Decades ago, Lisa McGuthry’s grandmother sold peanuts at baseball and football games in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. She grew her operation by employing many neighborhood children and provided many with their very first job.

In 2002, Lisa decided to take a page from her grandmother’s book when she founded her own business, Our Favorite Things Boutique, a shop that offers comfortable clothing, flattering accessories and all-natural beauty products.

Lisa is also a part of JumpStart’s Core City: Cleveland Impact Program, an intensive business assistance program designed to support the development and growth of businesses located within Cleveland’s core neighborhoods.

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Lisa to discuss how Our Favorite Things Boutique inspires and empowers all women to look, feel and be beautiful, and how the Core City: Cleveland program is helping her business reach new heights.

What inspired you to create Our Favorite Things Boutique? What separates Our Favorite Things Boutique from your competition?
Being a plus size woman, I would go into stores and I wouldn’t find clothes that were stylish or comfortable for me to wear. These selections didn’t depict who I was as an individual, and I wanted to inspire and empower other women to understand that no matter what size you are, you can be stylish, you can beautiful and you can be comfortable. I started Our Favorite Things Boutique to do just that.

We provide a unique shopping experience for our customers. We like to call ourselves relationship managers because we build relationships with all of our customers. You’re not just coming in to get an outfit one time. We really focus on brand loyalty and bringing customers back time after time to shop with us. These relationships have been so important to our business.

What have been some of your biggest takeaways from the Core City: Cleveland Impact Program?
The Impact Program has been simply amazing—from the mentors and class instructors to the content that we learn every single week about building our brand, knowing our target market, stating our value proposition, etc.

Here at JumpStart, you actually learn who your target market is, you learn how to market your business, you learn how to get your financial projections in place even though it’s a hard thing to do. These things become valuable tools to help to grow your business.

The Core City team really does care about the individuals in the program. They want to see your business succeed and it’s amazing that so many people are onboard to help you and that their help is free! It’s amazing that someone wants to help your business grow and they’re not asking for anything in return.

In your opinion, what’s the most important thing that Core City: Cleveland offers to entrepreneurs?
I believe that providing ongoing support to entrepreneurs is key. Sometimes you can feel like you’re on an island. But here, you don’t have to feel that way because there’s someone there on the team that can assist you with anything you have going on in your business. I think that it’s so important as an entrepreneur to know you’re not alone, and JumpStart doesn’t let you feel alone.

What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is looking for assistance but isn’t sure where to go?
I would give any entrepreneur the advice to go talk to someone at JumpStart. They can help you with the smallest steps of just getting started, and that’s the key thing, getting started. The tasks that you’re given each time you meet with your advisor enlighten you, help you to grow and make you hungry for more.

What are the future plans for your business?
We plan on opening several more locations throughout the city of Cleveland, giving other entrepreneurs a place to showcase their talents and their products. We just want to grow our business, and we see our business even moving into different states. We simply want to create a movement that allows all women to look, feel and be beautiful.

COre City: Cleveland

Gloria Ware

Gloria leads JumpStart’s strategic efforts to create inclusive, high-impact entrepreneurial ecosystems. She brings a wealth of finance and business development expertise to the organization, along with a passion for community engagement.