MODESTO — Downtown Modesto is enjoying the addition of a new children’s boutique.
Jack and Jane children’s clothing store opened July 1 at 1321 J St. The store offers reasonably priced brands such as Carter and OshKosh for practical shoppers and higher-end merchandise from Guess and Juicy Couture.
“You can shop for your own kids because our prices are affordable, but also it’s more like you can come in here and buy a gift and get the personalized service,” said owner Sylvia Skochenko. “This is a gift shop at the same time, everything is wrapped up in tissue, and it’s very ‘boutiquey.’”
Skochenko earned a nursing degree in 2002 and worked in health care for 15 years, but she says she has always harbored a desire to have her own store.
“Honestly, this is my passion — to open a business,” Skochenko said. “I have four children, with my oldest 16, and I have a 2-year old. I guess I’ve been doing this a long time — the shopping and the fashion and this industry.”
The two-story shop features girls’ clothing along with Hello Kitty accessories and Papyrus greeting cards on the first floor. Boys’ merchandise is in the upstairs loft.
Skochenko’s teenaged daughter, Nadia, is spending the summer helping at the store, earning work experience and offering creative and artistic ideas for displays.
Skochenko moved to Modesto two years ago and chose to open Jack and Jane downtown hoping she could help improve the vibrancy of the area.
“I love the downtown feeling of a town,” she said. “I used to live in Los Gatos, and Los Gatos has a very fun downtown. When I moved to Modesto, I thought, ‘Why don’t they do something with this place?’ And honestly, I always felt like I could contribute something like that.”
Skochenko chose the J Street site because she considered it a strategic location among other retail businesses in the area. The new store’s downtown neighbors are delighted she’s located there. They say that they and their clients appreciate the opportunity to shop for children’s items nearby.
“It’s great to have more retail downtown, especially a specialty children’s boutique,” said Juliana Hamza, owner of Jewelz and Company Hair Salon, also on J. Street. “It provides more options without having to run to the mall. And she’s done a great job setting it up. Our clients go to her because they also have children. It provides one-stop shopping for them.”
Aqua Bliss, another J Street business that offers services that include tanning, massage, nail care and aromatherapy, is also pleased that Jack and Jane located downtown.
“Our clients love having boutique-style children’s clothing to shop for,” said Noelani Kailiponi, Aqua Bliss Studio manager. “I have children as well, and we love having her as our neighbor.”
Business started out a bit slow, but Skochenko said sales have increased every day. Word-of -mouth referrals have been growing, and the store has received excellent feedback from its first customers. After she gets a better feel for the business, Skochenko hopes to increase the range of products Jack and Jane sells.
“Because we’re just opening, I was really trying to get a feel for the type of clients that I get downtown,” she said. “But basically I didn’t want to exclude. I do plan — when I get bigger — to include teens.”
Skochenko spent six months preparing to open her shop. She researched vendors and applied to sell their products. Because retail sales is new to her, she doesn’t have a specific forecast for the upcoming months, other than to succeed and grow.
“I don’t think I have a lot of expectations, and I think that is a good thing,” she said. “Because this is my dream, my passion I feel like it’s going to do really well.”
In the meantime, customers are enjoying the current merchandise choices Jack and Jane Kids offers.
“It’s nice to have a new shop in town that’s not commercial but unique and has a variety of clothes and sizes for my first grader,” said Lisa Shrock. “There were so many dresses and outfits that won’t be the same thing that everyone else is going to have from Kohl’s or Gymboree. “I can’t wait until the first of August when she will get a new shipment in.”
Shopper Camille Rey enjoyed the store’s ambience and the prices as well.
“I thought it was beautiful, and I was happily surprised that it was affordable. I was concerned that it would be pricey and glad to know that it wasn’t. I will be coming back,” she said. “Sylvia has a great sense of style. She helped put together outfits but focused on my kids at the same time. A very kid-centric store.”