Podcast: Using Hustle & Heart to Bring Your Small Business Plan to Life
In this episode of Money Smarts, a podcast of Summit Credit Union, we talk with a local mom who gave up her day job to follow her dream - even though she quit for a little while, she never gave up. Hear how Summit Credit Union helped her bring her plans to life as a successful small business owner who now supports other entrepreneurs and continues to instill the entrepreneurial spirit in her children.
AMY CROWE: Welcome to Money Smarts, a podcast of Summit Credit Union, where we connect people and inspire action to create member and community wealth. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, Summit Credit Union exists to improve our members' lives and help them reach their dreams. Our Money Smarts podcast is just one way we engage members in the community in conversations about money that inspire you to spend smart, save more, and take action to build a richer life.
Welcome to Money Smarts. I’m Amy Crowe, the financial education specialist at Summit Credit Union and your host for our time together today. We’re delighted to have Heidi LeHew here today, owner of a small business called ReKindled, to talk about her journey to bring a mobile pop-up shop to our area. Welcome, Heidi.
HEIDI LEHEW: Hey, thanks. So happy to be here.
AMY: Awesome. I am thrilled to be able to talk to you today because you are the owner of Winnie…
HEIDI: That’s right.
AMY: …a mobile pop-up RV that pops up all around the Madison and Milwaukee area with wonderfully crafted, curated products that you have created yourself.
HEIDI: You’re awesome. That’s sweet. Thank you.
AMY: And that you have somehow found. I look at the stock inside Winnie, and I say to myself, where the heck did she find that?
HEIDI: Everywhere, yep.
AMY: Because it’s totally calling to me, and I want all of it right now.
HEIDI: That’s awesome. Well, thank you. I think a lot of people recognize Winnie before they recognize me. And, they know her name more than they know mine, generally. It’s like, oh, you have the Winnie. Yeah, that’s me. I’m Heidi. And it’s been a process. It’s been so fun like to look back where I started and then where I am now and how the products have changed and how the inventory has rotated and bringing on other small businesses. It’s been such a cool ride.
AMY: So when did it start?
HEIDI: So I actually started my business in 2012. I had worked in a corporate office, like many people. I managed a call center, and then I managed a sales team, and I was in sales. And it was just not really, if you know my personality, cubicles were not fit for me. I don’t think I was cut out to do that. And the timing was perfect. We were expanding our family. And my husband worked at the same company, and I said, honey, I really think I need to quit my job, stay home. Let’s start our family. And then I want to start a business. And he said, okay, well, you can do that. So I did, like right there. I quit right there.
AMY: Oh, wow.
HEIDI: And he’s like, well, I didn’t…
AMY: That’s jumping.
HEIDI: Yeah, he said I didn’t mean for you to quit right now. I said, well, too late. So nothing like being thrown right in, right? So that was in 2012, and that was when, you know, Pinterest was a big deal, and everybody had these pallet projects and learning chalk paint and stuff. And so my business was very crafty from the beginning. And it was, I guess, just me trying to find my place. And so it gave me some time to teach myself how to be better at all the things. I bought tons of tools. I taught myself how to use them, saws and whatever.
AMY: So it wasn’t something like you learned when you were little how to use equipment like that.
HEIDI: Not really. My dad was a contractor, so I watched it, you know, my whole life. He built custom log homes that were, you know, just to die for. So I watched my dad forever, but I didn’t really care for it. It wasn’t like my gig. But then once I got my hands dirty, it was almost like I was meant to do that, you know. I just, I loved learning. I loved building things. And they didn’t always turn out. You know, a lot times, they were pretty junky. And then I just got better and better and better, and I learned how to paint furniture, and I got a better eye for things, you know, vintage and whatnot.
So, yeah, so it started in 2012. I wanted to be different. I wanted to find a way to standout from everybody else. When you go to craft shows or markets and events, there are seas of white tents. Everybody has the same setup. And so it’s so hard to be different. Nobody really sees you for what, you know, your inventory, what you have. So what better way to be different than to buy a 24-foot RV and cut a hole in it and make a deck and filled all with things, right? So that set me apart.
AMY: Well, and it was a little bit of an adventure to try and find her.
HEIDI: Oh, man. So, yeah, I mean, it was, we could write a book about the adventures of just finding…
AMY: Well, you should.
