Jennifer Raines is a native Virginian who has owned five retail stores, opening her first at age 19. She has operated some form of this business since 2005 and currently has a flagship store in Williamsburg, VA called Quirks of Art, a website – www.kinksandquirks.com, and a strong social media presence. She has a Master’s Degree in Management, with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness. She has won numerous honors including: “Top 40 Under 40” Honoree, Niche Magazine’s “Top Retailer”, Retail Alliance “Top Retailer”, and a Women in Business Achievement Award. Her stores have been featured as one of “America’s Coolest Stores” in ‘In Store’ Magazine, recently shown in a four-page feature in “Smart Retailer” Magazine, and was chosen as one of National Geographic Travels favorite stops in Williamsburg, VA. Additionally, she has been featured on CBN news in a national segment on ‘Small Business Saturday’. She currently writes a monthly column in “Smart Retailer” magazine advising other retailers on emerging trends and business practices and is also a contributor to “Handmade Business" magazine. She serves on the steering committees for American Craft Week and the new “LoveVa” shop local campaign through Retail Alliance.
Despite economic downturn, personal setbacks, and business challenges - Jennifer continues to drive her business with passion and creativity. After 13 years in business as Kinks, Quirks & Caffeine, Jennifer decided it was time for a change. The market was volatile and the store was becoming stale and in a location that was quickly becoming obsolete. In what some considered to be a risky move in an unstable economy, Jennifer closed her beloved store to relocate and rebrand the business.
The ‘new’ store is named Quirks of Art with the tagline “Be Unique…Buy Unique”. It features 90% of American-made artisan goods with a focus on whimsical, funky and brightly colored “quirks” of art.
Jennifer’s tireless efforts to promote American Handcrafts and independent artisans have made her gallery highly regarded nationally and within the local art community. Because of this reputation, the business was quickly awarded one of the first E-Commerce Grants by the City of Williamsburg to enhance its current website at www.kinksandquirks.com.
By setting a tone of “Contemporary, not Colonial”, Quirks of Art brings a much needed influence of art and American handcrafts to the local area. Customers come from neighboring states specifically to purchase handcrafted art and furniture.
The Virginia Gazette wrote “For local shoppers accustomed to finding only Colonial-style crafts in the area, the assortment of one-of-a-kind art pieces at Quirks of Art provide not only a surprise, but a visual respite from traditional fare”.
Jennifer is extremely giving of her time and mindful in her nature. She devotes herself to working with and mentoring other women in the business community. She spends much of her time and effort supporting various charitable organizations.
Q&A with Jenn:
What makes your store special?
“We are unique, fun, and whimsical. We bring our dogs to work & celebrate their birthdays. We have a ‘pay what you can when you can’ flexible layaway policy. We struggled through the worst economic times since the Great Depression, but did so with smiles on our faces. We wear tutus and feather boas to work. We don’t have a single white wall in our store. For 17 years, we have bought & sold unique items handmade in AMERICA. We give back to our community. We do what’s right, even when it’s not easy.”
What inspired you to start your business?
"After unexpectedly losing my beloved mother in my twenties, I re-evaluated my life as a whole and made some changes. I went back to school and completed a Master’s Degree. I did this not necessarily to earn more money, or a bigger “fancier” job title. I knew that one day I would be a business owner and wanted to foster an enjoyable, creative, and inspiring atmosphere for other women to work."
What’s the first thing someone would notice walking into your store?
"That's easy...Unique! Fun! Whimsical!… These are the words most often heard as customers enter the doors of Quirks of Art – Williamsburg’s most unique Contemporary Art and Handcraft gallery and gift shop."
What is the focus of your gallery?
"The focus of our gallery is to make people’s hearts swell and their mouths smile! We feature a wide variety of unique, handcrafted work with a whimsical and playful flair."
Can’t live without: MUSIC, my dog Zack, spontaneous adventures (like this one…), Viva Glam 5 lip gloss, TRAVEL. I HAVE to travel. I try to go somewhere at least once a month…even if it’s just an overnight getaway to a concert, or weekend road-trip.
Favorite Hero: My Mom – my biggest fan, my very best friend. She was awesome…plain and simple. She passed away suddenly in 2002. Please take a second to read about her. http://www.riversideonline.com/foundation/jean-raines-scholarship.cfm
If my life was a song: Depends on the day…or minute…Right now? “I won’t back down” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Proudest moment: I have run four marathons, not because I’m a good runner, but because I love the challenge. In 2010, I completed the Marine Corps and New York City marathons. The real challenge was that they were back-to-back weekends. The last ten miles in the second race, I cried from pain – but never considered quitting. I definitely didn’t break any speed records… but I finished and raised a lot of money for charities that are important to me. I haven’t run since.
All time travel destination: My favorite is the Caribbean, specifically the British Virgin Islands: The Baths at Virgin Gorda & the Soggy Dollar Bar at Jost Van Dyke are just two of my favorites. I’ve been to Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, all of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Puerto Rico…some of them multiple times. Looking forward to?: I’m soooooooooooo looking forward to a trip of a lifetime this summer to Iceland, England, France, Spain and Italy. Wow, I’m a lucky girl!
Favorite stone: Precious stone are diamonds, semi-precious is labradorite.
Least surprising fact: My dog, Zack is the love of my life.
Life motto: “Do what you love, love what you do, and the world will come to you.” – I bought it on a T-shirt when I was 9 years old…I was wise beyond my years.
Favorite possession: I pretty much have zero attachment to material possessions. They are all temporary, and can be lost so easily. However, I do cherish a few things. Jewelry my mom left me, my dog’s ashes, and my music memorabilia…because they all remind me of good times in my life. I also really love the kinetic wind sculpture that is outside of my store. It was a birthday gift to myself in 2011.
They made a mistake! I was meant to be born: in the 20’s. Love the opulence, music, fashion, and homes of that era…it was also an interesting time for women’s liberation as well.
Fun facts you’d never know: I once had a pet alligator named “Cornhulio,” I was a national Baton Twirler and performed in halftime shows at several college bowl games.
People say I most resemble: Diane Lane.
In my spare time: I love sailing…and have a keel boat certification. I haven’t done much of it in the last two years, so I’m pretty rusty. I don’t watch much TV…in fact, I don’t even have one. I think it’s mostly a waste of time…I’d rather listen to music, read a book, or catch up with a friend. I would love to: Master an instrument. Okay, at least be able to play something (ANYTHING) that sounds pretty. I’ve taken piano, violin, and guitar lessons, something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do. I gave it up over a year ago, but hoping to get back into it. Then I hope that I will stick with it and it will become a lifelong hobby.
When I was little I wanted to be: a pilot, a singer, or own a clothing boutique.
Things that scare me: Clowns, heights, marriage – and the dreaded day that my Zack goes to doggie heaven…
Guilty Pleasures: Animated movies (Despicable Me is my favorite). Spa Days. Mac and Cheese.
What I would like people to know about me: I have made it through an extremely difficult time in my life, but I’m optimistic, hopeful and looking forward to a bright future. I’m outgoing, resilient, hard-working, and extremely loyal to the few people that I keep close to me. I have big heart and it gets hurt easily…I am not nearly as tough as some people think.