Just last summer, Michelle Delgado and Lisa Jee opened Ridgewood’s beloved gift shop, Stay Forever. The two women brought together their creative minds and started a local business in their favorite neighborhood in Queens.
We caught up with Michelle to learn more about the store, the emphasis on local artists, and the Ridgewood community. Here’s what she had to share…
What can visitors expect to find at Stay Forever?
As two women of color, we feel strongly about supporting similar businesses, so you can expect to find goods made by women and People of Color. We love supporting other mom-owned businesses and, of course, local makers. We carry a bit of everything – home goods, stationery, baby and kids gifts, self-care items, and a few treats for pets.
We’re also big on hands-on experiences that focus on creating, so we invite local makers to lead workshops and share their skills with the community.
What was the inspiration behind the shop, and how did you get into the business?
I was 8 months pregnant, and Lisa was nearing the end of her maternity leave when we joked about not going back to our jobs and opening a shop. Lisa had been the creative director and lead merchandiser at The Strand for over 5 years, and I had worked at Etsy for 7 years, helping makers scale their businesses. Our backgrounds seemed like the perfect equation for a store, so two weeks later, we were signing a lease on a wing and a prayer with a 4-month-old in tow and a baby on the way. In retrospect, everyone who said we were crazy was right!
How did you decide to open the store in Ridgewood, and what do you love about the neighborhood?
We love Ridgewood and could stay here forever (see what we did there?!). We’ve actually lived here for a combined 8 years and felt the neighborhood could use what we wanted to offer. We love the community. Ridgewood is very family friendly, and we’re lucky for that – our customers seem delighted to be greeted by babies, and parents appreciate that our store is kid-friendly with room for strollers.
As a handmade boutique, how do you choose which local artisans to work with?
We found our first few makers using the Ridgewood, Queens geo-tag on Instagram. Now, we have local makers approaching us. We’re open to just about any product line, provided they meet our store’s aesthetic. The makers we work with have put time and effort into their lines and show potential for growth. I spent years helping makers launch their wholesale businesses, so it’s rewarding being able to continue that work on a local level.
Do you have any tips for picking out a last-minute gift?
If you’re having a hard time coming up with a thoughtful gift, go with something useful. Self-care items are always a hit this time of year, so handcrafted soaps, bath salts, and scented candles are a good go-to. How great is a friend who says, “I love you, so take care of you”?
Complete the sentence: Self-care is…
Self-care is you doing you. For some, that means getting a manicure or a massage, and for others, it’s a daily journal entry and a yoga routine. For us at Stay Forever, it’s saying “yes” to the 3-for-$10 Haagen-Daz specials sale at the local Key Foods. We’re working on widening that scope, but for now, that’s what makes us happy.
What’s your favorite item in your store right now and why?
As new moms and new business owners, it’s been a struggle doing anything for ourselves. Manicures were one of the things we loved and had given up when we were pregnant because of the toxic chemicals. However, we just got a line of 10 plant-based nail polish that we’re absolutely obsessed with.
Get your next gift at Stay Forever, open every Monday to Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. or on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sundays until 6 p.m.). The store is located on a sweet little street, sandwiched between Topos Bookstore and Julia’s Wine Bar in Ridgewood, Queens. Don’t forget to follow them on Instagram or visit them online.