Theresa Ritzman began working at Connections, a retail store in downtown State College, in 2013 while she was a student at Penn State University. During the three years she worked at Connections, a local fixture that specialized in men’s formal wear and women’s accessories and attire, Theresa realized her passion for working within the fashion industry.
After graduating from Penn State, Ritzman utilized her degree in Marketing and Management to serve as the Operations Manager for a clothing company in Los Angeles. Her time in California not only provided Theresa with valuable skills and experience, but also the realization that she wanted to run her own business. When the opportunity to purchase Connections, her former place of employment, became a viable opportunity in 2017, Theresa returned to State College to begin the transition of ownership.
Ritzman served as the Manager of Connections from 2017 – 2019 while she learned the process of wholesale buying and managing a business. After learning about the Penn State SBDC from a friend, Theresa sought the help of consultants Will Hooten and John Peterson to refine her vision and business plan. With their support, Theresa was not only able to develop her business plan but also determine financial projections and access market research. She also utilized the services of the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic, located at the Happy Valley LaunchBox Powered by PNC Bank, to establish her LLC and sales agreement. She also utilized the services of the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic, located at the Happy Valley LaunchBox Powered by PNC Bank, to establish her LLC and sales agreement.
In November of 2019, Theresa’s loan was approved and her dream of owning a business became a reality. “It has been a pleasure to work with Theresa,” says consultant Will Hooten. “Her loan went through relatively quickly thanks to her hard work and the great commercial lending community in State College.”
Ritzman’s vision for Connections is to provide customers with quality pieces that are personally selected by her as a buyer, priced reasonably, and tailored to her unique customers’ style and body type. By focusing on a specific set of merchandise, Theresa has proven that less can be more when it comes to a providing a customized shopping experience.
As she sets her sights on the future, Theresa plans to expand her services to include online sales so those who leave the area can remain customers from afar. Ritzman also plans to market her goods to a broader audience. “Connections is not just for college students,” she says. “It’s a great place for local moms and daughters to shop, too.”
If you stop by Connections, you will find Ritzman and her chocolate Lab Archie (a fixture at the store) fulfilling Theresa’s dream: providing a customized boutique experience without boutique prices.