LIVINGSTON, NJ — The owners of Livingston’s Cotton & Jewels, newly located in the rear of Roosevelt Plaza across from Blo Lounge and Wigs Etcetera, recently celebrated a month in business by inviting Livingston Mayor Ed Meinhardt and members of the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce to help them cut the commemorative ribbon marking the boutique’s grand opening.
In the weeks leading up to the winter holidays, owners Vicky Halper of Verona and Shari Schenerman of West Orange are optimistic that Cotton & Jewels will be a fresh and exciting destination for holiday shopping. Already known in the area for designing unique and affordable fashion and jewelry, the pair knew Livingston was the ideal place to build their newly formed partnership.
Schenerman and Halper became quick friends while working together at a salon in Millburn, where they each sold their individual merchandise. Two years later, Halper said she and Schenerman knew that if they found the right location, they could marry their passions to create a successful retail store that would be known for its customer service, cost-conscious prices and quality of products.
“Vicky’s the Cotton part, I’m the Jewels part, and together we accessorize,” said Schenerman, a jewelry designer by trade. “We were talking about women our age and their daughters in their 20s having a place to go that’s not a department store, that’s cozy, that’s bright and is a place where you would want to shop with really good customer service. We can design jewelry or we can style you from head to toe, so that’s how this idea came about.”
As the exclusive retailer of Schenerman’s brand, Jolie Jewels NYC, Cotton & Jewels already has a following of satisfied Jolie Jewels customers in the area who not only know the quality of Schenerman’s products, but also appreciate her ability to personalize her jewelry. According to Halper, her business partner is unique to other retailers in that she is always willing to change her designs to meet the needs of her customers.
“People can say, ‘Oh I have this but I never wear it,’ and [Shari] will say bring it in because she’ll redesign it for you,” said Halper.
Schenerman added that her goal is always to sell pieces that make a statement but are also comfortable and affordable. In the event that a costumer returns unhappy with a certain aspect of a product, such as a clasp that gets caught on clothing, Schenerman will recreate the piece until the problem is solved.
“I was born an artist, so I have this need to create and redo,” said Schenerman, who not only designs her own collections, but also sells pieces she loves from other designers she has met. “There are a lot clothing stores in town, but if we’re sitting here and someone says, ‘I love this shirt, I want to put a necklace with it,’ and they love the necklace but the chain is too long—I can say, ‘Well I make those chains, I can make you whatever length you want.’ It’s about making people feel good about themselves and it’s non-threatening.”
Equally committed to this level of customer service, Halper said her expertise in merchandising and eye for accessorizing allows her to dress women head to toe in outfits that make them feel beautiful.
“Once I get you in the fitting room, you’re done—because I’m going to try really hard to get something that I like you in,” said Halper. “I really try hard to make women feel good about themselves…They always find a problem with their body and my job is to say, ‘No, you look great, and I’m not going to let you walk out of here if you don’t.’ And most of the time they walk out happy.”
In addition to their mutual desire for a space of their own to express their personalities and showcase their designs, Halper and Schenerman also share a mission of creating a warm, uplifting and non-threatening atmosphere for shoppers.
“We always have music on in here, we always have candles lit—which we sell—and all of the clothes in here are highly curated but stylized,” said Schenerman, adding that they also recently hired an outgoing full-time employee who enhances the friendly atmosphere of the store.
“It’s a nice atmosphere here,” said Halper. “I love it and we already feel like it’s our home away from home.”
Although the duo said that there is “always a learning process in retail,” such as learning the types of fabrics customers are looking for and the price ranges they want to see, Halper and Schenerman have had a successful first month. In fact, Halper said at the ribbon cutting ceremony that she was pleasantly surprised to already see some positive online reviews.
In addition to the clothing and jewelry, the owners noted that the variety of other products, such as candles, handbags, gloves, scarves and more, are sure to make Cotton & Jewels the perfect stop for holiday shopping. Halper and Schenerman are looking forward to not only helping customers get dressed for their holiday events, but also helping shoppers pick out gifts that are within their price range.
To learn more about Cotton & Jewels, located at 2 West Northfield Road in Livingston, visit the website, follow Cotton & Jewels on Facebook and Instagram, or contact the owners at (973) 533-0003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.