rom store manager positions in Cordova Mall and Armani in South Florida to owning her own beauty bar on Palafox Street, Jo Rich has dabbled in fashion and makeup and spent most of her adult life in retail management.
Her retail life began at Wilsons Leather in Cordova Mall while she was in college.
“I stopped going to college because I ended up becoming the store manager at Wilsons Leather and worked there for a couple of years,” Rich said. “Then I got a position at The Limited as a store manager and worked there for a couple years and then I got a job with Armani down in South Florida where I moved to be over a $5 million store.”
She ended up not really loving South Florida, though, so she returned to Pensacola, where she had lived since she was seven years old when her father got a job at Brownsville Assembly of God.
In 2015, Rich went back to school and finished her business degree even though years of retail management had already taught her a lot about how to run a business. After having her second son, the hard worker struggled.
“I had postpartum depression and so I got into makeup just to kind of make myself feel better,” Rich said. “And so, I woke up every day, and every day if I could just put red lipstick on - that was the one thing I could do. And so gradually I started to feel better and better and better.”
That experienced led Rich to continue working with makeup, practicing on herself and other people. She opened a kiosk back in Cordova Mall and sold makeup and also got her esthetician license. After two years, though, she was ready for something bigger and was in the process of working on a lease for a full store in the mall, but it fell through. She was feeling disappointed but one day she and her husband were walking down Palafox Street and fate intervened.
“We walked by and there was a For Lease sign in the window,” she said.
“We immediately called the number and Deborah was standing two feet from us and answered the phone.”
Property owner Deborah Dunlap eventually leased Rich the space and Jo Rich Beauty Bar opened on New Year’s Eve of 2019, and then quickly had to close due to COVID-19.
“I did everything I could because we still had to pay the rent and I was so brand new. But I sold gift cards, and I sold the products that we had online.
I kept our social media up. And then I think it was eight or nine weeks later we reopened and have been doing great ever since.”
Rich has continued to love fashion and merchandising and has her own sense of style. She keeps an eye on current styles but picks and chooses what she likes.
“I usually don’t buy things that are super fashionable. I buy it because it looks good on me and because I like it and the way that it looks and because I think it’s fashionable. I take multiple ideas from different places and I kind of turn them into what I like.”