HEIDI: Yeah, maybe someday. We’ll talk about that. So it all started, actually, I bought my kids a toy Winnebago. It was a, just a vintage metal Tonka truck, and I just gave it to them to play with. And the boys were outside one day, and I just loved that boxy shape. It was perfectly rectangular. I just kind of imagined camping in something like that and how cool it would be to be in like a tiny home, almost. So I watched them play, and I said to my husband, you know, that truck could be a mobile store. And he, you know, he knows me well enough. And he said, yeah, no, Heidi. We’re not doing that.
I said, well, we don’t have to, but I kind of feel like I want to do that. So I bought another one of those toys, somehow found one, and I cut it apart, and I used popsicle sticks and built all the furniture and kind of like cultivated my dream inside this toy. And I finally showed it to him and wrote my business plan. And he said, well, that doesn’t sound so bad. So that’s how it all started, was literally in that toy.
AMY: So did you go and use area resources to write your business plan?
HEIDI: Funny enough, Summit was where I found all of my help. I went to school for business, but I feel like real-life experience and what you learn in a classroom are so drastically different. I wrote many business plans when I was in school, I had a good grasp on what you needed, but I don’t think I really knew what the bank would be looking for when it came, when push came to shove. Thank gosh I was here, you know, at Summit to do that because Julie, who I worked with, gave me so much feedback on, okay, this is great, Heidi, but we’re going to need more of this. And she just walked me through that whole thing.
And I, I’ll never forget the day I took that toy Winnebago and that business plan to Julie, and I set it on her desk. And she looked at me like I lost my mind. Like this is what you’re doing? Holy crap, you know. And then she was just digging in, and I could see the excitement and that she was, you know, happy to be a part of the whole process.
AMY: Oh, that’s awesome.
HEIDI: Yeah, it was so cool.
AMY: So you kind of went from one of those white tents to this mobile experience.
HEIDI: Big time, yeah.
AMY: That brands who you are and what you do in itself.
HEIDI: It really does. And having such a strong core product base of vintage stuff, I felt like I couldn’t just do anything. You know, it couldn’t be just any truck. It had to be something that gave you a feeling. You know, I don’t think we buy things based on what you see alone or price alone. When you come into the Winnebago, it’s like, I don’t know, it’s like this feeling that you get, something nostalgia.
AMY: I would agree.
HEIDI: You know, you think about, yeah.
HEIDI: And I think people buy based on that feeling - that comfort - the smells that you get when you’re inside the truck of the different candles and things. It just, it makes you feel very comfortable so that you can see those products in your home, or you think about that friend you’re buying a gift for. The Winnebago does all of that. I don’t. You know, I’m just kind of the vessel. But she really just gives off this crazy shopping feeling.
AMY: Do people look at it and kind of go, what is that? Can I get in that? Like can I walk in that?
HEIDI: All the time, I mean, seriously. So here’s what I always tell people. Little kids and old men love the truck itself. So I get the question, what kind of engine is in it? How much gas you, you know, what’s the gas mileage? What kind of transmission is in there? And it’s funny to talk to, you know, older men who have worked on trucks. You know, they’re mechanics. They like to get their hands dirty. And to have that conversation with them and be able to speak to that has always just been so much fun.
Little kids love to come sit in the front seat, of course, and look out the big windows. And the steering wheel is like twice their size, and they love that. But it gives them, really does give them that experience. You know, the moms then can relax, and they can look around and enjoy it while the kid is usually hanging out with me eating candy and . . .
AMY: Oh, that’s so awesome.
HEIDI: It is really fun.
AMY: So what’s a day in a life look like for you? Because obviously, you have to spend time curating and finding and crafting and making and, oh, my goodness, I can’t even imagine.
HEIDI: Yeah. It’s a lot of stuff. It really is. I guess, you know, knowing a little bit about me probably helps answer that question better. I don’t sleep a lot. I really don’t enjoy downtime. I don’t, you know, when people say, oh, I’m going to curl up with a good book, that makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t. I mean, I love good books. But to sit down for an hour would just kill me. I can’t do that. So I am a go, go, go kind of person anyway, but I’m also balancing my family and my business. And so during the day, as a stay-at-home mom, I can do all the things with the kids. We bake cookies. We decorate. We go shopping. We take care of the groceries and the dog.
