Jazzy builds on family retail tradition
There’s been a quiet revolution on the Church Street level of Washington Mall as Jazzy boutique has enlarged its footprint in the shopping complex and now occupies a group of four units.
There is the original Jazzy, together with Jazzy Too, Jazzy Plus and the Jazzy-associated Accessory Box.
Jazzy’s owner Lasheika Burgess has successfully grown the business by seizing opportunities as they came along, while staying focused on customers’ needs.
“I enjoy it, but I was not sure about it at first,” said Ms Burgess. Previously she worked in the corporate world and in fashion merchandising before studying at the International Institute of Fine Arts in Miami. When she returned to Bermuda she got involved with the mother’s retail business and things took off.
The original Jazzy clothes shop expanded when a neighbouring unit became vacant ten years ago. An in-store doorway was created between the units to allow customers to walk seamlessly between Jazzy, with its range of women’s fashions, and the Jazzy Too outlet.
Shoes and boots dominate the shelves in Jazzy Too, which won’t be a surprise for those who know Ms Burgess.
She explained: “Shoes are my passion. I wanted to get into the shoe business and blend it with clothing.”
That expansion proved popular, as was clear from the steady stream of midweek customers popping into the store yesterday.
Aside from shoes, the shop sells accessory items such as handbags, sunglasses and earings and clothes.
Having a large inventory is something Ms Burgess learnt from her parents, who both have retail industry experience.
“My dad told me that more stock brings in more people,” she said.
Ms Burgess continually strives to ensure the shops’ stock is attractive to customers and in demand.
“I keep up with the fashion world and what Bermudians want. Bermudians love to dress up and look stylish.”
The third Jazzy outlet, Jazzy Plus, opened two years ago. It is in a retail unit facing Jazzy and Jazzy Too, and it specialises in stylish women’s clothing in larger sizes.
“When the shoe shop that was there said they were leaving we jumped in and started selling plus size clothing.
“Locating the companies that made clothes in the trends we liked was a challenge at first.”
The Jazzy shops felt the impact of the economic downturn that took hold around 2008. However, sales remained buoyant enough for the business to continue paying its bills. Opening Jazzy Plus generated additional revenue. “That helped us,” said Ms Burgess.
Last April, the unit next to Jazzy Plus became available and the Jazzy-associated Accessory Box made the short move from the kiosk next to Dandelion Cafe into the larger premises.
Accessory Box sells a wide variety of goods for men, women and children, ranging from caps and hats to head visors, casual polo shirts, belts, ties and accessory bags.
Ms Burgess’ mother Deborah Burgess-Hill looks after the shop. She is one of a number of family members involved in the Jazzy operation.
Ms Burgess-Hill ran the Jeans and Things shop in the mall before it was renamed Jazzy in the early 1990s. Her involvement in the retail business goes back to 1981 and the opening of the original Jeans and Things shop on Court Street.
“Jeans and Things was one of the first stores that had urban clothing,” explained her daughter Ms Burgess.
In 1989, Jeans and Things opened in Washington Mall and soon afterwards expanded with a Jeans Plus store nearby, in what later became the Sound Stage music shop.
The Accessory Box kiosk opened in 1991.
Ms Burgess-Hill said: “I’m the backbone of the business. I come from an era when people were workaholics. When my daughter got involved she brought with her new ideas and that’s when we went into shoes and then larger sizes of trendy clothes for women.
“We noticed a difference during the recession, but we made enough to pay the bills and when things improved we worked our way back up.”
Ms Burgess-Hill said she enjoys being involved in the retail environment.
“I like meeting people and it has been fun over the years. You get to know what people want to buy,” she said.
Her daughter Ms Burgess agreed. “We cater for ages 12 up to whatever age you feel, and we can dress you from head to toe,” she said.
“It’s about keeping up with the fashions and giving the people what they want. We have gone through a few generations. I’m thankful for all the customers we have.”