Winters Collective is 2022 Business of the Year

Commiunity member Jenni Jacobs Garcia with Winters Collective owner Meika Ogando and collective vendors Carla Knabke, Ayca Walters and Veronica Kenyon. The Winters Collective was named the 2022 Business of the Year. (Courtesy photo)

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The Winters Collective has officially been named the town’s 2022 Business of the Year. Although the business took root in 2019, the accolade confirms it’s a must-visit staple of the community.

Started by Meika Ogando, the Winters Collective is a veritable mosaic made up of small businesses, workout classes, art popups, floral workshops and more. All these pieces come together to create a unique storefront that stands as Ogando’s creative ambition coming to fruition — despite the pandemic.

Nomination letters praised the Winters Collective for its efforts to bring in many retail items to Winters that were only found outside the city limits. Another nomination letter stated the business was a “role model” for “enhancing the relationship between the business community, nonprofits and the local residents.”

“COVID was definitely the biggest challenge since opening. Just being able to keep all of my Collective vendors motivated and needing them to see the worth and value of having a collective in Winters,” said Ogando. “The Winters Collective is a happy, addictive shop therapy that has all items that make you feel good. It’s a collection of eight different businesswomen that are smart, fun and have unique personalities that meet a broad spectrum of customers. It’s a small business that supports local business, the community and the arts.”

It’s no secret that ambitions to open a business downtown come with a heavy financial burden. To Ogando, The Winters Collective is a way to simultaneously ease that burden on small business owners while giving them prime, Main Street real estate to operate on.

“I can’t imagine if I had a regular setup with employees and opened a new business during that time (that) we would have made it. Our setup is different where my vendors all work the store as part of the business model,” said Ogando. “I just really believed in the concept and idea and knew it’d be an asset to our town. The special thing about Winters is we love this town
and don’t always want to leave it, so it’s nice to be able to come to get a gift here on Main Street and support our local economy.”

After weathering a pandemic, wildfires and inflation on top of every other challenge of beginning a business, The Winters Collective entrepreneurs have proven themselves to be as resilient and tenacious as the community itself. Another nomination letter praised the Winters Collective team for coming up with new ways to draw people to downtown Winters and for providing “space for locals to bring their ideas to life.”

The business thrived and evolved through the launch of the Studio Collective. In the space, Ogando and vendors were able to host workshops, classes and art shows. Outside of the storefront, they brought to life community fashion shows featuring local children and community members. They also host holiday shopping events like a Galentine’s Day event.

The Winters Collective is hosting its annual, Spring fashion show during the Spring open event on Friday, March 24.

“I’m proud and I definitely could not do it without all the involvement and support from our collective members. It is a cooperative where it’s all women in business together, working together and it’s pretty magical and special to see it all happen,” Ogando said, praising her collective members. “I’m honored and value what we bring to the community. We try hard not to be just a regular retail store. We try to bring special events for the children and for the parents in town to make it a fun addition to Winters.”

Ogando said her vendors go above and beyond to offer private shopping opportunities for the community, especially during the pandemic. She noted that they also have provided personalized and custom shopping for special gift requests, including providing workshops and classes for customers to participate in.

“Mainly, we’re all locals, we care, we know each other, we take the time to get to know our customers and where they’re from,” Ogando said.

The Winters Collective will be formally honored as the 2022 Business of the Year at the annual Toast to Winters event, planned for Friday, March 31 at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Sacramento–Winters. Tickets are $90 per person and must be purchased in advance at the Winters District Chamber of Commerce’s website

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