Zaria & Bella's Gift Shop

Lance Casey and Mike Casey, the owners of Zaria & Bella’s Gift Shop, shared their inspiring story about business growth and giving back to the community with the oGoing team.

1. Can you tell us about you and your business?

Zaria & Bella’s Gift Shop started out of our attic in July 2011, after we relocated to Schenectady, New York from Geneva. Soon the center of downtown Schenectady would become the location for our first established store front. Within a year we out grew our original store and held our Grand Re-Opening on November 17, 2012 at our current location (135 Jay Street). 

2. How is your business doing?

Zaria and Bella’s has been in business for over two years now, and due to the overwhelming support from the community, we have been able to give back through various projects and volunteer organizations. Such organizations include Schenectady Pride in support of the LGBT community; the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and The Schenectady Accountability Board (CAB). Additionally, we have worked hard to bring the residents of Schenectady County different forms of entertainment by working closely with other supportive businesses in the city for events like “Dine on Jay” and our latest achievement the “Jay Street Book Fest”.

3. What are your products or services, and key benefits?

As the owners of Zaria & Bella’s Gift Shop we believe in a socially responsible form of business enterprise, one where by providing positive opportunity for people in the community, the business grows. Zaria & Bella’s Gift Shop currently strives to get recognition for carrying products that are American Made, Fair Trade; provide marginalized and discriminated person’s employment opportunities and product lines that share the same self-sustainable ecological values of the owners.

4. Who are your customers? Can you share a brief success story? How do you find new customers?

While we are always seeking to reach into new markets, we understand our core customers are those in search of gifts that are different, unique and whimsical. These customers come to us because we do have those gifts, and our customer understand that our products likely help a disadvantaged group within society, or that we will continue volunteering time within the community to raise it up. It is this core philosophy we have, that helps us to grow and to find new customers. While we currently are a “word by mouth” operation, we have exceedingly increased our footprint on various social media platforms to raise our awareness, all self-taught.

5. What is your biggest challenge? What help do you need to overcome this?

What we have found is that our largest challenge was getting a dependable and reliable source of management information and assistance, to operate a small business with the confinements that we have relating to capital and ability to market ourselves. While there are numerous publications and claims for expertise, each failed to accept the reality of the challenges for a true “boutique small business”. In order to meet this challenge we stuck with our core philosophy of helping the community around us, and we strived to create events, and organizations within the community, that would in the long run drive our business marketing. By sticking with our main concepts, we have managed to increase product lines, and end up nominated for “Best New Business” in October 2013.

Connect with Lance Casey and Mike Casey on oGoing

Zaria & Bella’s Gift Shop