And then, you know, at night when they’re sleeping, that’s when I really focus on my business. You’ll often get replies to my emails at 1:00 in the morning. Or I’m sewing in the basement trying to be quiet at 1:00 in the morning. That’s just kind of what I do. But I also find ways during the day to including the kids in all that stuff. They love this Winnebago. They think it’s like their clubhouse.
HEIDI: I know. My daughter Makayla calls it the Bago. So she always say, Mom, let’s go work in the Bago. And I’ll give them a stack of things and stickers, and they price stuff. Or they, you know, my son, this summer, was helping paint and polyurethane and cleaning things. And, you know, they really have gotten involved in the whole process. So it’s really just a balance for what works best.
AMY: Well, you’ve created little entrepreneurs in them…
HEIDI: I hope so.
AMY: …from a very young age. And that’s not only just being a small business owner. That’s an entrepreneurial spirit in terms of creating and crafting and, you know, not being on the video games and being interested in those types of things. So, you know, a lot of times, people try and figure out if they’re going to run a small business when they’re an adult or in their second life.
HEIDI: That’s right.
AMY: Cultivating entrepreneurialism in kids is so critical to their, you know, brain power and what they potentially might be able to feel like they can do in their lives. That, I just love that you do that with them because it’s teaching them so much more.
HEIDI: Yes. I don’t think, for me, anyway, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way, for a couple of reasons. I don’t think the, you know, what society sees as the typical job, I don’t think that’s the right path for everybody. I think there are entrepreneurial people who start at that young age. I want them to see that their mom works really hard and that she loves what she does, and they can do it too. I don’t have to go to work at 8:00 and come home at 5:00. That works for a lot of people. I can’t do it. I can’t sit still long enough.
I see it in my oldest son, Mason. He’s nine, and he is super squirmy wormy and so creative. So what better way to kind of wrangle that than give him a board and a screw gun and teach him how to start using those skills? He loves it. He’s responded so well to that. And while we’re doing those things, it’s funny the conversations that come up. They open up, and they tell you about school, and they talk about their feelings. And so getting them involved has been awesome. I love it.
AMY: I love it. So when you’re creating and curating, how do you pick the products that you have in Winnie?
HEIDI: It’s so funny. Every one, I feel like I remember the moment I saw or touched or looked at every single thing I’ve curated. It’s important to me to find small businesses who have a like mind, a hard work ethic, and who are doing great things. That’s very important to me. I wore this bracelet today. Branded Collective is a company out of Tennessee, and they, their story is so incredible. They are working at bringing awareness to human trafficking.
AMY: Oh, yes.
HEIDI: Yeah. And so they employ all women who are survivors of human trafficking. And the story alone is amazing, but the people who, the women who have started this business, the quality of jewelry is just phenomenal. And what a great gift. What an awesome piece to wear, something to talk about. The Winnebago has given me such a platform for that.
But I do, I remember a Sunday I was scrolling through Instagram because, you know, that’s kind of what we do. And for some reason, my phone froze on their, one of their photos. And I thought, ah, what’s going on with my phone? And it was almost like one of those moments where God said, stop. Look. I’m showing you something. It’s very blatant. It’s in your face. Stop. And I looked, and I thought, gosh, what beautiful jewelry. And then my phone unfroze. And I thought, well, if that’s not a sign, I’m not really sure what is.
And then I reached out to them, and everything on the truck happened that way. I really feel like it was just strategically placed. But it becomes like you meet one business who knows another business who you saw at a market, who, you know. The more you get involved in it, the more great people you meet. And there’s so many artists, crafters, small businesspeople who are just looking to grow their business too. It’s out there. You don’t need to go onto Amazon to buy all those things. You can just get them locally.
AMY: Well, and you’re creating amazing partnerships with people, right?
AMY: I mean, we all want to connect. We all want to help each other. We all want to lift each other up, right?
AMY: And so your business is not only what you craft yourself and create, but you’re, like you said, you’re creating this platform of connection with other businesses.
HEIDI: Yeah. I, that’s a great way to put it. I am in charge of the Winnebago. That’s what I’m good at. I’m good at finding vintage. I’m good at making old things beautiful. I can’t make candles. I cannot make jewelry. I cannot craft vintage-looking greeting cards. I can’t do it. I would love to. But why would you want to even try when there’s so many talented people out there who you can lift up too at the same time? So that was the whole point. I will stick to what I’m good at. And, you know, stay in your lane. That’s what I always say. Like here’s my lane. Heidi, stay in your lane and then bring along all the other people at the same time.
