Gean & Olive is now open in downtown Oakland.
The shop is located in the same storefront as Craeve & Co.
at 204 E. Alder St.
“I opened Craeve & Co. about February of 2019 and part of my vision of Craeve was always to expand into smaller subsidiaries or smaller divisions of products and companies or things I’m passionate about,” said owner Chelsea Stuck. “So I always wanted and had this dream to be out consulting and on my own and building and helping businesses, but also I always had retail aspirations.”
Last Christmas season, Stuck experimented with a pop-up shop in the front of the office where she featured her homemade candy from a family recipe.
“I sold that and it was just sort of my testing out what it would feel like to operate a retail and really just kind of wrap my head around it,” she said. “I’ve been making candy and giving out corporate gifts for over 10 years. All my corporate clients in my previous world got used to me bringing hard tack and different caramels.”
About seven years ago, Stuck said she started tweaking the recipes into fun flavors like maple bourbon crunch.
“I couldn’t fathom what brand I would put that under and how that would fit in the scheme of making this transition,” Stuck said. “So when I tested it last winter, the response was so huge … not only did I enjoy the retail process but I also enjoyed that people were enjoying that product.”
Going into this year, Stuck knew that she still wanted to transform into retail, but she thought she would do a pop-up shop again and play it by ear. Then COVID-19 hit and eventually led to an increase in tourism in the area.
“I thought, you know what, it’s time to do it,” she said. “If nothing else, that gives time for the brand and the company to get settled. So that’s kind of how we got to here. I just decided that now’s the time on a small scale.”
The store had a soft opening right before July 4. Stuck partnered with several local female entrepreneurs.
“If I find product that’s made locally by a woman entrepreneur, I try to bring those products in, along with other products that I found fun and exciting and I thought people would enjoy,” she said.
Current featured businesses and products are For the Love of Deep Creek, Jessica Fike Photography, Wellness Living Company, Girls in a Box Silversmith and Sky Valley Bees.
If anyone has a local product that they manufacture, Stuck invites them to email firstname.lastname@example.org
to set up an appointment or stop in on a Saturday.
The store name is in honor of Stuck’s grandmother and great-aunt.
“You’ll notice that in my branding, two things always happen,” Stuck said. “One, I always play with the spelling of words. I’m playful with that and I always utilize the ampersand. My grandmother and my great aunt are who taught me how to make caramels. This fall season, that will be my signature product that I bring to Gean & Olive.”
Stuck’s grandmother was named Gene, which is predominantly a male spelling. She never legally changed it, but used the more traditional spelling of Jean.
“So in ode to that I changed the spelling to Gean & Olive,” Stuck said. “My great aunt (Olive) lived next door to me and my grandmother lived a stone’s throw down from us and outside of my parents, they really raised me. So these strong females who were in my life and had a lot of influence on me ... I just thought that it would be great to do something kind of in their honor for where I’ve gotten to today. They also taught me what would be my signature line.”
Stuck says the expansion of Craeve was something that she planned for from the beginning and she is excited for it.
“Right before I launched Craeve, a lot of people thought I was launching a caramel company,” she said. “So it’s fun to come full circle to have a retail shop now that can highlight those products.”
Stuck said she is happy to bring another business to downtown and help give back to the local economy.
“The sky’s the limit,” she said. “It’s been a really fun journey.”
Throughout COVID-19, she said her advice to other businesses is to “operate as efficiently, smartly and really low budget as you can. It’s about staying the course and staying as best you can in business and not giving up.”
Stuck said she has found that businesses are adapting just as hers has.
“That’s what’s going to get us through this unprecedented time,” she said. “And I’m really thankful for it. I’m extremely grateful to my family and my friends who have been supportive of me and all of my entrepreneurial endeavors, because there’s a lot of them.”
In fact, she stated that she is working on something else related to technology and expects to make another announcement in January or so.
She also appreciates the support from local business owners.
“Everyone has been incredibly helpful,” she said. “That’s been one of the best gifts I got in coming home, was the community really embracing me and helping me in starting this new life here.”
Regular fall hours at Gean & Olive are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., subject to change.
During Autumn Glory, special hours will be Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Samples of caramels and elderberry syrup will be offered and new products will be on display.