Kent State graduates open jewelry boutique


Rachael Le Goubin

Co-owner Katie Cvijovic explains what it took for her and her sister Kelly to open their business, Wicked Sugar Fashion Jewelry & Accessories. The sisters were both Fashion Merchandising majors at Kent State and graduated in 2011. Wicked Sugar opened nine months ago. Photo by Rachel Le Goubin.

Alex Lomicka

Many fashion students aspire to one day launch a clothing line or open their own boutique. For sisters Kelly and Katie Cvijovic, their fashion-school dream has become a reality. The sisters, both graduates of the Kent State School of Fashion and Design, opened a jewelry and accessory boutique, Wicked Sugar, in Strongsville nine months ago.

Wicked Sugar Fashion Jewelry & Accessories’ unique moniker references the store’s wicked (or trendy) merchandise. Sugar is another name for bling. The Cvijovics chose to sell accessories rather than clothing because they wanted to appeal to a wider range of customers.

The sisters said customer service is a key aspect of Wicked Sugar’s appeal. Katie Cvijovic said they strive to make the store feel welcoming, and she takes pride in knowing her customers on a personal level.

“My sister and I are in here everyday, so we can take the time to talk to people,” Katie Cvijovic said. “It’s not like we come check on it one day a week.”

Kelly Cvijovic said Wicked Sugar offers shoppers a wide range of products at affordable prices.

“We always try to offer something new and in small quantities, so that way, when you go out that night, someone will say, ‘Wow, where’d you get that?’ It’s unique at a great price,” Kelly Cvijovic said. “We’re not high-end. We’re very aware of the economy.”

Kelly Cvijovic said she and her sister are aware that accessories complement clothing and clothing styles are constantly changing

Customers want trendy accessories, but they also look for pieces that will work even after the trends change.

“It’s not so targeted,” Kelly Cvijovic said. “That’s why we stayed away from clothing. With clothing you really do need a niche market because of sizing and styling. It would exclude so many customers, and we didn’t want to do that. We feel accessories are for everybody.”

Katie Cvijovic, the younger sister, said she quit her job at Target after two years of working there to devote her time to opening and growing Wicked Sugar. She loved her job at Target, but opening the boutique was an opportunity that when it presented itself was too good to pass up.

“I thought it was something I would do later in life, once I had a family and was more established,” Katie Cvijovic said.

She said deciding to quit her job was the biggest challenge associated with opening the boutique.

“Getting it off the ground was the hardest part,” Katie Cvijovic said. “Quitting my job and not getting paid but still working everyday was scary.”

Kelly and Katie said they both enjoyed their time at Kent State and took away a lot of inspiration from the classes and professors

One professor they found especially inspirational was associate professor Catherine Leslie, who has been a fashion merchandising professor for more than 10 years.

“I remember Katie well,” Leslie said. “We discussed her goals a few times. Both sisters, though, always seemed to have such enthusiasm and a good business sense. It does not surprise me that they opened a store.”

Katie Cvijovic said she learned from Leslie that there is more to a career than just a paycheck.

“Dr. Leslie said to me, ‘Sometimes life will take you down a different path and won’t realize it,” Kelly Cvijovic said. “It’s about the journey. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in having a good job and making money that you need to focus on fulfilling your happiness too.”

Kelly Cvijovic said one of the sisters’ goals is to prove Midwesterners have as much style as fashion hubs like New York or Los Angeles.

“People should know that Kent is a great school. I know some people think you should go to New York, but that’s not necessarily true, “ Kelly Cvijovic said. “There is so much great talent that has come out of Ohio. I know other alumni that are successful as well. Everyone has the ability; you don’t have to be some New York superstar.”

Contact Alex Lomicka at [email protected].