Stay at home mom. Massive medical bills. And NO savings.
What would you do?
That’s the place Vanessa found herself knowing that she and her husband had no money to protect themselves from a future emergency much less pay off all the debt.
I was introduced to Vanessa’s story over a year ago when I was writing a three-part series for Forbes called Love and Entrepreneurship. I loved doing that series! Vanessa and Cris Bisorca were my first couple.
With medical bills to pay and a closet brimming with clothes, Vanessa turned to Poshmark an online community that allows you to buy and sell clothing and accessories. She got her husband and even her kids involved and turned it into a full-time business. Paying off their debt and some with their Poshmark Boutique Moda Me Couture.
You can read more about that story over on Forbes here Love And Entrepreneurship, Part 1: The Six-Figure Poshmark Couple
Today Vanessa is joining us here at Immensely Social for another installment in our Side Hustle Series.
*Vanessa’s responses are in italics
Thanks for joining us, Vanessa. Your story is so interesting. What did you do to keep the Poshmark Boutique going when you ran out of stuff to sell from your own closet?
When I ran out of my personal clothes to sell I started searching for ways to get inventory and we started traveling to trade shows as a family to handpick inventory as the market is so saturated with fast fashion and one-time use throwaways. We now have our own website and have created a small family-owned e-commerce business from our experience with Poshmark.
My teenagers are now running the business with us. My son manages the website, my daughter packages, lists photographs of new inventory. I model our inventory and my daughter does the makeup for the photoshoots. We’re a hard-working family who believes success is earned not entitled. We’re a God-fearing household and we give Him the glory for our success.
Great! To God be the glory.
You are teaching your kids about entrepreneurship. That’s awesome! My mom ran her own business and I never really thought about doing the same myself until I wanted to move abroad, but I know that the example my mom set early on really fueled the entrepreneurial spirit I have now. Family Business can be a wonderful thing!
Your husband immigrated to the United States as a child. Can you tell us a bit more about that and how you think it plays into how you work your family business?
My husband moved to the United States from Romania when he was 11 years old. At the time the country was under Communist rule with little to no opportunities. You couldn’t just wake up one day and say I’m going to open a business. That was unheard of. It was not allowed. When he came here he appreciated the freedoms and opportunities our great nation offered him and wanted to work hard at creating a legacy.
After graduating high school he worked full-time while going to school to get his Engineering degree. He worked hard to be able to provide our children with a better life than what he had growing up. He is self-motivated and a leader. Everything is possible if you believe in yourself and you put in the work.
So inspiring. You have already mentioned some roles that your teenagers participate in with the business. Do you have any tips for other parents that want to ignite that entrepreneurial spirit in their kids and help them understand and succeed in business?
It’s A Family Business
We are firm believers in leading by example. We don’t just tell our children what to do, they are part owners and not just playing the employee role. We teach them to take ownership of each task and do it to the best of their ability. We show them and ask them to participate along with us. Good strong work ethic is extremely important to us and it is a learned behavior that will benefit them in every aspect of their life whether they own a business or not. Through this process, we have taught our children about customer service, marketing, sourcing, purchasing and keeping track of inventory, bargaining, shipping, and packaging.
The children both earn a paycheck and they love going to the bank to deposit their paycheck in their personal bank accounts. My son is very excited and it puts a smile on his face every time he makes a deposit because he sees his balance increase and he is getting closer and closer to his goal of saving enough money to put a down payment on his first investment property as he loves real estate. He is now 16 years old and was 14 when he started saving.
We decided to pay them with actual checks vs direct deposit because we believe that the electronic transfer of money takes away from the feeling of self-worth and the value of the dollar. They can see the fruit of their labor in hand vs just a line on a bank statement. The best tip I can give parents is to teach their kids that money doesn’t grow on trees. It’s not enough to just teach your children the basics in life but to challenge them and instill in them a sense of self-worth and ownership.
Give a man a fish and he will not go hungry for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will not go hungry for a lifetime. It’s the same with our kids, we are not going to always be their shelter or protectors and if we hand over everything freely it builds a sense of entitlement. We are not entitled to anything we don’t work for and the earlier in life you teach these lessons, leading by example, the greater the appreciation and gratitude they will have for what they receive whether it’s a small gift or an opportunity they come across later in life.
How do you and your husband keep your family unit strong and balance life and business? Do you set strict boundaries or do things just kind of mesh together?
Our business and family life mesh together seamlessly. We are a very tight family unit. We don’t separate one from the other because our business is actually something we all love and enjoy doing. It is not your typical job, it’s more of an opportunity and a blessing that has allowed us to spend more time together than normal and also earn an income.
