could hire one coordinated, knowledgeable company to take care of the things most shop owners would rather not deal with?’ So that was the beginning of TipTop Shops. 

DC: You are one smart cookie (and beautiful too)…. Where did you go to school?

A: I graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Urban Planning & Economics in 2006.  I then received my Master of Arts in Commercial Interior Design from Harrington College of Design in December of 2010.  

DC: Did you learn anything while working at Divine Consign that you think will help you be a successful business owner? 

A: Great Customer Service=Freedom. Customer Service is an art—you really have to care about the people you serve in order to succeed. As an owner, if you are open to trying new things to better serve your customers, you won't have to worry about keeping them. That kind of fearlessness can really help a business grow.  

DC: What are you going to miss most about working at Divine Consign?

A: Oh goodness! My girls!!!! I have never worked with such an awesome group of people in my life! Everyone from Kellie to Rafael and the delivery guys are such kind hearted, generous people. It's hard to find that in a work place. I'm sure I'll be visiting often.

DC: Well you better!!! What advice would you give to women thinking about starting their own business?

A: It's important to get used to trading your time or craft for money, and to learn the monetary value of what you want to do. As women we tend to downplay the desire for money—men don't have as much of a problem with this. 

DC: Well we sure feel lucky to have gotten to work with you for so long, and are excited to finally see your awesome ideas put into action! We are so proud of how far you’ve already come, and can’t wait to watch you grow your business!

A: Many thanks to Kellie for being such a great boss and role model! And hugs and kisses to each of the ladies I worked with—you’ve all taught me so much about life and love. 

BEST OF LUCK TO YOU, AVA! We are going to miss you around here, but are so happy and excited to watch you succeed!

The redesign of Ava’s website rolls out on June 20th. Until then, visit her blog at or follow her on Twitter at @mytiptopsshops to discover really innovative storefronts and business ideas in the Chicago area!

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