We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Allegretti and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think there is always a necessary element of risk with any success you hope to achieve. If everything was simple or guaranteed everyone would do it quite frankly. For me personally I decided to leave my career in the Midwest (I owned and insurance agency for 22 yrs) and move to Florida to pursue my dream of creating a boutique that speciaizes in unique and ethically made products. I wanted to find a way to give back and create a new business model. That required my leaving everything I knew and a steady and lucrative career to enter into a completely unknown world. Many principles in business apply universally to any venture but short of that I was learning and making it up as I went along. The beauty of it for me was I wasn’t as afraid to make mistakes along the way knowing that ultimately you learn from them and apply those lessons to future plans and ideas. When you go out on your own you are much more in control of both the perks and pitfalls of your decisions and I found that to be very fulfilling as I built Market Earth.
What should our readers know about your business?
Market Earth is a gift and apparel boutique in Historic Downtown Fort Myers, FL that I opened in March 2013. When I opened the store I wanted to create a place of fun, unique, “where’d you get that” kind of items that also gave back in some way. I wanted people to realize that there are amazing companies and products out in the market place that didn’t require you to sacrifice quality for social consciousness. It became a mission to seek out the ordinary, small family and local businesses and global fair trade partners with those unique items you didn’t find everywhere. As we’ve grown over the years I’ve expanded into apparel, men’s and pet accessories, all with the same idea in mind. The most difficult part has always been that by trying to find one of a kind or unique items I ended up with a lot of vendors/partners along the way. This model doesn’t allow you to go to a single wholesale warehouse and load up your inventory. Each product and vendor is individually chosen and many of them may only sell one product. But if its the right product its worth the extra effort. Being really organized is incredibly important when you are trying to keep a diverse model like this going and can be overwhelming sometimes but it creates that very special customer experience that has created repeat customers for years looking for that next new and different gift idea.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m rather partial to my adopted hometown of Downtown Fort Myers and the Historic District. It’s a very eclectic, rather bohemian vibe and you will always find live music, artists/galleries and one of a kind stores down First St. Event nights are a staple with Art Walk and Music Walk year round on Fridays.and open mic music nights several times a week. There are free concerts in the Patio de Leon every Saturday day night and several local bars and restaurants host live music daily such as the Twisted Vine & Barrel Room (great Blues and Jazz) and Space 39 ( more indy and edgy live music) There are so many restaurants to choose from, many theme oriented, but my favorites for sit down would definitely be Bruno’s of Brooklyn for authentic Italian, TenTwentyFive for a great gastropub experience ,Downtown House of Pizza for the best New York Style Pizza around and Twisted Vine for elegant dining. Then you can step on over to the local speakeasy at the 86 Room for authentic bar and live music charm Check out the Florida Repertory Theater for live professional theater performances, nationally recognized as one America’s.top repertory companies.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family and friends have been instrumental and supporting me on this journey to create a whole new life and business for myself. Constant feedback and encouragement along the way, new ideas I hadn’t thought of and amazing shoutouts from them have helped build and grow my business to what it is today