Top Notch By Design at The Glenridge Ave Arts and Music Festival

By Gregory Burrus

I attended the Glenridge Avenue Arts and Music Festival [May 7th] which is run by a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, the Montclair Center Business Improvement District, established in 2002 by the local business community right off of Bloomfield Avenue in the heart of the town of Montclair with a purpose of enhancing and promoting downtown Montclair’s shopping, dining establishments.  Representing over 300 retailers and restaurants along Bloomfield Avenue and nearby adjacent streets, the Glenridge Avenue Arts and Music Festival is in its 2nd year and seems to be a huge success from what I was able to determine.  In a previous Jersey Indie article, I recapped the festival overall (  Today I am reviewing a vendor that, in my experience, for all intents and purposes is truly top notch by design. 

Top Notch By Design - When Outside Is Inside

When I entered the Glenridge Avenue Arts and Music Festival at what I call the bottom of the slight Glenridge Avenue hill, one of the first things that caught my eye was this beautiful designed bus.  Now, understand that normally buses don't attract me, but having lots of friends and artist who attend many New Jersey-based outdoor events, this seemed unique.  Also, having been a flea shop vendor a few times in the past on cold dreary days, and like the past, today had all the threats of more rain.  So, I understand what it means to stand outside all day long selling your products, so to me this bus seemed to have a bigger story than initially meets the eye. 

Top Notch By Design Bus n Boutique - When Outside Is Inside

Image: Gregory Burrus

Image: Gregory Burrus

On approach, I saw some jewelry outside and after a brief conversation with whom I believe was her business partner and husband outside, I was directed to get on the bus and check it out.  Well, a bus is a bus, and then you pass by the driver's seat and one immediately enters a warm, wonderful world of some truly top notch jewelry (yes, pun intended). You don’t think of small size so much as you get hooked on all the jewelry and more that adorns the wall for customers to view.  I have to say, it’s some very nice stuff.  Inside was a number of customers excitedly making decisions on what piece of accessories they wanted and, even better, how many they wanted.  

Image:   Top Notch By Design  - Inside

Image:  Top Notch By Design - Inside

To my left, I encountered Ninotchka, the owner, operator and creative driving force behind Top Notch By Design, who was talking, smiling with customers and, the best part, ringing up the sales.  In spite of it being a busy time, in my quick conversation with her, Ninotchka was gracious and warm, and you could tell she enjoyed her business.  She was excited about her business, how long she has been in business and how far it has come.  In doing my research, she was right.  According to Ninotchka, Top Notch By Design is having an amazing summer! Ninotchka made it to the finals of the Start Something Challenge (SSC).  She did this because she received loads of help from friends, family, and some fantastic fans, of which I am now one. 

Top Notch By Design Bus n' Boutique – The Creative Force

Image: Gregory Burrus

Image: Gregory Burrus

This is no small feat at all because the Start Something Challenge (SSC) is a statewide pitch competition and business strengthening opportunity for New Jersey entrepreneurs.  You have to work at networking, perfecting an elevator pitch, work with gaining visibility for your business venture, and the possible reward of a $10,000 business grant.  The Challenge is organized by a non-profit organization called Rising Tide Capital.  Their goal is to help underserved entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses, and this group is run by a network of visionary supporters who put their money where their vision is.  Up against 10 other strong participants, you pitch your business to a panel of expert judges, and you only get 6 minutes to do it.  In Ninotchka's case it is as she said: “6 minutes to sum up her last 4 years.”  To her credit, she was nervous but she won. An additional benefit is Ninotchka made some great friends of the other finalists and has kept an ongoing dialog of helpful conversations with them, which was and is one the coolest parts of being a part of the Start Something Challenge. 

Evolution of the Top Notch By Design Bus n' Boutique

Image: Gregory Burrus

Image: Gregory Burrus

Well, I believe they made a wise investment.  It was clear the husband was on board with the concept, as he initially told me, hey I help get this bus from a raw bus to where it is today but this is my wife’s idea.  As the graphic on the steps of bus shows, they are making it happen.  In talking with Ninotchka, she stated to me that, "I just had an idea because I hated setup and break down at each festival and losing business on inclement weather days."  And that’s what caught my eye. The fact that this bus, in the middle of all the table top vendors, had a huge leg up on the other vendors.  It had an outside table, a warm environment to shop in, almost like a store, and a place to get personable with the owner.  I also saw that if the rain did come today, Top Notch By Design could still do some business in slight rain as opposed to taking the same time to close down and have to open up again when the rain passed. 

Online or On Your Lawn – Top Notch By Design is There for You

The other part I learned in reading their website is, as they say: "Bus n' boutique is a mobile storefront, filled with lots of handmade bags, accessories, and baby stuff!!  Specializing in private bag parties, top notch will turn your location into a bus stop!"  That’s right, they can come to you.  You could have your party at almost any location, and they will come to your location and help your friends with their jewelry and accessories selection.  You can make this a part of your next fundraising event.  How cool is that? 

Ninotchka is clearly open to the idea of you booking your own TOP NOTCH BY DESIGN bag party today.  Now it’s time to take a deeper peek inside of the Bus!! 

About the Writer

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions.  On a regular basis Gregory promotes art, music, business, history, government and local community events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photo journalism.  Gregory Burrus resides in beautiful, historic town of South Orange, New Jersey, the home of beautiful gas lamps, many historic buildings, some wonderful old trees, the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Seton Hall University, South Mountain Reservation and many gorgeous, vibrant, growing communities in the surrounding North Jersey towns and cities of Essex County.  Having fun living life while helping others. Connect with Gregory Burrus:  Facebook | Google+ | YouTube | Twitter Instagram | Pinterest | Vimeo

Keywords: Montclair, Glenridge, Glenridge Avenue, arts & music, Bus n Boutique, art, music, festival