So when you look at things like the t-shirts from Matted Ink, and Doe A Deer is so good at the tea towels and the jewelry and all the things. It’s just cool to know that I know who made that. She has two kids. She’s busting her hump. Their family, you know, don’t email on Sunday morning because I know they’re going to church. It’s just a cool world to be in.
AMY: Well, and you were just over at Booth 121 in Monona…
AMY: …wonderfully crafted store who pulls folks together.
HEIDI: Big time.
AMY: And you had Winnie out there.
HEIDI: Yeah. So Leah and Becky have owned that store, they just had their fourth birthday party. And I’ve been lucky enough to be there as a vendor inside for just over three years already, I think. So I have a ton of vintage and curated things in the store. But they have over 100 vendors too, small, local businesses that they support and bring their work to the public. So they invited me to come, and they’ve done that so many times. And it’s the same concept, other business owners who are really just looking to encourage and support and grow other businesses. It really is that community over competition concept. And it’s awesome.
AMY: And you’ve been at the Madison Night Market.
HEIDI: Yes. Oh, man, there’s, Saturday is another, is the last Madison Night Market. Same thing, streets lined and filled with local vendors that, you know, you just don’t think about. So easy to run to Target and grab a gift for somebody, but there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, right here in our area that could supply such a better quality of product and a more thoughtful gift.
AMY: That have, you know, a person’s value system behind it, and they have something that’s crafted. And it’s, yes, it’s just…
AMY: Yes, it’s just so unique.
HEIDI: You can’t find it everywhere. Yeah, yep.
AMY: Oh, absolutely. You have so many unique products. And it’s, what’s your, what’s the top two favorite products that you have?
HEIDI: Oh, man.
AMY: That either you’ve created, like, you know…
HEIDI: Oh, good one.
AMY: …like have you, you know, hammer and nails and, but then you were almost like, I don’t really want to sell this.
HEIDI: Yeah. There’s a lot of those. My husband is like, Heidi, we have a piece of furniture against every wall in the house. Stop it. But for me, like I love that old things have a story. You know, often times when you buy an old dresser or something with a mirror, behind that is a newspaper from the 1920s, or you can see the intricate dove tailing. You know, that furniture, to me, is just so incredible. It tells such a beautiful story.
So really, what gets me the most is the vintage. That’s why I stick to that. And I love, you know, there are vintage pieces that they just need to be upgraded. So I do paint furniture. I know that’s kind of like a, you know, some people agree with that. Some people don’t. I won’t paint a piece that is in good condition, you know, just throw it back into the house. But I do like taking an older piece and creating it for a modern home. That’s one of my favorite passions. I love, love, love that.
But I do, I have to say that, you know, of all the curated things that are in the truck, really, the Branded jewelry has gotten my heart because I feel like it’s such a heavy topic that we have a hard time talking about. And for me to be able to share that with thousand, tens of thousands of people every year has been a huge blessing. I think that’s just awesome.
AMY: Yeah, you’re being able to serve people and share and bring awareness through your business.
AMY: And it not only allows you to be, you know, your entrepreneur and to spend time with your kids and to create, I pause to say work-life balance because you’re up at 1:00 a.m. doing things, but I think also that work-life balance thing, it’s different to everybody, right?
HEIDI: Oh, for sure. Listen, 99% of the population could never run on my schedule because it’s just not normal. I get it. I’m not cut from the same cloth as most people. But I think everybody has to find that balance in order to be proud of your work, in order to be happy with what you’re doing.
You know, everybody chases what they see on social media. We were talking about this earlier. Everybody chases that perfect photo. Everybody chases the super clean house and all these things. But the reality is it doesn’t work for everybody. You may not know that that photo, curated photo had ten helpers and a nanny and an assistant and a cleaning lady all behind the scenes. Well, that doesn’t work for all of us. It certainly doesn’t work in my house.
AMY: Yeah. So there’s this really great quote that I found when I was researching you for our interview from Channel 3000. It literally gave me chills.
HEIDI: Oh, no. I’m going to cry. I know it.
AMY: Well, that’s why there’s Kleenex.
