Denise Mead and Jeane Boast aren’t really sisters, but their friendship spans several decades, and they have shared so many of life’s ups and downs together that they might as well be. Now they are sharing something new.
The longtime friends have collaborated on an idea that culminated in opening a new business in downtown Winter Garden. Swalty Sisters opened Feb. 11 with a storefront full of sweet and salty, classy and sassy, eclectic gifts for all the different personalities in your friend group.
Shoppers can find personalized merchandise such as wooden plates with local ZIP codes, cutting boards that can be personalized with a loved one’s recipe, Florida-centric items and initialed stationery. There are oversized coffee mugs, stuffed animals in the shapes of vegetables, kitschy dishes and artwork.
Hand-crafted popcorn, candy and “spirit sippers” are offered for folks looking to please the palate. If you aren’t sure what to buy, Boast and Mead will put together gift baskets with a variety of merchandise.
Gifts for men are available as well, including soaps and colognes, poke cards and chips, flasks, golf divots and leather products.
“We try to have gifts for everyone,” Boast said. “I have three boys, and (Mead) has a son. They were adamant that we have something boys would like.”
The owners like to feature local artists, and much of the merchandise is created in West Orange County. One of their friends can customize the cups and mugs, she embroiders the spa wraps, and she soon will have personalized items representing local schools.
Shoppers who are looking for something specific can even make suggestions to the owners, who always are on the lookout for new products.
They each have their favorite items in the store. Mead loves the assortment of party hats; Boast, who is a self-proclaimed paper person, is partial to the stationery. Both like the Mouth Party candies, which includes their OMG (“Original Mom Group”) sweets.
“We say we’re legends in our own mind,” Mead said.
The two first tossed around the idea of opening a shop after attending a shower for a friend’s third baby and seeing all the thoughtful and personal gifts she received. The idea became a plan after being asked several times by the owner of Geegee’s Gems if they would like to buy her shop.
That owner, Gina Rice, ran the store for fun and kept limited hours, and Boast and Mead knew they could add their personal touch and turn it into a successful gift shop.
Prior to opening their boutique, Mead and Boast already were frequent downtown visitors. They are part of a moms group that started when their children, now in their 20s, were in preschool. The mothers and their children all are still close friends.
“We started taking our kids to Scoops for ice cream all the time,” Boast said. “We took our kids every Friday. So, this is naturally where we always come.”
They went hunting for new merchandise and chose a name.
“We figure everyone’s a little salty, a little sweet at different parts of the day,” Boast said.
And although her Facebook page claims she’s the sweet one, Mead admitted: “I’m probably the salty one in the partnership.”
The name also worked, they said, because they are foodies.
Mead and Boast have been surprised by the amount of walk-by traffic they have gotten since opening. They believe they are in the right place at the right time as downtown continues to grow and offer more shopping destinations to residents.