by Lorie Lewis Ham
I have found that downtowns have some of the most interesting shops, and Reedley, CA is no exception. Recently we chatted with the owner of Cottonwood Clothing in Downtown Reedley, Emma Cuevas. Cottonwood opened in 2019.
Emma: My love of fashion and shopping inspired me to open a clothing store. I’m a mom of five: four girls and one boy. My girls and I love to visit small downtown boutiques. Whether it be at the coast, another state we’ve visited, or here in the Central Valley, we make an effort to shop small, and will continue to support family owned businesses.
KRL: What inspired you to open a clothing store?
KRL: Why Reedley? Are you from Reedley?
Emma: I was born and raised in Reedley. I like to say that I am “Hometown Proud.” All five of my children were born in Reedley. My oldest daughter, Clarissa, works here at Cottonwood and helps me manage the store. Second to the oldest is Emma Celeste. She is currently studying behavioral science at the United States Air Force Academy, although you will also find her helping out at the store when she’s home on break. Both girls are Reedley High graduates. My younger three currently attend KCUSD schools: one at Reedley High, another in Junior High, and the youngest is in second grade. They keep me very busy!
KRL: Do you have a background in retail? Why don’t you tell us a bit about your background and business experience.
Emma: I’ve worn many hats over the years. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, traveled the country as a flight attendant, as well as worked with my husband to run our beekeeping business. As far as retail experience, I worked for Pam Melville on-and-off for 26 years. What I learned from managing the small clothing department at David’s was invaluable. What I admired most about Pam was her ability to work with people from all walks of life, not to mention her notable work ethic. She truly was one of a kind. After Pam’s passing, I left David’s. Shortly after, I turned my dream into a reality, and Cottonwood Clothing was born. I love to bond with customers over fashion, and have created many friendships over the years.
KRL: What do you carry?
Emma: Women’s clothing, accessories, small-batch perfumes, and home fragrances.
KRL: What makes your store unique?
Emma: My daughters and I hand pick every item. We look for quality at an affordable price. Through my travels, I’ve come across many unique brands from perfumes, to candles, as well as clothing. I use every single brand I sell. Many of the brands we offer are from family-owned, small businesses. The most recent addition to our store is a candle line by Soi Candles. They are out of Modesto, and offer pure, clean-burning soy candles that smell divine! A perk we offer is complimentary gift wrapping. I am also happy to cater to our customers’ schedules by offering shopping by appointment.
KRL: Do you have employees or is it just yourself?
Emma: Cottonwood is a family business, so you’ll always see one of my four girls at the store. Whether it’s helping me unpack, or distance-learning on their laptops, my kids are always hanging around, willing to offer a helping hand.
KRL: What things have you done to help survive during the pandemic? Curbside, selling online, etc.
Emma: We tried online, as well as curbside pickup. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great turnout. We pretty much waited it out until it was deemed safe for customers to shop in-store, and have been keeping pretty busy ever since.
KRL: What are some of the things you are doing to keep yourself and your patrons safe right now?
Emma: Not only do I care about keeping my family healthy, but the wellbeing of my customers is extremely important to me. I am constantly disinfecting surfaces, masks are required, and I encourage customers to social distance. I closely monitor the number of people in the store, and follow all state and county regulations.
KRL: Where are you located?
Emma: 1036 G Street, Reedley, CA 93654.
KRL: Where can you be found online?
KRL: Current hours?
Emma: Tues-Thurs: 10-4; Friday: 10-6; Saturday: 10-5; Sunday and Monday: Closed.
KRL: What are your goals for the store?
Emma: I hope that every customer’s purchase puts a smile on their face. My goal is to make my customers feel beautiful and content with their purchases. We would also like to open a second location somewhere in the valley in the near future.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Emma: We are extremely grateful for the wonderful support we’ve received from our customers this past year. Although 2020 was difficult, we reflect back on it with gratitude and love. Without our faithful customers, we would not be where we are today. We are here to stay only because of their support. Wishing health, blessings and hoping for a pandemic-free 2021!