Kimberly Taylor, owner and operator of K'PreSha Boutique, a Downtown apparel store, celebrated her birthday on May 1st. She also recently observed the third anniversary of K'PreSha. So what "gift" would send her "over the moon with excitement?"
The answer is mobile and it was slated for an unveiling Thursday (May 8th) in front of City Hall at 125 N. Main St.
The gift is an opportunity courtesy of the Mayor's Innovation Delivery Team (MIDT), which – in conjunction with alt.Consulting, a small business advisory and lender, is introducing MEMMobile, a small business incubator. MEMMobile is focused on developing and launching a fleet of mobile retail trucks that represent a diverse variety of merchandise and service offerings.
The goals of MEMMobile are to provide more diverse retail options; encourage small business growth; promote local artists and designers; and increase activity in public areas in the community. The initial set of five MEMMobile trucks are:
· Henny Penny – women's apparel (Facebook.com/HennyPennyMemphis);
· K'PreSha's Haul of Fashion – men and women's apparel (Facebook.com/KPreShaBoutique);
· Sache T-shirt Truck – custom-printed T-shirts (SacheDesign.com);
· Thigh High Jeans – repurposed denim apparel (ThighHighJeans.com);
· The Bikesmith – bicycle sales and repair (BikeSmithTruck.com).
"We were given the task of figuring out how to help businesses start and grow," said Abby Miller, MIDT program director. "So, we started looking at inner cities in Nashville, Chicago, New Orleans and St. Louis (to) see what was working with regards to their small businesses.
"And one thing we saw was how mobile retail was really taking off and how here in Memphis, food trucks were flourishing. But we didn't have a lot of retailers testing other business models using the truck."
Taylor independently started researching fashion mobile trucks almost 18 months ago. Later she learned that MEMShop – which creates partnerships to activate spaces, test new business concepts, and provide business support services to help sustain and grow local businesses – might make loans available to do just that. After navigating through the application process, Taylor is now set to extend the mobile version of her brick-and-mortar location at 323 S. Main St.
The almost 19-foot-long, air-conditioned truck, originally purchased in Dixon, Tenn., is equipped with wood ceilings and floors, a dressing room, and has a hallway resemblance on the inside – hence the name, K'PreSha's Haul of Fashion.
"I wanted to offer a platform for local designers. I plan to have the truck focus on more local cut and sew designers as well as accessory designers," said Taylor.
The mobile retailers were able to pursue their aspirations through the forgivable loan program.
"We are in partnership with MEMShop for managing the forgivable loan fund and providing one-on-one management training to all the mobile retail businesses for the required next two years," said Cynthia Norwood, managing director for alt.Consulting.
"And they are held accountable through a quarterly business monitoring process where they are meeting with our management consultant. We helped them with their business plan and the financial projection. We spent numerous hours going over the financial model, start up costs and expenses in the beginning and we will also keep in contact with each retailer to see how their sales are. Are they profitable? And how many events are they setting up at each month to make any necessary adjustments."
Taylor said K'PreSha's Haul of Fashion will be where the people are. That includes but is not to: college campuses, festivals, farmer's markets, private shopping parties, Midtown, and maybe tag along with some of the local food trucks.
As for a second truck in the future, Taylor is hopeful. She already envisions a children's clothing section called Makayla's Corner, inspired and named after her 5-year-old daughter.
(To keep up with K'PreSha's Haul of Fashion, visit Facebook/Twitter and Instagram @kpreshaboutique and @kpresha for locations and times.)