For the people who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about the story behind you.
I launched my Airstream Boutique last May and since then I have been traveling throughout the tri-state area in NY to different markets, music festivals, partnering with hotels and breweries. I currently do not live in my trailer but do spend weekends in it when I am traveling to these particular events! My goal, however is to eventually travel cross country and be on the road full-time selling my clothes!
Before starting my own business, I recently graduated college and working as a Personal Shopper in Manhattan. Definitely fun but nothing I could see myself doing for my whole life. For the short amount of time I was in the fashion industry, I saw myself falling more and more into a miserable state. I was very unhappy and bored with what I was doing. I would sit at work all day and daydream about owning my own business and traveling. But how can someone do this? I became fascinated with the idea of Mobile Retail shops and knew this is what I wanted to do, especially since it wasn’t popular in New York! It took about a good year to plan everything and finally quit my job. Even though, no one really knew what I was doing. And the people that did know thought I was absolutely insane to leave a stable job especially in the fashion industry.
My whole idea for the Mobile Boutique started with a box truck, then it went onto vintage trucks, and then I found a beat up 1972 Airstream. I wanted to be able to bring women my sense of style and my knowledge of unique brands that you normally can not find at brick and mortar locations. When I was a personal shopper in Manhattan and even throughout college, I would always receive so many complements on funky things I would wear. And I thought the Airstream would be the absolute perfect fit for my sense of style and for the bohemian lifestyle I wanted to portray!
You said that your goal is to eventually live and work full time on the road, so I suppose this is the reason you decided to build your business on wheels. What does this “vandwelling lifestyle” mean to you?
Yes, my main goal is to eventually live and work full time in my Airstream Boutique and I can NOT wait for that day to come! For me, the “vandwelling lifestyle,” is a chance to live my dream life: filled with adventure instead of physical things. I want to meet new people, travel the country, and sell really cool clothes. It may sound like I’m living in a fantasy world but that really is okay with me.
You said that people who knew what you were planning thought you were absolutely insane. How did you realize that it was possible to do that against the common life path? Was it difficult to be that different and take the plunge?
My entire life I have always been known by family and friends to break “social norms,” whether that meant the clothing I decided to wear or how I thought. I was raised to be a very strong, independent woman and knew what I wanted to accomplish in life at a very young age. When my idea of starting my Airstream Boutique, Bohemian Groove, was not an idea anymore it was a dream, I was determined despite what ANYONE thought to make my dream a reality.
I don’t think anyone can ever be fully prepared to quit their job and start their own business—let alone a business that’s not very common. When I would explain to people the reason I quit my job was to start a traveling boutique, they looked at me as if I was crazy! I think they were worried for me because it was something they had never heard of before.
The most difficult thing for me before taking the leap was getting over the fear of failure. I was about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life; I was definitely nervous but couldn’t let anyone see just how scared I was. At a certain point, though, nothing else matters and you just need to say, ‘Fuck it,’ and go for it, and that’s exactly what I did.
My favorite thing now is running into friends who I told about my venture and their response is, “Wow, I cannot believe you actually did it.”
Tell us a little bit about your 1972 Airstream. What is the story behind it? Did you convert it in a traveling clothing boutique by yourself?
At 23, I saw myself struggling to find my happy place within the fashion industry. Throughout college, I interned for many celebrity stylists, fashion designers, and showrooms. But not once did I ever say to myself, “Wow this is what I want to do.” The “grind” of working and living in New York is not for everyone. I was a full time student taking 18 credits each semester, interning, working over 40 hours a week and still trying to have somewhat of a social life. You can say that I was just a little bit drained by the time I graduated!
This whole idea of starting a mobile business came about not long after I graduated college and was working as a personal shopper in Manhattan. I started to see the trend of mobile business become popular on the West Coast and thought how perfect would that be to start a boutique that you can travel all over the country with and sell clothing. But in all honesty, how would I be able to make this happen?
My 1972 Airstream, Bohemian Groove is a dream on wheels. I found this baby about a little over a year ago and it definitely needed a lot of TLC but I was extremely determined to make it into everything I wanted and more. Being raised in New York, you can definitely call me a city girl—I have no experience working on trailers! I honestly had no idea where to even start or what a renovation process even entailed. I worked with a company called Nomad, up in Plattsburgh, New York, that specializes in custom built Airstream trailers. I had all these crazy ideas on how I wanted the Airstream to look, all my inspirational images (probably way to many)… and their designer, Andrea, got to work. When creating a brand and vision, especially starting from scratch, it was very important to me that everything played well with each other; I am very detail oriented, and Andrea totally understood my idea of “Luxe Bohemia” that I wanted to portray for Bohemian Groove.
How would you describe a normal day in your life now?
Jeez, my days are always different. I am someone who used to love a schedule and a planned out day since I was so used to 9-5 jobs. Since owning my own business, I’ve learned that I just have to go with the flow—nothing is set in stone. Somedays, I’ll have to do tons of work on the computer, other days, I’m sending out online orders, taking a trip into Manhattan to check out showrooms or traveling with the Airstream on the weekends. Time management is key and my daily planner definitely keeps me in check!
Best and worst moments you have faced in this adventure?
Since launching in May, the adventure has been a roller coaster…. but one that I never want to get off (If that makes any sense). There are not any moments that I would consider bad; there are days that are way more stressful than others, but then there are days that make me realize why I’m doing what I’m doing. I would so much rather be stressed out and problem solving for my own company than working for someone else.
Bohemian Groove is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Owning and running a business at the age of 24 was never something I ever imagined myself doing. When people come into the Airstream and are utterly amazed, the feeling is just indescribable. The thing I hear most is “OMG I WANT TO LIVE IN HERE.” It’s really cool that I can inspire people to go off on their own adventure and change their life in a positive way. I have met some amazing souls through my travels so far and some have even turned into really great friends. When women walk out feeling beautiful and confident in something they purchased in my store, my job is done.
Where do you look for ideas, resources, inspiration, help… on building a business?
Inspiration is everywhere. Traveling and meeting different people have really opened my eyes to a lot of new things. It’s great to see what wonderful businesses people start or ideas they have.
Whether it’s walking down your neighborhood street, going to a coffee shop, or traveling to a different state, it’s important to disconnect yourself a bit from social media and actually open your eyes to see what this world has to offer. You’d be surprised where you can find some inspiration.
Many people who are just starting out are scared to do what you are doing. What advice would you give to yourself back when you were starting out? Anything you wish you knew before you started your business?
Like I said before, I don’t think anyone can ever be fully prepared to be an entrepreneur, it’s impossible. I was under the impression before I started, that I would be able to do EVERYTHING by myself. And that’s not always the case. I’ve learned that it is okay to ask for help (this has taken me a very long time to do). Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I have not only learned so much about business but so much about myself throughout this journey.
When I look back thus far I wish I would have been able to tell myself or even prepare myself for how much negativity and criticism I would face. Starting a business by yourself is an amazing goal to begin with. People forget all the hard work and dedication that goes into creating a brand and making a vision a reality. When you start a business, all of a sudden EVERYONE becomes a business person and they feel the need to tell you not what you’re doing right but what you’re doing wrong! It’s actually pretty comical.
The best advice I was given when starting my business was: “Never compare yourself to others.” This has stuck by my side throughout this whole process. Competition is everywhere, there’s always going to be someone doing this and someone doing that. Do what you need to do to give yourself the life you want and you feel happy with! Who cares what everyone else is doing or what they think, you know yourself better than anybody. Go out there and prove everyone wrong 🙂
What’s next? Short term, mid term, long term.
The great thing about being mobile is I can really pick up and go anywhere. That’s the wanderlust life that Bohemian Groove strives for. So for now, we plan on staying in New York this summer and then we are headed down south in November. The open road awaits us.
I hope that wherever this adventure takes me, I will truly be able to say I lived out my dream.