Because 95% of the business is done online and our mobile devices, we can go camping or enjoy God’s creation by going on walks, hiking, or going to the beach for the day and we are always within a few keystrokes reach of our customers. We also travel together to fashion shows, business meetings and to meet with suppliers and handpick merchandise.
Everyone is involved and we all play a big role individually in the overall success of the business. We always keep an open line of communication and check-in with one another daily on a business and personal level. As we all know, in business it’s not always sunshine and roses. On good days we celebrate together and on bad days we lift each other up and comfort one another. Each one of us has their own strong suits which seem to always come in handy. When one may see the glass half empty the other sees it half full and this has helped us to get through the growing pains of starting a business.
Will you tell us a bit about Moda Me Couture® and your website?
When I was young my mom and I always dreamed of owning a store as we have always loved fashion. Now having an online store has brought that dream to reality. Moda Me Couture® specializes in trendy, fun, fabulous and unique clothing for women. We aim to be a one-stop-shop and can style any woman for any occasion, from a casual soccer mom look going to her child’s game to a more glam look when going on a date night with the hubby. I personally have many styles and love wearing unique pieces that you don’t normally find at your local department store.
This venture has given me the opportunity to bring beautiful and unique pieces to our fabulous clients at an affordable price. I’m not just your typical business owner. I am a personal stylist as well and this service comes at no extra charge. I have woken up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and I noticed a message from a client desperate for style ideas for an event she was going to later in the week.
I ended up spending some time communicating back and forth finding out the client’s sense of style and began to style her for the event. Being a first-time buyer in our store, the client was very happy and grateful I responded to the style request in the middle of the night. I gained a valuable client and friend that night. After she placed the order, I went back to sleep knowing I had made someone’s day and I felt fulfilled and grateful for the opportunity to make someone look and feel beautiful. That is what Moda Me Couture® is all about
We go out of our way to help someone in need. Do unto others what you want to be done unto you is our motto. When I source for inventory I purchase with my buyers in mind and when I say buyer, I mean Angela, Debbie, Christine, Kristen, etc. These are long-time customers that I have built a heartfelt lifetime bond with. When they are going through hard times I pray with them check in with them and help them get through whatever the season in life they are going through.
We also keep in touch on Instagram @modamecouture or @shop.modamecouture and talk almost daily. When someone makes a purchase from Moda Me COUTURE® you become a part of the Moda Me Couture® family. Working in the service industry for most of my adult life has taught me that to have a successful business you must make Customer Service your number 1 priority.
Now that you have your own website, what are your goals and how do you plan to grow your family business?
We would like to build this venture to the point where we can hire staff to take over the packaging and listing of inventory so I can focus on building the business, customer service, modeling our inventory and also the most time-consuming part, sourcing for new inventory.
What do you wish you had known when you started growing your business that no one told you? What are your best tips?
I initially started selling my personal clothing because we needed some extra cash for emergencies and was not looking to start a business. It kind of just happened. Before this, I did not know anything about what it entails to start a business, but I knew I wanted to own one. I have always followed fashion trends closely and I had worked in the service industry for a while prior to being a stay at home mom, so everything about starting a fashion business was new and it was basically trial and error. Starting an eCommerce business is easy and doesn’t require a lot of capital but it requires a lot of time and sweat equity.
You just can’t give up when someone says no or doors are closed, you need to believe in yourself and stay positive. I remember getting in the car and driving 18 hours to find new sources for inventory not knowing if I was going to succeed or fail. But if I would have stayed home, I would have missed out on one of the biggest opportunities and lessons I’ve learned in my business.
As an entrepreneur, you have to step out of your comfort zone and sometimes do crazy things like driving 18 hours. You never know what you are going to learn, people who are passionate about what they do love to talk to anyone who is willing to listen. I can say that everyone I have talked to or met along my journey, has bettered my business and taught me lessons I didn’t have to learn on my own.
What has been the biggest pay-off for you and your family in this business venture?
The best payoff for us starting this business venture has been the ability to teach our children that they can do anything they put their mind to and can accomplish great things with hard work. This Great Nation we live in has given us opportunities most of the world could only dream of and we should not squander the blessings some have fought for with their lives. This nation was built on the backs of entrepreneurs who didn’t expect a handout but worked hard to provide for their families and for the betterment of others. We are truly blessed and Thank God for His mercy and provision in times of need.
“And my God shall provide every need of yours according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:19.
Thank you for chatting with us Vanessa and sharing what you and your family are doing in life and family business. Stay tuned for more in our That Side Hustle Series and let me know in the comments what you found most inspirational about this story.