Christina and Janie Shoto are not your average family. No dream is impossible with these two, and they have the drive to achieve it — with the business sense of women who have had years of experience and the creative foresight to supply the community with a variety of interesting items.
Christina Shoto, owner of Circa 77, has been interested in vintage clothing since she was really young. She had been collecting pieces for 15 years or more, so by the time she opened her boutique in 2005, she already had a sizeable collection of genuine vintage pieces to put in the boutique.
Christina hails from The Colony, a city south of Denton, and moved here to attend the University of North Texas. The decision to open her boutique was fueled by several factors. She said: “At the time, there were actually a lot of vintage stores, and I wanted to be a part of the community stores and people. The store became available next door, and it was already an established location…so I just thought it was a good time to open.”
Christina’s mom, Janie, and their family moved to The Colony from Laredo in 1991. Janie recently graduated from TWU in 2013 with a degree in Business. With an air of bitter sweetness, Janie shared: “The original plan was to go to school for two years, graduate, and move back home [to Laredo].” But Janie and her daughter fell in love with Denton’s charm and scene for art and music. Janie had originally wanted to get a degree in Interior Design because she owned her own company at the time, but due to an injury, she was unable to complete school in consecutive semesters. When she returned to TWU, the program was no longer offered, but the Business program was still a good fit for her talents.
Christina is working on a major in Sociology and Art History at UNT. She said: “I took history of costume classes, so that really helped to know what eras the clothes were from and different details of designers.” Janie is familiar with vintage designers. The two will work together – Christina will find the pieces, and Janie will identify the designer. The ultimate tag-team, the mother-daughter duo, only planned to stay open while Christina was in school, but the success of the store made them take a step back and reconsider. Janie stated: “We only planned on having it for two years and stop. It did start out [well], and now it’s our livelihood.”
How it works
Christina typically would buy vintage items in bulk, large quantities in whole sale, but the way businesses are run in Denton are evolving and so is the market for vintage pieces. Now she has to dig a little deeper for pieces she wants for the store and seek them out. Christina stated: “It’s a lot more selective, and I’ll have to go and find it, sometimes people bring in stuff.” Her mom chimed in: “A lot more people are bringing stuff in than they used to.”
When asked why she feels like Circa 77 is so successful in the area Christina was quick to say, “We’re just adapting, [and] we’re resilient…I mean, when the economy crashed, it was bad. It’s still recovering, and we now have money coming in slowly back.”
Family is everything
Christina could not have gotten far without the support of her mom. Janie shared: “I always said, what’s the worst that could happen? If you don’t experience failure, how will you know what success is? Sometimes people are just afraid to do anything, so I say just do it. Don’t be afraid.” Her calm demeanor, smile and wisdom tell each person that she knows what she is talking about. From her own risks, failures and successes from running her own business as well, Janie is able to share that advice.
What they do
At Circa 77, Janie, Christina and their interns do anything from custom made items, alterations, rentals and boutique sales. Each summer, they adapt their line to the trends and sell handmade pieces. This past summer they even specialized their own line of halter tops and high-waisted shorts.
From $5 sweaters to rentals for Halloween costumes in period wear, the prices are incredibly manageable for a college student. It’s also a great way to protect our environment – not only can you save money by renting a prom or wedding dress someone will only wear once, reuse prevents an overflow of unused non-biodegradable goods. Something to keep in mind the next time you’re window-shopping in the square or perusing the line of businesses down Oak St.