Building Businesses Behind The Red Door
Shirley Cordero worked in corporate management for the restaurant industry for over 16 years, while raising her family in Southern California. During the Covid lockdowns, she moved here to Brentwood. Her family was immediately attracted to the small-town feel and Shirley was most impressed by the huge amount of community support for local businesses she witnessed. Settling here was the catalyst she needed to launch her own venture aimed at fostering others' dreams!
Shirley says, “Covid was a time when our creative energies had a chance to surface. Lots of women became very good at crafting and creating things by hand. Social media allowed us to share these endeavors and then makers markets became a popular way of selling the goods too.” Shirley found her love for making candles made her happy. Her enthusiasm led her to make a huge career change.
There are no low sellers. Everyone inside this shop is selling well. The crowds come in and they gravitate to what they want. Everything is so well crafted, cute, and unique that the items sell themselves. I’m giving them the space to thrive.”
After leaving her corporate job behind, Shirley got serious about candle making. Attending various pop-up events and markets introduced her to other vendors who were also interested in starting a small business, crafting goods they were equally passionate about. Shirley had an idea to bring them all together more permanently. She had zero background in retail, yet possessed an inspired drive to elevate others that she knew would lead to great success. On April 1, 2023, she opened The Red Door, located inside the Vic Stewart’s Plaza on Balfour Road. With a creative and eclectic mix of talented vendors, Shirley now supports more than 50 entrepreneurs in sharing their wares with East Contra Costa County.
Says Shirley, “There are no low sellers. Everyone inside this shop is selling well. The crowds come in and they gravitate to what they want. Everything is so well crafted, cute, and unique that the items sell themselves. I’m giving them the space to thrive.” Along with overseeing the shop seven days a week, Shirley promotes networking opportunities through her alliance with the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce, Better in Brentwood, and social media marketing videos posted to Nextdoor and Facebook. Planning special events such as pop-up Friday night outdoor markets in her plaza and sidewalk spotlights for vendors helps boost sales. Furthering interactions with customers, The Red Door will partner with the Good Morning Maxwell event space located next to Chill, to host various vendor crafting workshops. It will be a chance to meet and greet the local artists who contribute to the spaces at the shop.
More than workshops, Shirley intends to help her contributing artists gain notoriety by hosting exhibits to highlight their individual works. Good Morning Maxwell will be transformed into a gallery allowing a rotating roster of artisans to shine!
There is a variety of crafts inside the store. Once you swing open the door, you are immediately hit by the pleasant and inviting scent emitted by the custom soaps, bath bombs, candles, and gourmet spices. The colorful interior is flanked with custom printing t-shirts on display, alongside wood plank welcome signs, and one-of-a-kind charcuterie boards. There’s even a wall of crochet animals to greet you! Glistening jewelry and baubles are everywhere. The Red Door houses a variety of vendor spaces, each with a personality all its own. As you move through, it’s an ever-changing feast for the eyes. All of them draw you in and create ideas for perfect gifts or whimsical additions to your home.
Shirley knows the challenge of finding an affordable brick-and-mortar. She could not afford to go into one herself with her candles. To not compete with her vendors, Shirley now sells her candles exclusively through the Marriott Hotel spa as S&C Candles and Crafts. She admits that time for her own creative endeavors has dwindled as her focus is now aimed directly at helping her vendors achieve their dreams. “Most of the women here are full-time employed mothers. They already have high-stress jobs like teaching and corporate management, but they still hustle at pop-ups on weekends trying to build their brand. I am a mother to three boys ranging in age from 12 to 21. I know what it feels like to have a talent you want to share with the world and lack the time or place to make it happen. The Red Door is a co-op, but I am the face of their individual brand for 12 hours a day while they concentrate on other obligations.”
Shirley’s effort to propel small business leaders forward has gained attention. The Red Door has been nominated for Start-Up of the Year - the winner will be announced on July 30th at the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce Gala Event. Her ultimate goal is to create a buzz for the retailers in her immediate area, similar to what the Downtown Brentwood Coalition has accomplished. Shirley shares, “There are many interesting shops here that folks need to be aware of. I refer to this Balfour corridor from Deer Valley Road to Griffith Lane as Uptown, and I feel we can make it a shopping destination full of exciting events, just like Downtown.
So many vendors have shown interest in joining the co-op that Shirley is now considering expanding into other counties, giving a whole other set of makers a chance to shine. Shirley relishes the look on her vendors’ faces when they realize a patron has purchased their creations. She says, “We are a group of creatives all growing together. I love being the place where they begin their success story. With each sale, their dream of being an artisan is fulfilled – and that’s really what being a maker is all about.”