A cross-country move, becoming a new parent and opening a business are the kinds of transformative events that generally take place over the course of an entire lifetime.
Carolyn Rivera, one of our newest Style Encore® franchise owners, packed all that into only one short year – and at just 32 years old.
Making the Move toward a New Family and Business Life
In 2017, Carolyn left the Land of 10,000 Lakes in pursuit of the Atlantic Ocean, when she moved away from her home state of Minnesota and relocated to Fort Myers, Florida.
She and her husband set their sights on the coastal community after being faced with a life-changing decision just six months into their marriage.
“A few months after getting married, my mother-in-law passed away,” Carolyn said. “She had just adopted an eight-year-old boy, and my husband and I decided to step in and raise him. At the time, we were also looking at moving to New York for my husband’s job in finance, but we couldn’t see raising a child there.”
The Riveras decided Florida was the right move.
“Leaving your roots and much of your family is never an easy decision, but the Fort Myers community has been so welcoming,” Carolyn said. “Not only is it a great place to live and raise a family, I also could not have asked for a more supportive community to open my business.”
Setting Up Shop in a New Community
Carolyn’s Style Encore grand opening was just several weeks ago, on May 9, but her doors have been open since March. She spent those weeks buying inventory in preparation of her official opening, getting to know dozens of community members and spreading awareness for her new store.
“The community has really rallied around us – business owner after business owner,” Carolyn said. “Women come in and out of our doors every day, and they’re really amazing, professional and inspirational people.”
Aside from her interest in fashion and environmentally friendly businesses, Carolyn says the Style Encore concept especially appealed to her because of its tilt toward professional working women.
“The resale model – and this concept specifically – is such an awesome business because it’s really a community-based store,” Carolyn said. “It’s not all transactional. It’s about relationships.”
Just like any other local business, Carolyn’s customers are also members of her local community. But, within the two-tiered business model, those same community members – many of them also customers – are her suppliers as well.
“You rely on your community for your inventory, and it’s really easy to get to know people and develop those relationships within such an interesting, engaging business model,” Carolyn said. “It’s really nice to get to know so many other working women in the community, and I already have an immense sense of pride when I walk into the store.”
Although Carolyn is new to her Florida community and business ownership, it wasn’t all uncharted territory.
“I was already familiar with Style Encore before moving to Florida, so when I knew I wanted to open my own business when we relocated, it was always in the back of my mind,” Carolyn said. “I actually never even considered buying clothes from a resale store, until I went into a Style Encore in Minnesota.”
After walking into the store, Carolyn said she was impressed by the high-end quality and brand names she saw.
“I was amazed that I could get some really upscale designer, luxury brands and high-end names at such a small fraction of the retail price,” Carolyn said. “That’s what converted me into a customer – and funny enough, now a business owner.”
From Cars to Clothes: Gearing Up in the Resale Industry
Not only was Carolyn familiar with the Style Encore brand as a customer, she also understood the resale model from an entrepreneurial perspective. In fact, the family business she grew up with was also in resale.
“My dad started a commercial truck repair and fabrication business 20 years ago, and I worked for him my whole life, except in college,” Carolyn said. “The business, which they still own and run in central Minnesota, centers around purchasing commercial vehicles, making any necessary repairs or upgrades and reselling them to new buyers.”
Carolyn says her dad is her biggest confidant and cheerleader, and she regularly turns to him for business guidance. At the same time, she says the corporate support she has received within the Winmark franchise system has been instrumental.
“My experience with Style Encore and Winmark Corporation has been phenomenal, and I couldn’t really ask for anything more in a franchise,” Carolyn said. “If I have a question, the corporate team is always readily available and happy to help me out. They’ve been incredibly helpful preparing me for the opening, and I know I can also turn to other franchise owners in the system for firsthand advice.”
Although she opened her store just this month, Carolyn said she is looking forward to expanding with the brand, opening more stores and serving more communities with her business.
Are you interested in owning a business in the booming clothing resale segment? Learn more by downloading the Style Encore franchise report.