What is the Tin Lizzy Mobile Boutique? What inspired you to start this as a business?
Tin Lizzy Mobile Boutique is my little boutique on wheels. I travel the DMV area setting up shop at various locations- street fairs, festivals, popping up on the side of the street, private parties, fundraisers, basically anywhere I can! I have always had dreams of owning my own business. I went to school for fashion then worked for various fair trade organizations and decided I wanted to open a boutique selling all ethically made goods. I wrote a business plan for it and quickly realized I didn't have nearly enough money to cover start up costs. Rather than go through the headache of attempting to get a loan at age 25 with no entrepreneurial experience or collateral, I started to think about other options. The startup costs and overhead of running a mobile retail store are SO much less (not to mention the benefit of owning my space) but being able to travel makes the business incredibly versatile. There are obviously challenges associated with having a store on wheels but being able to bring my shop to DC, Baltimore, and all of the surrounding towns and suburban areas is amazing.
What are "ethically made goods" and why is this so important to Tin Lizzy?
At the core of Tin Lizzy is the concept of "thoughtful shopping" which is my way of summing up fair trade, ethically made and locally sourced goods. The short version - sweatshop and child labor free goods, nothing has been mass-produced, everything has a story behind it. The long version - I buy mostly from organizations that work directly with artisans in impoverished regions that ensure they are paid a fair living wage for the goods they make. I also carry one made in the USA line and a few local artists in the truck.
What's been the toughest part about turning an idea into a full-time entrepreneurial effort?
The reality is that working on your entrepreneurial effort full-time can be very lonely. Soon I hope to have the resources to hire but for now, it's just me plugging away. I wear a lot of hats so inevitably I'm responsible for things that aren't necessarily my strong suit or things I don't always enjoy doing. Also, there just aren't enough hours in the day for all of the things you need and want to get to done. Financially, there are a lot of challenges as well. I keep as much money as possible in my business for growth so to pay my rent and personal expenses I try to make "personal" money with side gigs like consulting and I stay on a very tight budget.
What is the most important thing you can attribute the success of your "side hustle" to?
Honestly, putting a lot of time, thought and dedication into my business. It's very easy to get discouraged but you really have to be patient, be persistent and stay positive. When something doesn't work, I try not to waste time letting it get me down - I try something else. I will also say that having a lot of support both personally and in my business has been incredibly helpful. I have had a few wonderful small business mentors, I have a great bookkeeper I can call when confusion strikes and I have built a community of small business owning friends that understand the everyday challenges.
Where can people go to learn more about your business/side hustle?
If you're in the DMV area, there's a good chance Tin Lizzy will be near your neighborhood sometime this Fall. You can check our schedule, shop online and learn more at www.shoptinlizzy.com. Also, you should go follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter (@shoptinlizzy) for new product pics and posts about our whereabouts and adventures.
MYDM Side Hustles feature millennial entrepreneurs to showcase how they're using their work or business to grow their career and their pockets. Want to be featured? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.