Meet Jenny and Elaine: together they own Antoinette’s Boutique, an online and non-profit store of handmade, vintage jewelry. The Boutique that’s only about a year old is divided into three sections: “handmade,” “vintage,” and “global.” These jewelries are either handmade by Jenny and Elaine themselves, made and sold by other local boutiques or online stores, such as Etsy, or they come from third world countries, which are made by the women there. Despite the fact that the idea of the company was created a year ago, they have created: partnerships with non-profit organizations and other similar jewelry stores, an up-to-date website that channels their vision of French chic-ness, and have already been mention in established publications such as, Teen Vogue, Seventeen magazine, and Pasadena Star News. Oh, and did we mention that they’re only sixteen and eighteen-years-old?
Continue reading for the full interview and for more pictures!
Jenny, sixteen-years-old, is currently a junior at San Gabriel High School; while Elaine is eighteen-years-old and an up and coming sophomore at UC Irvine. Their Journalism class back at San Gabriel High School is where Antoinette’s Boutique all began. At the time, the year of 2011, Jenny was just a “young and crazy freshman” and Elaine was the “preppy” senior writing for the high school’s online newspaper’s fashion blog. They instantly became best friends and discovering they share a passion for vintage styled and preppy fashion, talks of starting their own boutique came about. While most dreams talked and held by young adolescents are far from being successfully achieved, Antoinette’s Boutique was up and running by that same year.
As young as they are, we were pleasantly surprised to hear them talk about their business with such maturity and savvy. Using with what resources they had: the Internet and friends who had skills in specific areas, such as graphic and photography, they made their dreams come to life. Their friends were and are also there for suggestions and feedback on the directions Antoinette’s Boutique should be heading towards. After all, as they stated themselves, “they’re basically part of [their] customers, they’re basically bringing in [they’re] business, so [they] should listen to what they like [and] their interests to incorporate into [theirs].” Keeping in mind that they still attend school; you must be wondering how they manage to get good grades, stay active in extracurricular activities, run their social lives, and run a business. To answer the question, they claimed that they were very good at managing their times – and their success definitely have proven that. Using Antoinette’s Boutique as a “break from their hectic lives,” they work hard on discussing future plans, future partnerships, and jewelry designing and making during the holidays. Their humbling business venture doesn’t stop there, however. 100% of the revenue that are made from the jewelry, handcrafted by disadvantaged women, goes right back to them.
Being feminists, both Jenny and Elaine have great sympathy for women who earn less than $2.00 a day and who take up jewelry making as a hobby. With Antoinette’s Boutique, these women have an opportunity to add more to their income. Not only do they reach these women that live thousands of miles away, they have never forgotten the people living close by.
Seeing joining communities as a significant value, they partner up with local shops and online companies such as, Etsy. They have also created ties with an independent jewelry company Violet Bella. When asked what future plans they had for Antoinette’s Boutique, they both said that they hope to collaborate with more local shops, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs like themselves.
By the rate that their going, we don’t doubt that they’ll fulfill their dreams of having more partners and growing enough to establish their own offices and headquarters. As they said themselves, businesses that are driven by passion and skills will succeed, their ardor for fashion and people will keep Antoinette’s Boutique around for a while.
AM: Can you guys each introduce yourselves, where you’re from, and what you do for our readers who aren’t familiar with both of you? E: My name is Elaine. I’m 18 years old and I go to UC Irvine and I’m a Material Science major. I started Antoinette’s Boutique with Jenny. We met in Journalism class and we always talked about starting a boutique on our own, selling things of our own style we couldn’t find in stores, and that’s pretty much how we got started. J: My name is Jenny and I’m 16 years old. I go to San Gabriel High School and I’m currently a junior. We both met in Journalism [class] and because I have a really great interest in fashion. I write for the fashion blog for the Matador Newspaper, and so that’s why I got into this interesting little thing with Elaine. E: After time in high school I was also really involved with non-profit work – especially with Do Something. Do Something is a non-profit organization, and I was really involved with them. Since non-profit work pretty much was what my high school life revolved around, I decided to combine it with fashion as well.
AM: How does it feel to be entrepreneurs at a young age? Explain how this all began. How did this idea come about? What is the back story behind the name? J: About the entrepreneur part – I don’t know I don’t feel any different. It’s just what we wanted to do and what we like doing so…yeah, I mean it’s fun. It gives you a sense of like, “oh we’re the only ones who happens to be one of the very few people who are able to do this, who are able to do what we like and be passionate about it too.” And it’s a really nice break from school as well because we lead such hectic lives that [running Antoinette’s Boutique] is really fun so it’s just a really nice break. E: When we first started our boutique we were very inspired by Parisians and their French chic-ness. We decided to go with [the name] ‘Antoinette’ because we imagined our ideal customer as this Antoinette lady who was preppy and classy who also thought about the environment as well because that was one of our models and we decided to go with eco-friendly and we really wanted to do a boutique because we found a lot of non-profit organizations who sold jewelries from Africa and South America so then we decided to go with that route with the resources that we had.
AM: So explain how all of this began. J: It kind of began when we met in Journalism for a whole year. I was this young, crazy freshman and Elaine was this preppy senior, and we [became] best friends. We started talking because she wrote for the fashion blog and I wrote for the fashion blog – we kind of started the chain of fashion blog for our school newspaper on the online website. We started to talk about how we should open up our own business and how it should be. Then during the summer of that year, 2011, around June or July, Elaine got it going. We chose our title and then later we started to assemble everything we could. E: There [were] also a lot of things that helped us start our business obviously since we’re so young. We don’t have the resources as maybe say a Harvard business school graduate would have but we did have the advantage of the Internet, so then we were able to find online communities like Etsy where there were a lot of supportive young women entrepreneurs. We also were able to ask our fellow students [for] help because when we were first starting the website I didn’t know much about what design or coating or graphics, so then we decided to ask our friends from high school. One of them is Michelle Fong, she’s our graphic designer in Art Center College in Pasadena, so we asked her for help and we also asked fellow photographers, we met up with bloggers, and we kind of got the chain rolling.
Full article: http://audreymagazine.com/audreys-one-to-watch-jenny-bui-elaine-dinh-truong-of-antoinettes-boutique-2/