Buy Local Profiles is a series of interviews designed to connect local merchants and service people with the local residents.
I’ve been dying to meet Jackie ever since she and her husband bought Billy’s. I am a fan of her marketing, her window displays, and her bubbly spirit on our Buy Local Facebook Group. I am a big fan… but then I met Christian and I am an even BIGGER fan. They are So. Stinkin’. Cute. Seriously. Love those kids! So, meet Jackie and Christian- they are peeps worth knowing.
What is your name, your business and where are you located?
We are Jackie and Christian Cuesta and our business is Billy’s Board Shop. We are located on Honolulu Ave right next to the Black Cow Restaurant.
Tell me about how you started.
Christian: We wanted to spend more time together as a family. Jackie: Actually it is a pretty sweet story. My dream has always been to have my own shop, starting as a student at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). When I left FIDM I was so disappointed because I thought I’ll never be able to do this. It was overwhelming to me as a 19 years old. So I became a preschool teacher and I did that for like 15 years. We talked about it for a couple of years… he was in construction and it just wasn’t working and we thought, wouldn’t it be so sweet, just to be in Montrose, we live just down the street… One morning we were just having breakfast next-door. I saw the sign and said, “look honey, it’s for sale!! I joked, “we should go in there and ask.. maybe we can afford it!” Really, I was just making a joke. But Christian went in and when he came out and said, “you won’t believe it. We can!”We played with the idea for two or three days , but we saw somebody outside on the phone checking out the store and I looked at him and I said, “let’s do it. Let’s just jump in the pool and let’s see what happens” and he’s like “ok, we’ll take it.” and we gave our deposit that day.
Immediately after we were like, “what did we just DO!!??” But, it is amazing. When I told my sister about buying this shop she burst into tears and said, “this is your DREAM”. Just recently that same sister asked me “what is it like to live your dream?” and I had to tell her it is hard. Really hard. But I think that is why it is called a dream. They are so hard to reach and so many people just kind of give up on their dreams, but it is hard. Kendyl: “But think about it. If your dream was easy, you just write a check and now everything is just fine…your dream would be OVER. Instead, you are living it, which is so cool!” Jackie and Christian:, “Oh, yeah”. It is so rewarding to hear… there are days where I am in tears, I fall apart, I’m in tears… but then there are those people that walk through those doors… it is this community, they boost me up. They come in giving me positive things about how they love what we’ve done, our merchandise, love our demographics- that is what keeps me going. If it wasn’t for all those people telling me these things I would just quit, because I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Why does your business exist?
Jackie: We feel the community needs to know that we are different. The previous owners had a real sports-oriented culture. It was almost like high school in here. We didn’t feel that that really served the demographics of Montrose. We want to serve the whole family- not just the sports minded kids. We will continue to carry the Board Equipment and add scooters, but we are also a boutique that serves everyone else in the family.Christian: We want to serve the community. More than that, though – I want to give the skaters a sense of individuality. I see the potential of these kids, but the skater environment is not really good for them. I guess I want to do Skater Ethos, Montrose Style.
Describe your fan.
Jackie: I think our target is going to be families. We are not just a skater shop. I want to see little kids all they way up to the Grandkids. We target all price points. We have items for small budgets, but we also have more expensive quality items. My job, as a buyer is to provide a range of options that are quality. I try on everything in this store so I can sell each customer the right thing for them.
What do you do that a big box biz can’t?
Christian: We know our prices are competitive, we keep very close tabs on what is happening at other shops and also online. But here you can touch it, try it and Jackie is amazing at putting items together. Online you’re only going to see one piece at time, not an outfit. Jackie: Yes- everything in this store is paired together into a story. My customers come in and say, “you make it easy for me to shop, because I know I can just grab from here. This is what goes together.” I also feel like we are Christian and Jackie. We are going to take care of you.
What is one thing about you that no one really knows about
Jacquie: I was a preschool teacher before, but that this was my first love, my dream. I am a dreamer. Every dream that I’ve ever had I try to grasp with everything that I have. Christian: I am a contractor.
What is the funniest/craziest thing that ever happened in your business
One of our first hires was a family friend name Melissa. She decided- I work at a board shop, I should learn how to skate! She jumped on a little skate board and not 30 seconds later, she fell off and broke her ankle in three places!! She was by my side as we prepared to open, visiting the vendors, shopping for merchandise and just as we get opened she is OUT!!! Boy, that really brings new meaning to the term, “Break a leg” for good luck!
We want to give a shout out to our daughter. She has dealt with such a huge shift in her life. Before she had such a predictable life. I was with her as a 24/7 mom, we did special activities, we were always home at the same time. She is really a tough girl and has adapted very well to this change.
Thanks, Jackie and Christian! I had a ton of fun getting to know you and I think you are an awesome addition to Montrose!
Would you like to live near Billy’s Board Shop?!
Here are homes available in the area. My company, DIGGS, helps connect Cool People with Cool Homes. Let us know how we can help you! (818) 482-1885