Charming gift ideas | Kingston Girl | December

The holidays are fast approaching and the next woman in business I’m highlighting is a go-to-girl for great holiday gifts.

I know I will be crossing off some of my list with some of her Charm School Charms for a few special girlfriends I have.

Jennifer Eckert and Jason, her husband of 15 years, along with their two daughters ages 7 and 13, moved to town in 1999. The draw of the Kingston area might have had something to with the fact that her husband is from Bainbridge Island.

Eckert and her family stayed and began planting roots in their new town. Like most business owners or people that invest in the Kingston Community, Eckert finds it sad to see so many of the original buildings in Kingston sitting empty. She would love to see those buildings refurbished and repurposed like they have done with the Kingston Firehouse theater and the Oak Table. Acknowledging that times are tough and that it won’t happen overnight, we all try to stay hopeful that a brighter future is just around the corner.

“I have high hopes for this beautiful little community by the water,” Eckert said.

Some of the things Eckert loves most about Kingston is the small town feeling, the fact that her two daughters get to grow up in a school where the families are friends. Growing up in a military family, Eckert moved to a new town almost every school year, which makes her appreciate the fact that her girls will have long lasting friendships.

Getting to live in a neighborhood with other families but still feel like you’re in the country is another bonus to the charm of this town, that the neighbors’ chickens tend to wander into their yard, having lots of friends and families to “potluck” with on the weekends. Seeing people you know wherever you go. These are the many reasons why Eckert wouldn’t trade her life in Kingston.

Most who are connected to Kingston see it is having trouble supporting itself right now. Many businesses are struggling and not doing well. The community makes a more conscious effort to embrace itself and take better care of it’s own. It’s not always cheapest or easiest to buy local, But if everyone made a choice to make a few of their monthly purchases locally, rather than go to a nearby “big business” store, it could really make a big difference in our town. It is that mindset that Eckert has and is teaching her family.

Starting her own business is something she stumbled into. It began when a good friend of Eckert’s, Kay Mork, opened a boutique in Poulsbo a few years back. Together with all their talent the two of them found some interesting jewelry pieces to sell in the store but had a hard time filling orders so Eckert decided to try and make them herself. Four years later and she is still going strong.

Some of the ups of having her business are a great sense of accomplishment. Making something beautiful, then the positive feedback that she gets from customers all the while seeing them smile Eckert can’t help but feel good about it. Her photography is another one of her passions. It’s fun for Eckert to use this passion to come up with new and exciting ways to photograph her wonderful creations.

The downside of having a business is simply not having enough time to do all of the things that Eckert would love to be able to do. In her daily life Eckert adds another thing to do by helping out her friends that own the Cup & Muffin, as a barista.

That combined with all that goes along with managing a home and a family, volunteering at her girls’ schools ending with their activities takes up an enormous amount of time. In the three-ring circus of life, Eckert is the ring leader.

Working with her two daughters schools by giving then donations to use for their fundraisers. Her heart is always around supporting local friends and families when they are troubled with a hardship or unexpected family emergency. Eckert finds great joy in watching the community come together to help our own in a time of need. “This is something amazing to see.”

In the future Charm School Charms will develop a larger online presence, beginning a start to a much larger commitment to the business itself. Eventually she wants to offer handmade products online and at various outlets in town. She is looking into exposing her work to the international market.

“I believe I can accomplish this with some serious online marketing and sales efforts,” she said. “It would be very exciting for me to know that my jewelry is being worn all around the world.” 

What Eckert has learned from owning her own business is that no matter what you have a passion for, with a little bit of effort it can be turned into a business opportunity as well as monetary income. Eckert thinks that each and every one of us is creative in our own way and has the ability to run a business. 

“There is great opportunity to get your work out there very inexpensively if you utilize the internet to its full potential,” she said. “If I can do it, anybody can.”

Staying local Eckert admits that she is a very creative person that is always interested in new and exciting things. Having the ability to make her own decisions, as well as make and sell what she is able to create is truly a rewarding experience for Eckert.

“To see and hear people comment on my work around town provides a great source of pride in me. Plus the flexibility it provides me and family is a huge bonus.”

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