Cristine Salzner, the owner of Pearl Wonderful Clothing, said she’s always been into fashion.
“I thought that the coolest job in the world would be to become a buyer for Le Bon Marché in Paris,” she said.
In 2008, Salzner and her family moved from Vienna, Austria to St. Helena because of her husband.
She worked from home as a recruiter. But she said that can be a bit lonely, so Salzner approached the former owner of Pearl about working weekends at the shop.
Almost two years ago, Salzner bought the boutique and jumped into small business ownership.
“I’m really loving it,” said Salzner. “I feel like it’s so natural. I’m here every day. I have a great relationship with the two girls I work with. I love the fact that I am learning everything there is to know about the business.”
1. What was your first job?
I was once called a sizzling waitress at Sizzler’s Steakhouse in Guam. I was in college.
2. What’s a common misconception people have about your shop?
“Oh, I can never afford anything there.”
It’s not true. Pearl is a boutique but we try to cater to the needs of Napa Valley and to understand what our locals like to buy and how they like to dress.
3. What percentage of your business is local?
Almost 60/40 locals (to) tourists. We’re very fortunate to have that here.
4. What’s new at Pearl?
Spring has arrived in a big way. And summer. By the end of March and beginning of April, I will be merchandised for the spring and summer season.
5. What are some fashion trends you are seeing now?
The 1980s is what’s happening. Shoulder pads, high waisted jeans, big belts. Denim is always in — and distressed clothing.
6. What is the biggest challenge your industry has faced?
Online shopping and social media has influenced the habits of shoppers. Never has it been so easy to find and acquire anything/everything so swiftly. As a small business owner, I need to be more aware and conscious of my clientele and provide to each one the best service on a very personal level.
7. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
I wish that there were more independently-run boutiques/retailers. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change anything. This industry provides for me everything that I find exciting: travel, the hunt for that unique piece, interaction with designers and the creative world, sales, dressing up and growing a business.
8. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?
To live in Spain and become fluent in Spanish; learn Portuguese, French and Italian and one day dance the tango with my husband.
9. Who do you most admire in the business world?
Miuccia Prada, Julie Wainwright, Rei Kawakubo and all the conductors of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
In my senior year in high school, I was a Sunday newscaster for a local TV station.