In a stadium packed with people wearing the same colors, it can be hard to stand out.
Florida State University graduate Chelsea Havelka and her husband, Matt Sluizer, a fellow Seminole, set out to change that. During the frenzy of the 2013-14 Seminole football season, which culminated in a national championship for the team, the couple founded the company Bows and Arrows Boutique.
Since then, the online women's apparel boutique has sold game day items for female fans who want to look fashionable while cheering on their favorite team. Havelka, a former Old Navy store manager, built a strong following online. So strong it got her thinking about the retail big leagues: a real store.
“That was my long-term goal,” Havelka tells Coffee Talk. “I always wanted to have my own brick-and-mortar store.”
The first Bows and Arrows Boutique brick-and-mortar store opened July 1 in The Market at University Town Center in east Manatee County, just outside Lakewood Ranch. Havelka says the opening went well, with members of the Sarasota Seminole Club and other customers coming to shop on the first day.
Since the company started, Havelka has expanded the product line online, and now in the store, to include apparel representing a cross state rival — the University of Florida. She also now offers regular fashion items, too.
Havelka would like to sell items for the University of South Florida and in the store at University of Central Florida and online for items for additional schools in the Southeastern Conference. She's also already thinking about the location of a potential second store, possibly in Gainesville or Tallahassee.
The company experiences seasonality, but not the same seasonality other businesses in the region might face. “Definitely the busiest season is football,” Havelka says. “The majority of our traffic for sports items is August through January.”
But she also sees sales spikes when teams are doing well in other sports, such as when the Florida Gators baseball team won the 2017 College World Series at the end of June. “I think right now our biggest challenge is we have a big game day following, and we're trying to reach out to regular Sarasota residents because we have some great fashion items as well,” she says.