If you live in a big city, you may have noticed the food truck phenomenon that has been gracing the streets over the last couple years. Actually, you may have noticed this in small towns too. In my small college town of Davis, there were a couple food trucks on campus daily. But that is neither here nor there.
Stores on wheels are an option business owners are very open to these days. When Stacey Steffe, 35, and Jeanine Romo, 25, noticed the mobile business craze, they developed an even more creative version of it, Le Fashion Truck. Steffe and Romo are the creators of the first truck to roam about the nation on wheels, set up shop at your local festival or street fair, and sell clothing and accessories. Their truck, equipped with a fitting room, currently houses Tiffany Kunz Collections, ellelauri, and SPECTRE.
Steffe, a Bakersfield Native, worked in corporate America once upon a time but decided to venture out and see what other opportunities she could take advantage of. Fresh out of her office life, Steffe helped a friend open a men’s apparel store. That was her first taste of retail. That experience, added to her desire to have her own business helped pave the road to her current location. She said is not exactly where she thought she would be at this point in her life but there were a few things she did know. “I thought I would feel thirty five. I still feel nineteen,” she said. “I thought I would have children and be a soccer mom.” She also mentioned the possibility of her being a teacher at this point. Oh, how different her life turned out!
Romo also didn’t see herself managing a pastel pink fashion truck. “I’m not quite sure where I thought I would be but it would definitely be in fashion,” she added to the conversation. The woman who grew up in the Montebello, a city in Los Angeles County, pictured herself working for someone else, whether that be designing or styling. Before that was a possibility, she just knew that she wanted to be a creative. Romo actually stumbled across the field. During her early university years, she knew she wanted a career in the arts but also knew that was very broad. After talking with her advisor, she started taking design courses.
Right now, Le Fashion Truck carries Romo’s jewelry line and in addition to the brands listed above from other designers. They usually sell items from three brands at a time and are open to seeing the work of designers to feature in their store on wheels. Soon, there will be even more of the products offered from the pair in Le Fashion Truck. “We’re working on our own designs,” said Steffe.
With over 2,000 likes on the Le Fashion Truck Facebook, the duo is reaping the fruits of their labor. In September 2010, Steffe and Romo began planning. After three months of discussing, obtaining and customizing their truck, and connecting with designers whose clothing they would sell, Le Fashion Truck hit the road. They went to their first event in January of 2011.
Since then, Le Fashion Truck has traveled to many cities in southern California. One of their favorite stops was at the Bloom Festival. When they are not listening to the loud sounds of their truck, which they demonstrated for me, you can see Steffe and Romo grooving to classic rock and music from the 80s. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Santigold Pandora stations can also be heard from their speakers, among others. “Sometimes you can find me Robyn’s Body Talk album,” said Steffe. The duo also recommended tracks from The Knife, a Swedish electronic music duo.
Once they get to their locations, they set up and ensure the truck is ready for the day’s patrons. But it takes more than just that. “It’s not as easy as [people] think it is,” said Steffe. Being a business without a stable location can be more difficult than one with a permanent space. “You have to figure out where to go, you have to tell people where to find you,” said Romo. A lot of work goes into it, but at the end of the day, it is worth it.
In addition to setting up shop at festivals, they also go to private parties, which they enjoy.
Hard work has lead to satisfaction. “There are a lot of rewarding things about it,” said Romo. Among them are the confessions from fellow business owners that seeing what the two are doing with Le Fashion Truck has been an inspiration, especially when it comes from those that have been in business for decades. The two also love the positive feedback they have received at all of their destinations. “The people are the most rewarding.” Early on, the truck was very different from the vendors traditionally seen at the various events but they have caught the attention of many.
After getting question after questions about how to launch a mobile retail store, the business owners started the West Coast Mobile Retail Association (WCMRA). “[The]WCMRA is a growing group of mobile retailers on the west coast working in collaboration with the same goal – to bring recognition and growth to the innovative industry of mobile boutiques and services,” reads their website. This week, they printed up their first quarterly newsletter, which maps out all of their current members who can be found in Los Angeles, Northern California, Washington, and Oregon. The association, which turned one year old in September, most recently added the Southwest region with a business in based in Arizona making them twenty-two members strong.
If you want to score some tips and advice from the pair on how to create your own mobile business, Steffe and Romo offer that as well. They host a monthly webinar and the next one is coming up quick. Here are the details!
WCMRA presents How to Launch Your Mobile Retail Business. It is taking place Sunday, October 21, 2012 from 2—4:30pm at your humble abode, or wherever else you have internet access. You can register here!
If you just want to find Le Fashion Truck and grab some threads, find them at the following locations!
They will be beachside in Santa Monica on today, Friday, October 19, 2012 from 11:30am—6:00pm, then encouraging folks to head over to Front Porch Cinema at 200 Santa Monica Pier, Suite A, Santa Monica, CA 90401 to catch a showing of 500 Days of Summer!
On Friday, October 26, 2012, they will be at the Art Costume Crowd Cluster from 9pm—Until at gGallery LA – 319 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Le Fashion Truck Connections: