Eclectic Me Owner Jo Ann Davis Has a Gift for Gathering Great Vintage and New Items
Writer / Natalie Platt
Gathered items, vintage and new, are what you’ll find at Eclectic Me, the charming white-brick boutique in Kokomo owned by Jo Ann Davis, who fulfilled her lifelong dream by opening a brick-and-mortar location.
“I am the youngest of eight kids and was always surrounded by many creative minds,” Davis says. “Growing up, I entered any art contest that I could find. I worked at a small shop called Schweidler and Mewherter. It was the most amazing art supply and stationery store. I learned many things working there that I have carried through my life. Between the art and working retail, I somehow convinced myself that I would open my own shop one day.
And that she did.
“I started out my business in my mom’s basement, painting T-shirts,” she says. “I will never forget the year that I hand-painted shirts for July 4th and went into town for the parade. I looked down the street and saw my creation on so many people. I stood there in awe.”
She graduated with a degree in fine arts from Eastern Illinois University. A longtime lover of thrifting and repurposing items, Davis has always had a passion for gathered items, vintage and new.
“For the last 30 years I have grown my business in many ways,” she says. “After some name changes, the business name I liked best was Eclectic Me, as it best identifies my eclectic taste.”
A pivotal point in Davis’s career came in 2013 when her mother passed away, and hit her hard.
“It was then that I realized life is too short,” she says. “I realized I was the next generation, and I needed to pursue my dream of owning a shop or I would never do it. I was teaching at Acacia Academy, finished the school year and immediately started brainstorming.”
Davis rented a studio space at the Kokomo Art Association and taught private art lessons. She also got a booth at The Original Treasure Mart and started to thrift again, but it wasn’t long before she started outgrowing her studio and looking for another space, settling at a little shop on Berkley Road.
“I set up a shop there,” she says. “I had a closet for a back room and a very tiny room that I continued to teach art in. I made it work. I expanded to two booths at The Original Treasure Mart, as well as doing markets out and about at different locations. Life was good. I was doing what I had always dreamed of.”
After COVID-19 prevented a move to Michigan related to her husband’s job, Davis used the time to continue building and growing her business. A new logo, website and vintage camper were products of time well-spent. The camper was gutted and used as part of her business.
“I couldn’t wait for the world to open up again,” she says. “As it did, I began looking for a storefront. I did a lot of praying and asked God to help me find my own place, and then it happened. A friend asked me to go look at a building with her, and somehow a week later I made an offer on a different building that we found. It was in really bad shape but I saw the potential it had. We did a lot of work to get my doors open, and still have a lot to do, but it has been worth all the blood, sweat and tears.”
In October of 2021 Davis opened her storefront, remembering that as a small business, one of the most important factors is to be different. Davis challenges herself to incorporate boutique clothing, jewelry and art. She loves to gather items, whether vintage or new.
“I handpick my clothes with a certain vision in mind – sometimes the basics, sometimes different, but always what I like,” she says. “My inspiration comes from many areas of my life. God’s beauty, conversations, listening to what people want, and of course my own creativity. My jewelry is a conglomeration of my own designs, as well as other artists’ work. Each artist I represent is amazing in what they do. When I find the really cool stuff, it makes my adrenaline skyrocket. I look forward to finding the perfect home for such great vintage pieces.”
Davis doesn’t currently have any employees, but credits her family for always being willing to help with the hauling, setup or teardown at markets.
“Some people think I am crazy for having one business with three different venues, but for me it makes sense,” she says. “My goal at Eclectic Me is to provide creative and unique gathered items, vintage and new. What better way to tie all of my interests together? If I was confined to just one venue, I think I would be stagnant. My personality and the artist in me always helps me to be constantly going. Although it can be a challenge at times, juggling the three venues has become natural for me. I am constantly thinking about each of them and what is yet to come. It is a juggle but not a struggle. I am doing what I love to do.”
Davis says Kokomo holds a special place in her heart, and her brother has called her Kokomo Jo since she was 5 years old.
“I am so grateful,” she says. “I couldn’t do it all alone. I’m most proud of coming from a basement T-shirt business to where I am today, and it’s been an amazing ride. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve been resourceful, and I’ve been blessed to be influenced by so many people in my life. It has made me who I am today.”
Eclectic Me is located at 1403 Home Avenue in Kokomo. The store can be reached at 765-513-5502, as well as on Instagram and Facebook. Current market schedules are posted on social media and online at eclecticme2.com.
The Original Treasure Mart is located at 1201 East Vaile Avenue in Kokomo (booth D15).