WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Every day is a new adventure for former stay-at-home moms Darlene Goetz and Sharmila Pai, owners of Elements at the Circle which opened up in downtown Westborough last August.
"We didn't really know exactly what we wanted to do, we could've been making cupcakes," Pai said. "In the beginning if you told us we would be working as much as we are, we would've said 'there's no way we can do this with the kids at home.'"
The pair, with seven children between them from ages 10 to 17, are the only employees of the 10 East Main St. store and trade off hours as needed. The two don't need to keep track of school hours, because nonstop cell phone rings are enough to know the kids are out for the day.
"That's why I would've never done this before," said Goetz, a single mother who's lived in New Hampshire and taught middle school in Michigan before coming to Westborough. "I couldn't have done it by myself, and I don't think [Pai] could've done it by herself."
The store, formerly the Westborough Deli, is now wall-to-wall with brands of women's clothing, small jewelry and other novelties. Pai and Goetz go to trade shows all over to find new and interesting items, refreshing the store's inventory on a regular basis. Elements began as a small boutique within the store Zinc at 133 East Main St. over a year ago, but the two moms had bigger plans.
Armed with iPads and credit card readers in lieu of a cash register, Goetz and Pai said they are frequently asked what their business plan and marketing strategy is.
Their answer: "we don't have one."
"It's been a little scary at times, because a lot of our customers were people we know. ... Coming here, we had to count on the fact that people we don't know are going to come and support our business," Goetz said. "We do have a lot of people that come in here and say 'I went to the mall and went into every single store and I couldn't find what I wanted.' Most of our stuff is what you would wear, going around town doing the mom thing, but while not looking frumpy."
Even with the emphasis less on money than enjoyment, the two have been marketing through Facebook and a fundraiser for Westborough High School.
Pai, who has a freshman and sophomore at Westborough High, Goetz a sophomore and junior, agreed to give 14, 15 and 16 percent of sales driven by WHS from Sept. 25-26 to the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. The class with the most sales will be given $250.
A trip to the Elements at the Circle Facebook fan page also highlights customers "in their Elements."
"We were hoping that we could inspire the kids to do some marketing for us in the process," Goetz said.
With a three-year lease on the space, Elements at the Circle will be a fixture in downtown Westborough for the coming years. The two mothers use their own fashion judgement to help the stream of walk-in traffic that they've been seeing over the past month and even supply them with a catch phrase.
"People have started saying 'I'm in my Elements,' which is fun," Goetz said.