Local Business Open in West Ridge Mall
THE PINK SUITCASE
The Pink Suitcase used to have this kind of following. But not anymore. Only because faithful Topeka shoppers can now stay in town and shop at the new Pink Suitcase store in West Ridge Mall.
Sarah Gollier and Emilie Nichols wanted to bring distinctive fashions to the Midwest at affordable prices. They began collecting goods from markets across the country and embarked on their women's clothing and accessories business in 2009. That first year, they traveled around Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City doing trunk shows. Then, in 2010, The Pink Suitcase opened the doors to its first boutique in downtown Ottawa. An online retail website was launched in 2012.
With a thriving business and the desire to expand, they took the opportunity to open a second location in Topeka's West Ridge Mall in March 2014. They are excited to bring their unique venture to a bigger city mall environment.
“We want to maintain our small town, friendly feel at our Topeka location,” said Gollier, co-owner of The Pink Suitcase. “We like the idea that the mall is taking smaller companies and working with them to get a start here. We are excited to be a part of Topeka.”
The Pink Suitcase not only has clothes, but also offers all the other beautiful accessories needed to complete any outfit— from jewelry and scarves to shoes and handbags.
“We like to help women put together looks they love and feel good in,” Gollier said. “And we really like what we do.”
Pink suitcase shoppers can tell.
“ I love it. It has a great atmosphere – more like family,” said Jamen Droge of Topeka.
WORTH A 1000 WORDSBy Wendy LongPhoto by Bethany Hughes
Worth a 1000 Words owner Kristin Webster has been a part of the portrait photography scene in Topeka since 2008. It has been an interesting journey but she has successfully created a thriving professional studio in West Ridge Mall that offers both on and off-site photography experiences.
It all began on her 15th birthday when her dad bought her first camera.
“He told me I would make a horrible employee!” Kristen laughs. “He made me promise to figure out how to make money with it.”
Her dad, an entrepreneur himself, was not making false assumptions. Her grandfather and uncles were small business owners as well. And so Kristin was destined to follow in that same spirit. Starting with senior pictures for her older siblings' friends and eventually her own friends, she has been taking pictures of people ever since.
Living in Olathe after high school graduation, she begged a local studio to hire her. After several attempts and an awkward beginning, she finally began to really learn the portrait photography business. Within a year, she was running the entire studio. After almost five years with them, one of the owners approached her about co-owning and working in a studio he had recently leased in Topeka's West Ridge Mall. That was in 2008 and she has been in this location under all of its various guises since then.
After parting with her previous co-owners, she reopened the studio as Worth a 1000 Words in September 2010. With their business experience and direction, her family has been key in contributing to her continued success. In 2013, she expanded to St. Joseph, Mo. and just this past year opened a location in Olathe, Kan.
COOKIES BY GAYLABy Wendy LongPhoto by Bethany Hughes
If you are walking through West Ridge Mall and smell something delicious, you can be sure Gayla Kirk and her crew are baking. A familiar face in the Topeka area, Gayla has been baking cookies for celebrations and events for many years. From frosting shots to specialty cookies, her new shop offers a variety of tasty treats, including gluten-free selections. Cookies by Gayla is the only company in the Midwest capable of printing cookies with photographs, monograms, logos and characters directly onto the frosting on top of the cookies. And everything used to decorate the cookies is 100 percent edible.
Gayla started making cookies for school bake sales and class parties when her oldest child started school. The kids and parents all loved her birthday and holiday treats and began telling their friends. She was soon getting requests from friends of friends, as well as their neighbors and acquaintances.
“I never advertised my business. It just grew by word of mouth,” Gayla said.
Once her kids were finally grown, she began officially taking orders and began her special order cookie business in 1997. From farmers markets to festivals, she took her cookies all over Topeka and the surrounding areas. In May 2014, Gayla opened her store in West Ridge Mall.
“I haven't been open in the mall very long but I have had a great experience here. Right now I am training new people to help me with the Christmas rush.”