CHamoru Village Units 142 &143
153 West Marine Corps Dr.
By Rianne Peredo
Naomi Ventura was a high school student when she amassed portfolios of hand-drawn designs and set a goal for herself: a clothing line. Her passion was deeply rooted in designing clothing, especially after the birth of her first daughter, Samone. Ventura designed handmade barefoot sandals, as well as headbands and hair clips that featured Guam’s national flower, bougainvillea. She had originally made the accessories solely for Samone, but soon began receiving orders from clients.
She also saw a gap in the local market for products geared to tourists and created her hair accessories line, Puti Tai Nobiu, which means bougainvillea in Chamorro.
Ventura opened her initial storefront, Cutie Petunias, at the Agana Shopping Center Marketplace in 2013. The business name was a result of her brainstorming; she wanted it to include a type of flower.
Her storefront moved in 2016 to the building along Route 8 in Hagåtña, which includes Faith Bookstore. Ventura had launched her GUbaby line the previous year. She submitted an application to the Guam Economic Development Authority’s Guam Product Seal program, an annual certification to distinguish products that are authentically “Made in Guam.” GEDA’s Made in Guam seal is on her apparel and hair accessories as a result of the certification.
Currently, Cutie Petunias offers ready-to-wear apparel and accessories for babies and toddlers. Ventura also accepts custom orders — which range from hair bows to gowns — and operates an online store to accommodate off-island customers.
Why did you decide to start your business?
Ventura: Now, I’m seeing a lot more local fashion designers and “Made in Guam” businesses; that’s awesome. Before, there weren’t many available. I would go to stores and just see cookies and chocolate — that’s all they had. You would never see clothing or shirts, and that’s what I wanted to provide. When I saw all the products that were available for tourists, some of the packaging said “come back to Hawaii.” It triggered something in me; that’s why I had this drive to create products. I made sure that for my hair accessories line, it said “come back to Guam.”
What is unique to your business?
Ventura: Every month we donate 5% of our sales to the Alee Women’s Shelter. I feel like I’m really blessed in what I’ve done; what I’ve achieved. We also just started taking donations from customers — clothing, shoes, toys. At the end of every month, we go and deliver it to them. The children there are always in need of clothes and shoes. Also, I always tell people that it’s a very unorthodox kind of boutique because we offer so many things. We do a lot of custom orders, birthday outfits and baptismal outfits. We’re really known for our baptismal outfits.
What is your favorite aspect of running your business?
Ventura: It has to be my clothing line. It’s been a passion of mine since I was in high school, and I had portfolios of designs. So it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I had a storefront; my own little children’s boutique. It was my chance and it was perfect because I had my daughter, who was my model. Then I would make something and just have her try it on and make corrections — that’s my highlight.
What are the challenges you’ve had while running your business?
Ventura: As a sole proprietor, there’s always an issue on any given day. It can be something with a product that I’m unhappy with, perfecting our products, giving customers what they want and keeping up with the trends. Also, being focused on “you” and not being so distracted by everything else — I think it’s really hard to do here, especially on a small island. Staying focused and being true to yourself, true to your products and your business.
What is your most popular product?
Ventura: I think it’s our “Esther” dress because it’s so versatile. You can wear it as a top or as a dress; when there are none left in girl’s size 5T and up, customers would get a 3T to let their daughters wear them as a top.
How do you keep inventory fully stocked in-store and online?
Ventura: It’s a challenge; we always have to keep it up to date every day. We have to make sure that everything matches online and in-store. Because we only carry so many, we don’t want to put out a lot of a certain kind of product. It keeps it unique and it’s something that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
Have you collaborated with other businesses or business owners?
Ventura: Yes, we have collaborated with Veroni Sablan, a local artist. She made the different stamps we use on our clothing. We stamp them by hand.
Do you have any future plans for your business?
Ventura: We’re preparing to get back into wholesale and I want our products to be in several department stores. So, that’s what we’re working on; that’s our goal for 2020 and what I’ve always wanted to do.
Hours: Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.