AMY: You said, I have a daughter now, but I’m not giving up on my dream. I’m just not.
HEIDI: See, look. You’re totally going to make me cry. Okay. That makes me cry only because I did give up for a little while. Like that’s kind of reality. I think everybody, it’s so hard. It really is hard starting a business. Nobody, you know, there’s not a plan for it. There’s not like a book that says, A to B to C. That is not how it works. Plus, when you’re growing a family, like that makes it that much more difficult. And so I had, we had our boys, Mason and Max, and they were so boy, you know, very boy, like playing in the dirt, just doing their thing. Super easy kids, they were so sweet.
And then you have this little girl that comes along, and it’s almost like, I don’t know, reality just kind of just smacks you a little bit, as a mom. I don’t know if that works the same for everybody. Well, you have a daughter. You kind of…
AMY: I do.
HEIDI: …know how this works. And it was almost like, you know, I had let life win, and I had put everything on the back burner because I thought I was doing the right thing. And then I realized this little girl is going to be looking up to me for all the things, everything that I do. Not only how I love my husband or how I treat my kids or how I make spaghetti sauce, you know, she’s going to see all that, but she’s going to see if Mom decides to quit. I want her to do and follow in the footsteps of the example that I lead. So quitting did not, was not an option anymore. The back burner didn’t exist anymore. It was like this smack of reality, you know, that kind of comes tumbling in.
And I’m thankful for that. I’m really am thankful for that because, you know, I may have just put it off too long, and then the opportunity would have passed by, and I would have never known. So I remember that moment. I, you know, I had kind of a difficult pregnancy with her. We went in early to have her. I had the Winnebago. I finally landed on the Winnebago, and it was home. And I had the mini Winnie. But there were still all these obstacles. And I remember being in the hospital. She was in the NICU, and my family was there. Everybody was there.
And I said to my dad, go take that mini Winnie and that big Winnie, and you take it to the fabricators, because I’m doing it. And he’s like, what? I said, well, I can’t drive it, Dad. Like I have 50 staples in my belly right now. You have to go take it. So he did. And it was just like, I mean, it was just the start of this huge thing. I didn’t know what it was going to create. So there, now I’m crying.
AMY: Oh, my gosh. That’s just bravery and courage and the tenacity to be like, I’m just going to keep doing this, right? You know, and you pulled in the help that you needed at the time. And you had already started the wheels in motion to have all these things happen, right?
AMY: And that’s just so amazing about your personality to be able to be like, hey, we’re just going to keep going. You know, and I got to find that balance, and I’m going to figure out what’s best for me, and I’m going to pull in the people who are going to help me to do it.
AMY: And we’re just going to keep moving on the journey.
HEIDI: Yeah, you have to. I mean, it’s like, if we waited for life to be perfect, what would we accomplish ever? Nothing. I mean, really, if I waited until the house was quiet enough for me to make dinner, nobody would eat. Like I make dinner in the middle of chaos, and that’s just the way it is. It’s the same concept with a small business, especially, you know, starting a small business. You have to be willing to put in the work and hustle, and don’t let all these other distractions, obstacles, get in your way. You’ll never do it.
And, you know, you get, I tell people all the time, you get one shot at this life. You just get one. And you don’t know how long it’s going to last, so why would you not just do all of the things in your life that make your life that much more rich? I mean, take advantage of all the opportunities. Do the things. Be tired. It’s okay. You get, you know.
AMY: Well, and then you have the barriers of money.
HEIDI: Yes, big time.
AMY: So, you know, not getting too personal, but share a little bit about, gosh, you bought a Winnebago.
HEIDI: I know.
AMY: And your dad went to go get it from out West. I know Julie helped you with a couple of different things. As you’re curating, and you’re like, you got to buy the tools, and you got to have this stock to be able to repurpose the furniture and, tell me a little bit about the ups and downs of that financial journey.
HEIDI: Yeah. I think, you know, being an open book, for me, has been the best approach I could take to it, so talking with the bank, talking with my husband, and just being realistic. There is, there’s something to be said about having a dream, and then there’s also reality, right? So there’s a fine line that you have to walk and plan, plan, plan. So when I started my business in 2012, I was fortunate enough that I was able to take all of the money, which really was not very much, that I was making through my business and squirrel that away.
