Three models standing outside wearing items from retail gift shop Made in Corpus Christi.
Retail gift shop Made in Corpus Christi seeks to build a stronger, thriving creative community in Corpus Christi, Texas, by promoting and supporting local artists and makers. — Made in Corpus Christi

Nikki Riojas founded Made in Corpus Christi, a retail gift shop dedicated to showcasing the talented creatives in Corpus Christi, Texas, as a way to celebrate her city.

“We partner with small, independent makers and work with local businesses to curate beautiful lines of goods designed, crafted and produced in and around the Coastal Bend,” said Riojas, who won CO—’s 2021 Dream Big Woman-Owned Business award.

[Learn more about the 2022 Dream Big Awards, and enter your business by July 8 for a chance to win $25,000!]

The business seeks to build a stronger, thriving creative community in Corpus Christi by promoting and supporting local artists and makers. For Riojas, focusing on relationships within this smaller circle of local makers was the key to her early success, and she advised aspiring entrepreneurs to be selective when sharing their mission with others.

“Without the outside noise that comes with too many opinions, you’re able to pursue your ideas before they become diluted by someone else’s,” she said.

Diversifying and uplifting your community

In addition to starting Made in Corpus Christi, a woman-owned business, Riojas also founded the Women’s Entrepreneur Society (WES) of Corpus Christi, “a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women businesses owners in the Coastal Bend.”

“Many of the 100-plus WES members have become friends and vendors of Made in Corpus Christi over the years, and we continue to help promote these women-owned businesses by stocking their products, promoting their services and collaborating with them on exclusive lines for our store,” she explained. “It’s imperative that we strive to promote women- and minority-owned businesses in order to diversify and uplift those in our community.”

Without the outside noise that comes with too many opinions, you’re able to pursue your ideas before they become diluted by someone else’s.

Nikki Riojas founder, Made in Corpus Christi

Made in Corpus Christi prides itself on ensuring tax dollars stay local, fueling the city’s overall financial growth.

“We are a community-driven brand that loves our city, contributes to the vibrancy of the culture, collaborates with and uplifts small, independent businesses and gives back to local nonprofits through consumer-funded campaigns,” Riojas said.

[Read more: 10 Resources for Women-Owned Businesses]

Adapting to unexpected circumstances

Resiliency in business requires the ability to adapt to any shift or change that might impact your brand — like the COVID-19 pandemic. Riojas may not have anticipated a global health crisis and subsequent restrictions, but she ensured Made in Corpus Christi stayed afloat by shifting to a primarily digital shopping experience.

Additionally, Riojas noted, already existing online gave the company the opportunity to create virtual online events, drive revenue and media exposure and build on the established e-commerce foundation.

“Starting a business and keeping it running under normal circumstances is difficult, but doing so in a pandemic is something I never anticipated having to navigate through,” Riojas told CO—. “While we couldn’t have planned for this specific situation, we did set ourselves up to weather the storm by having a strong online e-commerce platform and active social media accounts from the time our businesses were formed.”

[Read More: 3 Startups Share The Secret To Growing During a Pandemic]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Apply for the CO—100!

The CO—100 is an exclusive list of the 100 best and brightest small and mid-sized businesses in America. Enter today to share your story and get recognized.