Sometimes finding your passion means spending the weekend at a fashion convention in Las Vegas. At least that was the case for Linfield University junior Josie Ciaciuch, who launched her online clothing store, Precious Collectivein August.
The name of the company comes from Ciaciuch’s grandfather.
“He used to call all of his grandchildren his precious treasures, especially his granddaughters,” Ciaciuch said. “I didn’t necessarily mean precious treasures, because that sounds more antique, maybe to go to an antique shop or a thrift store. So I decided to do Precious Collective Shop. It’s a bit different, but still incorporates that name in some way.
Ciaciuch has one big goal when it comes to her store: to emphasize the idea that anyone, regardless of size, should be able to find cute, affordable, high-quality clothing.
Growing up, Ciaciuch saw the struggles her sister faced when trying to find cute, high-quality plus-size clothing. Compared to the options available to other teens and young adults, plus-size girls only have a handful of stores to shop. Even stores that have a plus size or curvy line are selling clothes that will go out of fashion within a month.
“I wanted to find good quality clothes that plus size girls wanted to go out and wear, whether it was for a night out or casually,” she said.
Ciaciuch first got involved in the fashion industry when she started a thrift business over a year ago. She resold things via Instagram from her own closet, as well as clothes she found at thrift stores. This business was very successful, as it sold out with every delivery of clothes. However, Ciaciuch realized that wasn’t exactly what she wanted to do.
“I loved it for the time being, but after about a year I was really exhausted. Mainly because it was a lot of energy . . . and you communicate one-on-one with your clients. I was taking photos individually, I would post them, write captions, research and source and ship my own product, which was very time consuming,” Ciaciuch said.
It was then that she had the idea of starting her own shop, which put her thrift business on the back burner.
“I pitched the idea for the business in August [of 2021]“said Ciaciuach. “I came up with the name at the end of July and went to my first fashion convention at the end of August.”
This first fashion convention, called Magicwas an overwhelming experience for Ciaciuch.
“You walk in and it’s just this huge convention hall full of little vendor booths, it’s crazy,” Ciaciuch said. “These booths have shelves with one piece of each piece from each of the seasons they created. It was so exciting to mingle with people. Which ended up being one of the reasons I wanted to be [part of] the community just to see everyone so excited.
Following the advice of more experienced attendees and sellers, Ciaciuch bought nothing on day one and took time to absorb everything. Later that evening, she and her sister weighed everything up and decided it was something Ciaciuch wanted to do.
“I remember calling [my dad] and saying, “Dad, that’s what I want to do. I found my passion.’ I was moved and he was crying on the other end of the line. He was so excited and he was so happy,” she said. “I finally found this thing that makes me smile and makes me super excited and passionate.”
Ciaciuch is currently earning her undergraduate degree in psychology at Linfield, but has already decided that she would prefer to continue owning and operating Precious Collective Shop in the future instead of pursuing something related to psychology. Her big goal after graduation is to open a physical store.
With the exception of an occasional pop-up shop, his business is entirely internet-based and operates from the confines of Ciaciuch’s bedroom. All clothes come to her in carefully wrapped packages. She then sorts these packages accordingly using shelves in her closet, shelves and bins under her bed.
To fulfill an order, Ciaciuch packs everything, prints a packing slip, affixes a label to it, and prepares everything to drop off at the post office, all from the comfort of his room.
“[It’s] not too stressful,” she said. “But the hardest part is separating time for work and relaxation because I manage things from my bedroom and sometimes it’s hard to go to bed when there are orders to fill.”
Luckily for Ciaciuch, she has plenty of help and support from her family and friends. Friend, roommate and student at Linfield, Emma Inge is Ciaciuch’s photographer and graphic designer. Inge does all the photography for the business, as well as the graphics for Instagram and the website homepage. Her father is a business owner himself and helps Ciaciuch with finances.
Additionally, she has many friends and family members who model her, including her mother and sister. She loves seeing them modeling clothes because through them she can represent different sizes and ages, reinforcing the idea that Precious Collective Shop has clothes for everyone.
Ciaciuch urges others considering starting their own business to “go for it.”
“If it’s a passion for you, do it,” she said. “Don’t let anyone stop you. If you’re excited about it and no one can tell you otherwise, if that’s your goal, if that’s your dream, you shouldn’t let anyone else dictate that.