My husband worked full time. He was successful at what he did. So he was able to support our household, while I was just constantly tucking what little money I was making at these little Pinterest projects. So I saved up all the money I could to buy my first RV. I bought it in California. I paid a shipping company to go get it.
AMY: Oh, wow.
HEIDI: And when they got there, it was an empty field. I had 100% been scammed. Thankfully, I didn’t give them all of the money up front. But the shipping company went, I had to pay them. Well, that was all the money I had saved, you know. So that was like a huge deflator. But then, you know, you rally, and you figure this back out again. And so my dad said, Heidi, I found this Winnebago. It’s exactly what you want, which, by the way, I strategically picked this Winnebago. It’s a 1972, because it’s boxy, and it’s called a Winnebago Brave.
HEIDI: Yep, I know. So they made a Brave, a Chieftain, and an Indian in that series of RVs. And very specifically, I wanted the word Brave to be with me everywhere I go because that’s just such a huge message, I think, that you, to encourage other people about being brave. So my dad said, I found this RV. And I said, Dad, you did not. You live in this like gated mountain community, and this, there’s no way this old rundown Winnebago is there. And he’s like, I’m serious. I said, well, if it’s there, then go buy it. Well, he did.
AMY: Oh, my gosh.
HEIDI: So he said, I went, and I looked, and the tires are good, and the engine is incredible. I got the oil changed. I’m driving out. And I said, what? So he did.
HEIDI: He brought it back to Wisconsin. And I love my dad, but he’s kind of a hippie, you know. Like he’s in that stage of life.
AMY: I love that.
HEIDI: So he’s driving down the interstate, you know, Facebook Live, hanging out the window.
AMY: No, he Facebook Lived you?
HEIDI: Oh, yeah, he did. And so we’re all like, put your phone down. You know, you’re, drive the RV. Put your phone down. So he brought it all the way back, and he couldn’t have been more proud and more excited. You know, he, I think secretly it was a reason to see his grandkids. But he will tell you today that was like one of the most fun two-day road trips of his life because he got to drive this Winnebago across the country. So when I got it here, the goal was Heidi is going to renovate this. But I knew what I wanted to do to it, and I thought, I build furniture, but I’ve never like ripped apart an RV.
AMY: Like literally ripped apart?
HEIDI: Yeah, literally. So I thought, well, what better way to do it than get a couple of cases of beer and invite all my friends over? So we did. So we, everybody came over, and we just started ripping and tearing everything out. And then I looked, and the frame of the Winnebago was not really even attached to the chassis, and I realized if that wall comes down, you know, this could be bad news. So I was good at a lot of things, but I wasn’t really good at like fixing a collapsed Winnebago. So that was the point when I realized I’m totally in over my head. I could YouTube something, I’m sure, but this is silly.
So really, the investment in the Winnebago itself wasn’t that great. A few thousand dollars, you can buy these old trucks. But where the chunk of the investment came was for the fabrication because I knew I wanted it done right, you know, so it could last. So that’s when we took the Winnebago up north. The company that actually finished the fabrication is called Caged Crow Customs Fabricators. They’ve done tons of food trucks in the Madison area.
AMY: Oh, wow.
HEIDI: And even he was like, okay, wait. You want to what? Huh? You want to do what to this truck? I said, yeah, let’s cut a hole, and let’s do all these things. But they did it. They took on the project, and they were able to do it over the winter so that it was ready in the spring.
HEIDI: So that was perfect. Yeah, so when I was in the process of, you know, figuring out, what’s the cost of this going to be, and then, of course, there’s always changes and additional costs, that’s when Summit came in super handy. Sat down with Julie, I told her my plan. Here’s what I want to do. Here’s what the cost is going to be. And she, you know, she saw the vision, but behind all that had to be the numbers, right? You have to put together your marketing plan and put together your budgets and your projections out five years, or I don’t even know how long.
And that process helped me see what I needed to do in order to, not only repay the loan on a timely basis, but to continue to grow my business. So that plan wasn’t just to secure a loan to finish the renovation. It was to put you, put the plan in action. So it was super helpful for more than just, you know, being able to get a check to finish the renovation on the truck itself.
