Downtown business owner continues evolution

By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Spring Valley Tribune

Spring Valley entrepreneur Jenn Slifka admits she’s not sure she ever had a vision for the future. Rather, her goals and dreams have evolved along with her career, which is “doing what I love.”

However, her dreams have taken her career many steps forward since she opened Chateau de Chic in her mother’s home in December 2006. After operating there for seven years, she determined it was time to move downtown and she has gone through several expansions since then, including adding a retail outlet in the building next to her salon, and next month she will add another building to her complex.

“For 12 years, I have been able to do what I love and what I am passionate about, as well as building strong relationships with my clients and the girls I work with.  I exceeded my expectations with the boutique and now full retail store, but the two work well together,” said Slifka. “I hope that the new store will provide more retail options in Spring Valley.  I have also really enjoyed the retail aspect of our business, the remodel on the building…I really just want to see a thriving downtown for Spring Valley.”

She purchased the downtown Chateau de Chic building seven years ago and since then has added a boutique and spa services. Four years ago, she and her family started renting the building next door, which was previously a Verizon cell phone store, from Dave Phillips to open the Sparrow’s Closet as a consignment shop, later becoming the Some Like It Hot catering and gift shop due to the community’s changing needs.

Four years ago, Chateau de Chic also became a Platinum Moroccanoil salon, and Slifka started educating for Moroccanoil.  Two years ago, she remodeled in the salon and upgraded the retail displays and furniture. 

June 27, she and her husband, Alex, purchased from Phillips the two buildings next to Chateau de Chic, all of which connect inside. The family’s plans are to expand Some Like It Hot, owned by her mother, Suzanne Gardner, and sister, Stephanie Thouin, into the former Spring Valley Tribune building on the north end as well as Chateau de Chic, adding a full clothing and retail store in the middle building.         

That means that the Spring Valley Tribune, having relocated up the street from its longtime location near the corner of Broadway Avenue and Main Street more than 10 years ago, will be packing up and moving down the street once more, to the former dental office on the corner of Broadway and Courtland Street. 

The Tribune will have few changes besides the new location, although the Knights Kloset, which featured Kingsland clothing and items, will discontinue. Slifka will step in to begin carrying Knights clothing that have more of a boutique flair to them with custom logos.  Slifka has already secured a partnership with Kingsland School Parents so that 25 percent of all Knights’ sales will get donated back to KSP.

Although Slifka said every business faces challenges in making everyday decisions, she hasn’t hit any major roadblocks as her business expanded through the years. 

“I have been lucky to be in a community that has supported our business so well.  The decision to expand is always a hard one, but I think we have such a supportive client base that it was the right choice to make,” she said. “And I think it will make downtown a stronger destination for our own community as well as surrounding communities all the way to Rochester.  I think any new businesses opening downtown is great thing and will improve downtown.  In our case, we are filling another building, adding new retail options with both businesses, and freshening up the looks of two buildings.”

Slifka has always been a creative person; she noted the true challenges for her are on the ownership side.

“I could spend all day behind my chair doing cuts and colors, but at the end of the day, I also have to pay the bills, do payroll and all the other managerial tasks.  The challenge is always finding the balance between the two on top of being a wife and a mother of three young boys,” she said. “But getting to do what you are passionate about, I never feel like I am actually working…making friends with our clients, customers, neighboring business owners and everyone who walks through our doors.  I love getting to decorate and design new spaces, doing retail displays and finding fun new lines to bring in.  After work, I love gardening, painting, decorating, junk shopping, collecting, and spending time with my family.”

Spring Valley economic development director Cathy Enerson is nominating Slifka for an award for being a successful entrepreneur under the age of 40, and while Slifka appreciates that she’s being honored through that nomination, she most certainly appreciates even more that she lives in a town where she can operate her business by serving friends and neighbors. 

 “I love Spring Valley!  I am so glad that this is where I have built my business and am raising my family.  Spring Valley has so much to offer.  I love that everything we need, as well as my business needs, I can get right in town, as well as that it’s a strong community that supports our business,” she said. “Plus, I am completely in love with the building we are in.  I love the historical character.  Our doors are open to everyone.  We have a great team at Chateau de Chic and we all work so well together.  I have poured my heart and soul into my business.  It is my passion, it was my first baby and I love spending time there.  Seeing people walk through the doors makes it all worth the years of hard work I have put into it.”