The first time I drove a step van was actually hilarious and pretty embarrassing. I’m circling around a half dirt, half concrete parking lot leaning hard into the turns with a group of spectators’ heads moving simultaneously as I made my rounds. Dirt flying into the air as I hit the brakes, hard.
I can honestly say to this day that I have no idea what the hell I was thinking creating a mobile business out of a converted fed-ex truck! I would actually really love to know what I was thinking. It must be a combination of millennialism topped off with a graphic design degree, a little bit of savings money, one fuck-the-system attitude. Throw in some Pinterest DIY tutorials and the rest is history.
I can also honestly say that although this journey has been unexpected and hard, it has been so beautiful, too. I have learned a lot about myself and have watched strangers around me become unique friends. I have been humbled by the art of business. Most importantly I think I have grown. I am very thankful for that.
While I do feel hope for the future of this business, there are certain realities that need to be faced. So that’s what I will do is be very real with you. If you are reading this, that means that in some way you have support for this business and I honestly can’t thank you enough for that. What we have experienced with the city of Denver and the Denver City Council has been impactful and frankly pretty sad and sour. I truly built this business on a dream and if you’ve ever pursued a passion of yours then you might know that broken dreams can break your heart. I have felt at times that powers out of my control have been detrimental to this business and this dream and now we need your support, your ear and your voice to help us continue the movement that we started.
A quick backstory:
In June of 2016 the City of Denver issued an ordinance on fashion trucks due to the nonexistent permit for our business model. Simply put, there was no permit for mobile retailers and they had no idea what to do with us. So I get it, you’re a brick-and-mortar - you pay rent, lights, heat, overhead costs, and way too many taxes and you see this truck roll-up, take what may or may not be your business and to all appearances pull away without facing the various challenges and charges that you face on that same block. I get it, I honestly do. That’s not fair. In no way do I want our business to hurt other businesses. But we firmly believe that a thriving city should have room for both structures of trade. We actually freeze our asses off in a tin box because no, we don’t pay heat. But we do pay our taxes. We give a healthy portion of our earnings to a city that seemingly doesn’t even want us.
For over one year we sat between emails with city employees, conversations with other truck owners, getting kicked off multiple public streets, a few articles were written. We waited and watched our businesses become out-of-sight, out-of-mind - hoping that there would soon be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll never forget the feeling of hating myself for not being able to make this dream become a more sustainable reality.
Our silver lining was being able to take a deep breath and a step back from the business to have some amazing experiences. Traveling, purchasing a home, playing for a women’s tackle football team, celebrating my now wife, co-owner, biggest supporter and best listener, Bianca. Being with family, celebrating holidays. Just a life without the stressful weight and what-ifs. It was important to take a minute to heal-up.
Now, after taking some time to refocus, the City of Denver has finally handed us a retail truck permit through a ‘pilot program’ that essentially makes doing business in Denver impossible for us and several other traveling shop owners. They want us to re-convert our truck with a side opening and an ADA compliant entrance. They require written permission from the same people who had us kicked out of these areas to come back to these areas and they left us with very limited situations that would coincide with their parking restrictions. Basically they copy and pasted various regulations onto a word doc, slapped their logo on it and proceeded to consign us into oblivion.
At this time and place, I don’t see a sustainable future in Denver. They have proven to us that our business doesn’t matter as much as others and despite the rapid growth the city is undergoing, they are still unable to welcome innovative ideas and legislation that many other cities have already accomplished.
At 26 years old, I often feel so very young and naive on this entire journey. But I never knew how much creating something like this would mean to me. All of the time, thought, money, effort and dedication that has gone into this business could vanish if we don’t find growth somewhere new. Despite some of these crippling circumstances, we are not ready to give up yet.
With your help, word of mouth, sharing our website, links, story and blog. Telling your favorite Aunt Beth about our shop maybe passing an idea along to someone who would want to host us, helping us spread our mission - that is the most positive impact we could ask for.
The hope is that several years from now, two young girls will come along with the idea of opening a mobile boutique and the road will already be paved.
EDIT: This post was written, re-written, re-read and edited over the last several months. We just got around to finally sharing our side of the story because of the significance that processing this whole mess has had on us. The only thing I would add or change here is that this hasn’t been a feud at all. See, the definition of the word feud is: a mutual enmity or quarrel that is often prolonged or inveterate. This has not been mutual and our voices have not yet been heard. We are hoping that changes today with the help of our family and friends.
To learn more, share our story and shop our collection visit www.lovefreemovement.com
Thanks for reading.
Written by Anna Klausmeyer