HEIDI: And then it becomes a balance of priority in your business, right? You have to have stuff to make money. But then, you know, it’s a ‘72 Winnebago, so the mechanic bills and the unpredictable things come up. So for me, it was finding a sweet spot for capital to constantly have money in the bank, working capital, and how can I leave some of that money alone for the what ifs, and then this money is dedicated towards revolving inventory and always having fresh new stuff. Yeah, so it was kind of like this whole learning project. I just, you know, you just throw yourself in to it.
AMY: Yeah. So it’s not only the journey of: what are our personal finances in terms of our family with your husband working full time and working off his income to be able to have you be able to do the things you want to do to be able to save some money to bootstrap your business, to then want that loan to find Winnie, to pay for Winnie, to renovate Winnie. And then your journey into the having the savings and compartmentalizing your business money, just like you do your family’s money for the things you want and need and how to protect yourself, right?
HEIDI: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And I feel like now I’ve gotten to the place with my business that it’s becoming a sweeter, it’s easier to manage the finances, because I was smart about it at the beginning. So, you know, if you have $1,000 in your business account, that does not mean you go spend $950 on cool new inventory because $50 is not going to get you very far.
AMY: Even though you really want to spend some money on cool inventory.
HEIDI: Oh, yeah, totally. Or even like you saw a new pair of boots on sale. Let’s just take that out of the business account, no big deal. But now it’s to the point where I’m actually making living off of my business. So I can pay for home remodel projects. I can buy, you know, furniture or kids clothing. My big goal this year is to be able to, I don’t think my kids would listen to this, podcast, is to surprise them for Christmas with a family vacation. But all of that comes from the business account. And that’s so cool that I can pay down our debt behind the scenes, you know, work at upgrading our home or taking the family on a trip.
Stuff that, you know, may not have been possible just with my husband’s income is totally doable because now we’re just smart with how that money is balanced and where it goes and…
AMY: And you just open yourself up to so many more possibilities.
AMY: And you’re living your passion.
AMY: You know, not only are you creative, but you get to help other artisans be creative. Did you really think when you started this journey that you’d be impacting so many people and helping them and lift them up in terms of their money and finances?
AMY: But you’ve also lifted yourself up in terms of money and finances.
HEIDI: Oh, I never thought, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be able to bring in all of these talented people. One, I didn’t think they’d want really anything to do with me. Like, you know, sometimes I don’t think you realize your worth. You know, you don’t realize that, you are kind of cool, and people do want to be a part of that. I didn’t think that. I didn’t realize the impact the Winnebago would have, how many doors that would open. So as my business really grew and emerged quickly, I was able to bring on all these other people.
You know, and I still get thank you cards in all my packages, handwritten from these small businesses or just a random note that says, oh, thank you for posting that. I got five extra online orders because of it or, you know, whatever. It’s not, I’m not making anybody a millionaire, you know. But it’s really about all of us working together so we can all succeed. Yeah, it’s been so cool. I didn’t, I did not anticipate that. That wasn’t in the plan.
AMY: Yeah. The plan was, let’s do some fun things. Let’s create some fun things.
HEIDI: Yeah. And I really wish there was more time. I mean, I know I said I don’t sleep, but I wish there were like ten extra hours in the day because I think that the possibilities are just endless, you know, doing workshops out of the Winnebago.
AMY: Oh, that would be fun. I would come.
HEIDI: Yeah. Like teaching paint classes or how to find vintage things, just conversations, or getting a group of entrepreneurs together and encouraging each other. Last year, I was able to rent the Winnebago out for weddings. And that was such a hoot.
AMY: Wait. How did, what did they use it for?
HEIDI: It was amazing. So we opened the deck, and in the back of the Winnebago, parsed it off, and it was an Old Fashioned bar. And if you know me, Old Fashioneds are my favorite, brandy Old Fashioned sweet. So bar in the back, the TV had their wedding video playing. The guest book was in there. And then I created a photo booth so they could sit in front and all take their fun photos and stuff. And literally, this was outside of this huge barn. The DJ was inside. Well, the band had to come outside because everybody was congregating around the Winnebago. It was so fun.
AMY: Oh, my gosh, you stole the wedding from her kind of.
HEIDI: No, it was like a bigger wedding. Everybody came out.
AMY: Everybody came out.
HEIDI: It was just so great. But, you know, having more opportunities to do bigger things like that, I’d love to explore what rental, you know, would look like.
AMY: That’s a whole new product line for you.
