Jazzy Cat Lifestyles Provides Hassle-free Home Shopping

Jazzy Cat Lifestyles is an ecommerce site that has a variety of products for accessorizing the home.

Jeff and Marianne Rees started the business during the COVID-19 pandemic and initially just sold products through Amazon. Through research and working with Bradley’s Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and students at the university, the couple launched their own ecommerce site on the platform, Shopify on Aug. 18, 2021.

“Getting the help from Bradley and the Illinois SBDC was very encouraging,” Jeff said. “I really wasn’t even aware that this type of assistance was out there.”

Marianne added that they have known Jennie Hale, director of programs and budgets, for many years and reached out to her to ask what the center could do to help them.

“Working with the students, they’ve been invaluable,” she said.

One of the reasons Jeff wanted to start an online business over a brick-and-mortar store is the portability that an ecommerce site allows. Jeff doesn’t have to spend all day at a store making sure it runs properly, as he already had a dawn-to-dusk, boots-on-the-ground job before.

“I wanted to work with a good company,” he said. “So, the supplier that I’m working with — the brand — they’re very easy to work with, they’ve helped me a lot to grow as well, and a lot of it was the portability. You have to be fluid these days.…having the opportunity to work remotely is a big asset to me, for sure.”

When Jeff reached out to the Illinois SBDC, he was working with the platform Shift4Shop, but the eCommerce project managers Greg Douglas and Chris Youngmark suggested using Shopify. Jeff then had to completely work from scratch with the new platform because the progress made on the Shift4Shop was not transferable.

Jeff had weekly to biweekly meetings with Greg Douglas and Chris Youngmark, where they discussed different sites and information.

“It just gave me more clarity on what direction I really needed to be moving [in],” Jeff said. “They had some really good information.”

Jeff has a good working relationship with the Illinois SBDC and their students, and he would recommend their services to anyone in need of assistance. “[The students] have such knowledge and good direction.”

The couple has used some of the products they sell in their own home. “It’s easier to relate to others when you’ve done that already,” Jeff said.

Currently, there are 360 products on the Jazzy Cat Lifestyles site. Jeff said they are most interested in quality products and are not tied down to one supplier.

The couple is looking at trends to see what the best products will be to sell on the website. As of now, they are working toward selling sporting goods and the idea of selling products for pets.

“Trends come and go,” Jeff said. “We have that flexibility with a website to be able to pivot with what is trending. There’s new and exciting products that come out at least quarterly, and we do plan on continually adding fresh content to the site.”

Some media in Bradley University's current print, video and online materials was acquired before the COVID-19 pandemic. Media acquired after the pandemic began was done so in compliance with Bradley's COVID-19 safety protocols at the time. The ongoing safety of our faculty, staff and students is of the utmost concern during these unprecedented times.