YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A small online boutique operated by two women is growing rapidly by taking advantage of digital technology.
Halo by jojo is owned and operated by best friends Amy Fitzgerald and Jen Paris, teachers at Austintown Middle School. The boutique opened for business in May 2020, when the pandemic was in full-swing.
“We started online,” Fitzgerald says. “We are both retail-therapy people” and stores were shut down, so the women needed a new, creative outlet, she said.
“We both have sizzling personalities. So we thought, ‘Let’s just do it,’ ” Paris says.
They wanted to offer a new shopping option for women. So they focused on offering a variety of clothing ranging in sizes, styles and price points. “We have something for everyone,” Fitzgerald says.
Together, Fitzgerald and Paris handle accounting, marketing, purchasing and delivery for Halo by jojo. They have built professional relationships with companies from where they purchase their inventory, choosing items themselves. The boutique is based out of Fitzgerald’s Canfield home.
A couple of unique aspects set the business apart from other boutiques, the friends say.
“We do Facebook Live sales,” Fitzgerald says, where the women try on clothes and show the accessories, talking about the quality of the merchandise. “We talk about how each item fits and explain how everything feels,” she says.
Another aspect that sets Halo by jojo apart is its delivery option.
“Within 10 miles of where we live, we do free local delivery,” Paris says. Sweetening the deal, the local delivery is next-day.
Their families join in on Facebook Live events and help with delivery while they are in school teaching. Items are categorized into collections on the website and the boutique’s newly launched app.
To reach a larger audience, the shopping app is now available for download. Fitzgerald and Paris say it is receiving positive reviews from their customers.
“It’s so important,” Fitzgerald says. “The upcoming generations, they shop using apps,” adding her 20-year-old daughter encouraged them to try the new venture.
Fitzgerald and Paris met when Paris was first hired at Austintown Middle School. When then assistant principal met Paris, he told her he was going to pair her up with Fitzgerald, knowing the two would hit it off instantly, Paris sayes.
“I walked in and picked her out of 50 teachers,” Paris says. “I felt like I knew her my whole life.”
The age difference means nothing to them – Fitzgerald is 50 and Paris is 32. As their friendship grew, they found out they each have the same middle name: Jo.
When they were brainstorming boutique names, they chose “halo” because, as they both say, they are each other’s angels.
In addition to the app, Halo by jojo has launched a perfume named Fate.
“Fate is what brought us together,” Paris says, referring to the day they were introduced, linking them together.
Also building their customer base are pop-up events the women have been hosting, allowing them to build relationships with other area businesses.
Upcoming pop-up sales include:
- Oct. 10, at Ursuline High School, 750 Wick Ave., Youngstown
- Oct. 24 at Avion on the Water, 2177 W. Western Reserve Road, Canfield
- Oct. 30 at Youngstown Nutrition, 945 Boardman-Canfield Road, Boardman
- Nov. 14, the Canfield softball fundraiser, a Ladies’ Day Out at the Tippecanoe Country Club, at 5870 Tippecanoe Road, Canfield.
Fitzgerald and Paris are grateful to be working with each other both at school and for their boutique. They say the support from their families means a lot too.
“We are so thankful to our husbands, Marty (Fitzgerald) and Joe (Paris), and our families for their continuous love and support,” Paris says.
Pictured: Halo by jojo owners Jen Paris and Amy Fitzgerald at a pop-up event at Youngstown Nutrition.
Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.