November 08, 2019
A decade strong, Kanibal & Co is JC’s mainstay for one-of-a-kind homewares, locally crafted fashion and decor and whimsy-tinged curios. Launched online in 2006, the boutique made the clicks-to-bricks shift in 2009 with a storefront in historic downtown JC, where it’s been welcoming ardent browsers ever since.
“I always knew that I wanted to work for myself in some capacity,” says owner and founder Kristen Scalia. “Going through school, I was never able to figure out how that would play out. But after experiencing hardship in my family, I came to a realization: you shouldn’t put off your heart’s dream until later because there may not be a later.”
Kristen leveraged her PR background along with her passion for interior decor to design a distinctive retail experience bursting with carefully curated new and vintage fashion, homewares and jewelry.
The greatest compliment we can have is when people walk in and feel at home. Your being comfortable is all we want.
“I always loved styling shoots and selecting props when setting up shoots for PR clients,” she explains.
“The greatest compliment we can have is when people walk in and feel at home. That’s the experience I always try to create. I never want a stuffy boutique shopping experience. If people just want to come in and browse to get inspired, that’s totally fine. Just being comfortable is all we want.”
There’s plenty of inspiration to be had within Kanibal & Co’s walls. The store’s selection of antique jewelry has items dating back from the 1800s, and an expert gemologist is available to help source and select pieces if a customer is after something in particular.
“It’s a really personal experience for our customers,” says Kristen, who works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that’s the case across every element of the Kanibal & Co experience.
“From the time our doors open until the time they close we’re re-merchandising the shop, taking in freight orders, working with customers and stylists, working on partnerships with local artists, meeting with potential new vendors, preparing for future events, and so on. A lot of times in retail, not only are we hustling in the moment, but we’re also trying to project into the future. What’s going to happen next season or the season after that?”
While trends may change, the store’s JC focus is unwavering. Much of Kanibal & Co’s eye-catching stock is local, with pieces created locally in JC, or even by staff members.
“I’ve been really lucky to work with incredibly talented artists in our community. Also, not everyone realizes it, but our staff members make a lot of the things that we sell. Being able to support my staff as well as other creatives who live and work in JC means a lot to me.”
Jersey City has supported Kristen creatively and professionally, and she values being a part of the local business community.
“It’s the greatest gift I’ve gotten out of being a small biz owner,” she says. “I have gotten so much back from the people here, whether it’s support or kindness, or sheer talent. I never expected that going into retail. The real truth about a small business is that you have no idea what you will face until you do, and then it’s all gut instinct and asking for help. But that’s okay.
The people of JC have opened their arms, and I continue to feel the support 10 years later. It is without a doubt Jersey City that has kept this business alive.
197 Montgomery St. Jersey City, NJ 07302