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Exploring Life & Business with Cori Palka of Downtown Divas Boutique

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cori Palka.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started college studying criminal science. I was interested in criminal justice. At the time, my teacher was a retired chief of police for NYC and one of the class requirements was watching an autopsy be performed. I knew at that moment, I had chosen the wrong profession. While at community college, I was managing a chain of boutiques. I thought if I can run & manage three, I could run one of my own.

After many sleepless nights, countless dreams and my 23-year-old fearless attitude, I opened my store in the fall of 2002. It’s been quite the journey. His year marks 19 years since I opened my doors. Everyone has this notion that once you open your doors, people just come in. It’s NOTHING like what you envision. It’s HARD. I would be more cautious today to start a business if I had to do it again. The first couple of years were hard because you are trying to establish yourself/your business. You work countless hours with very little pay. You have to be passionate and extremely driven to keep a business open. I have never once considered closing. I just keep fighting and working harder. Failing is not an option for me. I just put more time into marketing, living simpler, sacrificing my personal life and do what I need to do to keep my dream alive.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
There are always obstacles! LOL. My first major hurdle was in 2008 when the economy spiraled. No one was coming in, and people didn’t want to spend money. I wasn’t making money. And at the same time, all the same, bills are due! Eeekk! Another was COVID this past year. It same struggles, just a bit harder.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Downtown Divas vision is to make every customer feel beautiful and leave loving their new outfit(s). We are honest, upfront with our opinions and suggest what we truly think will look best. Shopping at my store is like shopping with your best friend. We want you to feel comfortable and confident. We receive new merchandise every couple of days and have very limited sizing to keep your look just that, YOURS. We hope by doing things this way, you will never run into someone wearing your outfit. So far, it’s been working.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
Running a business alone is a HUGE risk! I think the only people who truly “get it” are other business owners. Ha! There is no luck in my eyes in owning or operating a small business. You create your own luck. It’s very simple, what you put in is what you will receive in return.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: downtowndivasboutiqueorlando
  • Facebook: Downtown DIVAS Boutique

Image Credits
Aida Lopez, Wendy Pantino, Nino Rosado.

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