By Evan J. Pretzer
McKenzie Chagala and Clifford Hayes began their entrepreneurial empire in their basement in January, and, since May, have busted out of it and into a storefront on North. 6th Street across from Lil’ Ole Winemaker Shoppe in Wausau.
The space they are making into something which will stand the test of time is known as CK Clothing & Spa. It sells a variety of items like shoes, sunglasses, dresses, hats and shirts, has been a lifelong dream for Hayes and Chagala joined after previous work in data management.
“I wanted to be an entrepreneur and didn’t want to give my time to others,” she says. “I wanted to invest in myself. So, I hopped on board to make his dream come true as well as mine. When we started things did really good and it boomed, so we decided to share this with the public.”
So, they searched for their space and managed to secure it with comparative ease as the receding of the COVID-19 pandemic means a lot of retail space is available in the community. A grant of $10,000 WI Main Street Bounceback Grant (through the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission) also helped. Hayes says the vendors they have obtained products from online have been friendly and a number of good deals have been struck.
“We’ve been reaching out to different people on sites and have come across nice vendors,” he says. “They have offered business credits and a variety of things people might like. We will see how it goes. But when you are brand new, those are avenues vendors target, people who are just getting started, people who they want to see flourish. When you are respectful, people relate.”
This sort of kindness is something the partners in retail and a relationship give back to the community and have plans to do more of in the future as well. When not overseeing the Adidas, Hayes’ own Oct Brand of apparel, Hudson, Focus, Birkenstock and other items which line the shelves, Hayes and Chagala work to help the less-fortunate (though Hayes does not mention specifics) and they are making shirts to make themselves known when out in the community.
“We are getting CK Clothing & Spa shirts made for us and our [six] children,” Chagala says. “We want to spend some time at the soup kitchen or humane society and give a helping hand.”
In the future they are expanding their space for more women’s and children’s items. As well, though the spa word is in their name, Chagala is currently studying to be a massage therapist and they intend to get this available to customers imminently also. Their urban items are loved, the connection they have is not limited to commerce, and, for Hayes, the key to continuing on is to keep doing what they are now and never wavering in the quality of what they offer to people.
“I am hoping to get a contract with Nike and hopefully we get to continue a lot of business for years. We will keep working hard, being consistent and I hope it grows past what I’d imagine.”
CK Clothing & Spa at 317 N. 6th St. is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday and is closed Sundays. More about them can be found by visiting Facebook or calling 715-496-1070.
Evan J. Pretzer is a contributor to City Pages. He can be reached at [email protected].
Correction: A previous version of this story that appeared in print had the wrong source for the grant. It has been corrected and a correction will appear in print.