At the end of most workdays, Courtney Jackson, chief security officer for a government contractor, steps away from the high-pressure world of cybersecurity and into her new second career as the owner of CJKollective, a Bel Air-based fashion boutique.
Jackson assembled her clothing and accessories stock from national and international merchants. She describes her collection as “casual chic, because there is a flair to it.”
CJKollective brims with wrap and maxi dresses, jackets, drapes, leggings, yoga wear, purses and statement jewelry. Jackson also chauffeurs her fashion truck, which includes a dressing room and seating, to festivals and private parties.
Jackson’s background brings her unlikely career combination into focus.
“Honestly, when I was younger, I had some self-esteem issues,” she says. “But even as a kid, I was always dressing up myself and other people and reading fashion magazines. It helped me to come out of my shell. I realized that there are so many ways to be beautiful, and you don’t have to be a size 2. I want others to feel that way, too.”
Two months out of high school in the late 1980s, Jackson joined the U.S. Navy and found herself assigned to computer school in Italy, one of the world’s fashion epicenters.
“I was stationed in Naples but in my off-time explored the shops in Florence and Milan. It kept my interest in fashion going through those years,” she says.
Recently, when a local fashion truck came onto the market, she decided to open a boutique that helps women put together a unique but affordable look.
“Everything I have is under $100,” she says. “I look in magazines and see how I can recreate expensive looks.”
CJKollective carries sizes from extra small to 3XL.
With the fashion truck, Jackson expands her customer base beyond Bel Air.
Shavon Massey, looking for a way to have a reunion of old friends from her former home in Washington, D.C., thought that a private fashion truck party would be just their style. The event took place right in front of her home which, she says, became a source of envy for her neighbors. There was no charge for a two-hour event, noted Massey, and she came away with several free gifts.
Massey provided food and wine for her guests.
“The truck is laid out just like a boutique, and Courtney has a sound system,” she says. “It was a sip and dance and try-on-clothes party. Courtney was a great host.”
Back at the Conowingo Road store, Jackson notes that women can make a day of taking care of themselves at all the businesses in Lunar Bay Wellness Studio, a complex of businesses in which her store is located.
“You can take a yoga class, get a massage, indulge in energy healing sessions and buy a nice outfit, all under one roof,” she says.