HEIDI: Big time. Oh, how fun. I keep saying, maybe I need a fleet of Winnebagos.
AMY: Oh, my gosh.
HEIDI: Great idea.
AMY: Dream big, huge.
HEIDI: Yes. Big stuff.
AMY: Well, where can, okay, so I know this was a podcast, and so it was, you know, depending on when people see or hear it, but there’s probably a list of where they can find you somewhere on your social media and websites.
HEIDI: Yes. I’m always on Facebook and Instagram, of course. I think those are pretty common for everybody. So you’ll see me talking about upcoming events on there. But my . . .
AMY: Oh, and how can they find you? Because I don’t think we’ve actually dropped the name of your business yet.
HEIDI: Yeah, ReKindled & Co. So on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll find both ReKindled & Co. on there. My website too is just www.rekindledmadison.com. And on the very last tab of the website is always a list of events for each month. So you’ll be able to see where the Winnie is at. If you’re local, I’m at Booth 121. You can find tons of stuff there or pick up the phone and call me. And I have people at my house almost every day picking things up. So you’re welcome to do that too.
AMY: Oh, my gosh, that’s so great. So they can literally look and find your logo on the pieces over at Booth 121.
AMY: Oh, my gosh, that’s so great.
HEIDI: Yeah. And all the other people that are there, I mean, it’s a super fun store.
AMY: You walk in the store, and you’re just like, which way do I turn? Like you could just, you’re just slowly walking through it, right? What’s here? It’s just such a great opportunity. You know, you’re doing it mobily. Booth 121 has the brick and mortar store. Some people do the collectives online. It’s so great to be able to see people collaboratively working together to build themselves up. You know, they’re really owning it. They’re really being, like you said, brave.
And that’s what’s so authentic, I think, the community in the state of Wisconsin is trying to really find ways to build people up and to help them find local artisans and crafters who have visions and who have values like you do who just want to share their passion with people, right?
HEIDI: I think it’s really almost like this new shopping movement, I said, because I, it’s almost like it’s become trendy. I hate to even say that. But it’s almost like people are finally becoming aware of what you can purchase from a place other than the big box stores. And don’t get me wrong. Like we all shop at Targets and whatever. But it’s neat now that people are finally putting their money where their mouth is. And they say that they want to support small business, and now they’re actually doing it.
And this is like the perfect time of year for that, right? You’ve got all, you know, the coworker gifts and the, all the people in your family to buy for, whatever. What a better way to really support these businesses and makers than that?
AMY: Yeah. And you have an online shop?
AMY: Can they buy from you online?
HEIDI: You certainly can.
AMY: So they don’t need to go find Winnie somewhere if they don’t want to.
HEIDI: Yes, and it’s free shipping through the end of the year, which is crazy. I’ve never done that. So let’s see how this works out. I know. So tons of our apparel, our jewelry, makeup bags, a lot of vintage is not online, only because that changes so often. But again, people message me constantly, hey, can I come over today? I want to pick up whatever.
AMY: Oh, that’s so great.
HEIDI: Come on over.
AMY: Any closing thoughts that you’d like to share with the folks listening?
HEIDI: I don’t know who’s listening, so what I always tell everybody is if you, you know, if you doubt yourself, if you have a dream, and there’s just that little inkling of doubt, you just have to snip it out. Like and I’ll cry again. Look at what I’m doing. I do, I feel so strongly that a dream is meant to chase. You’re supposed to do that. That’s why we’re here. The world is a better place when everybody is happy and doing the things that they want. So put it on paper. Do your dream. Do you, and just go get it. I mean, there are obstacles. It’s not easy. But it, all of them are obtainable.
AMY: Oh, thank you so much for those closing thoughts.
HEIDI: Oh, my gosh, yes.
AMY: Oh, Heidi, thank you so much for coming in…
HEIDI: Thanks, for having me.
AMY: …taking time out of your busy, crazy schedule to be able to do that. And I just really appreciate your time today.
HEIDI: Thank you. I appreciate it. I love being here. It’s awesome.
AMY: Join us next time for our Money Smarts podcast to get more tips, tools, and advice on how you can own your money. Discover more money smarts at summitcreditunion.com. Like us on our Facebook page, Tweet us, or pin something from our Pinterest boards. That’s all for today. Thanks for listening, and remember, it’s your money. Own it.