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An Interview with Salty Not Sweet Boutique

An Interview with Salty Not Sweet Boutique

The Lakewood Times had the chance to interview Salty Not Sweet Boutique on 13339 Madison Ave. We asked owner Candra Squire about her background, life as a small business owner in Lakewood, and advice for anyone who is looking to become a business owner themselves one day.

Salty Not Sweet is truly different from other boutiques. “Everything is handmade in the US by small makers and artists,” Squire tells us. Each item sold is different from the other, but when asking her what her favorite item in the store is, she tells us “There’s no way to pick one. We have so many fabulous things, I love them all.” If you took a look inside for yourself, you would agree too!

Lakewood is packed with different small businesses so when asked why Squire chose Lakewood, she simply said, “I started on Waterloo on the east side, then I spent a decade on W. 25th in Ohio City before coming to Lakewood. I live in Lakewood and I saw the community of new shops popping up on Madison and I knew Salty would fit right in. Plus, I can ride my bike to work.”

With this city being a hotspot for shops and boutiques, we were curious to know if there were any big competitors. “Since Salty has opened others have followed suit to have local handmade shops and I’ve seen lots of them close. I don’t like to compete with other businesses, I like to compliment them. If another shop carries the same vendor I do, I suggest we carry different items by them so we don’t over-saturate the market. The truth is we need each other to survive and bring people out to shop at all of our stores. We share our audiences with each other and in the end, it creates a larger audience for all of us,” Squire tells us. 

In 2020, when Covid took over, millions of small businesses were greatly impacted. “Covid totally affected sales because obviously we had to close but I pivoted. I came into the shop every day and I started really interacting on Instagram since I had the time and I started doing a thing where people could send me a message and I’d send their loved one’s cards and stickers and gifts in the mail since we couldn’t see them in person. It was more personal than just sending something through Amazon and I think it was helping to remind people to just tell people you’re thinking of them. The world is always spinning so fast that when it suddenly stopped, it was easier to remember to be thoughtful,” she explains. 

“I opened the brick-and-mortar in 2010 and it’s grown every year. I’ve gotten new makers and artists every year growing the collection and sales,” Squire says after asking about her business’s success so far. But when asked about where she sees Salty Not Sweet in the future, she says, “Literally no idea. The world changes, tastes change, habits change, so the only thing I can say for sure is I have no idea.

The Lakewood Times was curious to know how she started in this line of work, and Squire responded that “I started making ridiculous, terrible, and inappropriate greeting cards in 2009 for fun. I vended at a craft show and they were very well received and I started to wonder why there was no store that you could buy handmade things year-round. At that time it was just the holidays that had shows and the rest of the year nothing.” She then goes on to say, “During that first craft show I referenced about someone asked me how I would describe my greetings cards and I said they’re salty not sweet and it stuck. It’s also my personality.”

Becoming a business owner can take a lot of work and can become stressful at some points, so we asked Squire for some advice. “Probably DON’T be like me. I did zero research, zero business plan, zero planning. I had an idea and I just jumped right in head first. So I’d say do the research, but also, if you feel it in your guts then do it. It’s not for nothing.” She then goes on to say, “I was in nursing school right before I opened, my grandfather died and I was settling his estate in Texas and I missed fall semester so I figured I’d just start again in the spring and in between there I thought, life’s too short, I don’t want to be a nurse, so I opened a shop instead.” Opening a small business takes a lot of motivation. “It’s a labor of love for all the makers and artists that I represent, some who have no other selling outlet besides shows. I want to support as many small businesses as I can,” Squire tells us.

Lakewood is such a lively community, and it is home to so many local and small businesses. Salty Not Sweet Boutique is just another great example of why Lakewood is such a desired city to live in. Next time you are walking or biking through Lakewood, make sure you stop and take a look at Salty Not Sweet!

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About the Contributor
Samantha Facaros, Student Reporter
Class of 2023!

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