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Meet Jeana Chavez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeana Chavez.

Hi Jeana, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My husband Christian & I are proud small business owners of The Something Sweet Shop located inside San Diego’s iconic Seaport Village. We are a couple of 80’s kids that grew up in South Bay San Diego, met in class at Southwestern College and bonded on a mutual goal to transfer and graduate from San Diego State University.

While we attended school, we worked alongside a few small businesses and hoped one day we would branch off to create our own space that celebrates what makes San Diego America’s Finest City. As we reflect on the small businesses that are no longer here in the South Bay, we shift our focus on visiting and supporting the ones who are still going. We support those who are brave to risk it all for a new start-up and journey. As millennials, we are going after the “American Dream” pursuing every fruitful opportunity to learn and grow. While we are raising two small boys, we want our shop to reflect us as individuals and create a family-friendly store that focuses on a positive environment and sweet experience for all who visit. My Papa’s Navy career opened a golden opportunity to take his family from the Philippines to Hawaii and then eventually settle into San Diego. I can only imagine it was not an easy thing to leave your hometown and embark on a path for your children, but it meant that their children and generations after would have better opportunities in life. I am incredibly grateful for their sacrifices and for the San Diego community that helped raise us because it truly takes a village.

I grew up in South Bay, San Diego with my two parents, sisters, grandparents, and extended family close by. My parents met in high school, married young and started their family. My dad worked his way up several fast-food jobs and eventually became Store General Manager in Coronado for All-In-One. My mom stayed home with all of us until I went off to kindergarten and she became a Preschool Teacher. Both of my parents worked equally as hard to show us strong values, hard work ethic and importance of expressing creativity in everything we do.

Early in life, I found my passion in art and spent most days drawing or creating projects. We never had or needed much, and we always found gratitude and appreciation from what our city and community provided. In 4th grade, I applied for the district’s tuition-free Visual and Performing Arts Program. At a young age, we were fully emerged in arts, culture, and performances. We would put together shows twice a year and invite students and the public for a free Broadway show. We learned how to multi-task and what meant to commit to putting in the work if you are passionate about your skill. We studied theater, visual art, dance, and music and discovered a greater appreciation of each subject. Last year we reunited virtually for a 20-year reunion with our inspiring teacher, Ivy Sayers. It was incredible to see we all still apply the arts in our daily lives today and thankful for all the life lessons taught beyond the standard textbooks. Our program was unique and diverse with different races, backgrounds, and talents. I am extremely honored to have been part of that program that personally helped shape me to being the person I am today.

As I continued my education with Chula Vista’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, I was taught if I wanted something I had to work for it including contributing to the costs for special clubs and activities. In high school, I worked with my dad at Charger home games at The Q facilitating parking and at Petco Park for Padres games. Having those firsthand experiences working with the public made me fall in love with meeting new people. After high school, I worked with Sweetwater Union High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Department. I also took on jobs in addition to gain experience, learn different job skills and earned money for college. With each position I held, I took on with pride and accepted each task as a learning lesson. Before transferring to San Diego State, I settled into a career path selling high-end sunglasses at The Hotel Del. After a few months of working, I was offered a position where I could manage my own store location at Seaport Village. As I applied every lesson I learned from other mentors and jobs, I really enjoyed working customer service and took ownership of my role. I sought out additional business opportunities for the company and eventually helped open several other locations while staffing, merchandising, and buying the inventory.

After becoming a mom, I had the opportunity to take my baby with me to work and together, we visited the stores during the early mornings and stayed up late nights to do the buying, payroll, and all other business tasks. At the same time, Christian left his position from the insurance field to open and manage a new retail store for the company. Together, we designed the store from the ground up including the fixtures, inventory, and staff. We stepped into our roles to help grow and maintain the business as if it were our own. I knew in my heart that together we could eventually open our own store because we worked so well together. As parents, friends, and partners, we equally put in maximum effort everyday to show our kid’s its possible to one day work for yourself if you are not afraid of putting in the hard work.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
We opened our store in November 2019 and were faced with not only the obstacles and challenges of being a brand-new start-up but also trying to figure out how to balance raising a family at the same time. Together, we experienced three major life events before, during and after the pandemic.

Two months prior to opening the shop, my dad passed away unexpectedly and ironically, it happened the same day he turned in his final retirement papers. Instantly we were reminded the importance of living our life to the fullest and to value each moment we have with those we love. Five months after opening, we shut down for 66 days for the pandemic. We took that time to figure out what was and was not working within our business and made changes accordingly. We opened a secondary business to create additional income and focused on making significant changes to the store to adapt to the new retail challenges due to Covid-19. Raising a family at the same time as being business owners meant working double around the clock just to make sure all needs are met. We instantly became teachers to our kids and took turns bouncing ideas to see how we could make it out. We asked for help from our landlord, The Port of San Diego and were thankfully connected with Lucy Contreras. As a Program Manager for The Port, she provided a wonderful support system and even went out of her way to support our shop during that time by purchasing custom orders for holiday gifts. We will never forget the support and compassion she showed us and other Seaport tenants during this difficult time.

Everyday we are growing, learning, and teaching along the way. We approach every situation in life as a school group project and take value in each other’s skills and ideas. We are forever thankful for the incredible lessons we have taken from all former teachers and mentors and our goal is to provide a community store that reflects who we are as individuals and a safe place for our kids and their friends to visit.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Our people, products and atmosphere are what make our shop unique. We could not do this without the help of our staff. We are grateful to the people who work with us, providing amazing customer service and a positive experience for our customers. As business owners, we make sure our staff knows how much they are loved and appreciated. If we are not at the store, we trust that our customers are getting top-notch service and experience. If we can lead by example to our staff, we hope to mentor and teach them the same values we were taught. That means we are also sweeping, recycling, restocking, and merchandising daily to lead by example.

As a family, we work on inventory purchases every week. Our candy selection is always a fun assortment mix of stuff we loved growing up on and greatest hits pulled from every generation. We offer large bulk orders for parties, schools and celebrations and can customize labels and packaging to fit those events. We also love working with a handful of local artisans to bring in something sweet you can only find exclusively in our shop.

As kids, we did not visit candy shops instead we would flag down the ice cream man in our neighborhood and enjoy our sweets inside our dad’s garages with our friends. The store is a similar vibe with classic music and throwback feels. We love seeing people genuinely have the best time when they visit because it brings back so many good memories from their youth. Having a storefront in the town, we grew up means we get to reconnect with people from our past walks of life including seeing favorite teachers, friends, and colleagues.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
When it comes to the role of luck, I do not believe it plays a role in life or in business. We are extremely fortunate to be able to live out our dreams. When you balance a lot of responsibilities, it is crucial to have a strong family to lean on. I believe that by maintaining a successful business, you 100 hundred percent need to dedicate time, energy, and effort every single day. Having the support of our family is essential in making sure we depend on one another to stay focused and stay on track towards our goals. The best part of running a small business with our family is that we get to spend as much time as possible around the people we love, and our children get to be involved every step along the way. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our entire family for believing in us and for the unlimited amount of support, encouragement, and love.

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Image Credits:

Rissa Mac

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