Running a business takes passion, and for Hanna Stover, that passion was sparked nine years ago when she began working for Co2 The Unique Boutique in Lock Haven, PA. To expand her knowledge and further her career, Hanna sought out various certifications in gems and jewelry, making her an expert on the topics.
Armed with the skills, knowledge, and experience she gained at CO2, Hanna decided to take her passion for jewelry to the next step: she would open her own online fashion boutique. She started working with Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultant, Tom Keiffer in 2018 to develop a business plan and launch the operation, to be named, Momoyo Otsu after Hanna’s Japanese grandmother. The name Momoyo translates to peach in English, so Hanna incorporated the fruit into her business logo, thus paying further homage to her loved one.
Hanna experienced great success upon launch of Momoyo Otsu. The boutique’s sales grew, and Hanna remained the lead salesperson at Co2. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
As a result of the changing circumstances, Co2 decided to close their doors at the Lock Haven location. Being an optimist, Hanna saw this moment as an opportunity to focus on Momoyo Otsu full-time and expand the online boutique. With the void left in the Lock Haven community from the loss of Co2, Hanna realized the need for a brick and mortar store and began exploring the possibility with her husband Jordan.
Jordan enjoys renovating homes, so when the perfect storefront became available during the pandemic, he promised Hanna he could make the space look exactly as she pictured. The couple toured the facility and worked with the landlords to negotiate a lease contingent upon financing.
Hanna finalized her business plan and financial projections with Tom and applied for a COVID-19 Commercial Loan Program through the City of Lock Haven, ultimately receiving $50,000 at 1% interest. Additionally, Tom was able to help Hanna and Jordan apply for a Clinton County CARES Act Grant, which resulted in close to $7,000 in additional funding.
Hanna and Jordan knew that launching a storefront during a pandemic wasn’t going to be easy, but they set out to design a space that would match their vision for the business. During countless hours of work, Hanna and Josh uncovered the original tin ceilings that had been hidden under a drop ceiling and installed hardwood flooring to create a more refined space.
But developing their store front wasn’t the only challenge Hanna and Jordan faced. When it came to attending the trade shows where they identified new product lines, the couple had several new travel restrictions and strict protocols to navigate. However, with Hanna’s positive mindset, she once again turned a negative into an opportunity; throughout her travels she sold glamorized PPE from her hotel room and handed out business cards to gain new clients from across the county.
In a year where so many negative things have happened, this business is a true gem for the Lock Haven area. Hanna and Jordan have set their grand opening date for November 13, 2020 and have already secured interest from 650 individuals.