Success Story: Allison Bross-White, Owner of b. (a resale shop)

MyTalk 107.1 Entrepreneur of the Month for April

Like many young women, Allison Bross-White was interested in fashion and music as a teen. But there was something that set her apart from her peers. She excelled in her classes and was always a step ahead. In high school, while others were contemplating their future careers, Allison was busy crafting a business plan. She was already certain her path to success was small business ownership and she envisioned making a living by combining the things she was most passionate about—social responsibility, clothing and hip hop.

Allison went on to pursue degrees in fashion design, merchandise marketing and business administration management. All the while, she was honing her entrepreneurial strategy. Her plan evolved from developing a space where Twin Cities independent musicians could perform, to creating a secondhand clothing store dedicated to the local hip hop community.

Her studies prepared her well for the future, but Allison first had to manage her college debt. She took a corporate job and spent the next four years getting her finances in order. In 2010, Allison came to WomenVenture for assistance with business licensing and regulations, and to apply for a loan. She worked with a business consultant who coached her through the process. Just a few months later, while still working her full time job, Allison launched her South Minneapolis business—b. (a resale shop).

b. (a resale shop) features a large selection of gently used designer clothing, street gear and locally-sourced products, with a focus on urban trends. Allison is dedicated to a green lifestyle and aims to keep wearable garments out of landfills. Her store offers lower price points than most used clothing stores, making it a place where fashion is affordable to all. As Allison sees it, "Everyone deserves to own a Gucci suit."

After b. (a resale shop) celebrated its second anniversary, Allison was able to pay herself a livable wage, and she left her full time job. She re-evaluated the space needs of the shop, and worked with her business consultant to map out a plan for growth. A year later, Allison secured a second loan from WomenVenture and moved the store to its current location at 2613 Nicollet Avenue. With twice the square footage, she was able to expand the men’s section and she now hosts special events on site. "WomenVenture has been a great resource for the business coaching and funding that I have needed," Allison said. "It has been a big part of my success."

Allison has no regrets about leaving the corporate world to pursue her lifelong dream. She says the best thing about being self-employed is creating the work environment she has always wanted. "I love going to the shop every day," Allison says. "And I miss it when I am away." She admits that being the owner/operator of a retail venture is hard work, but says small business ownership has also given her something she didn't realize was so important until recently—the flexibility to focus on growth in ways that she hadn't considered.

Recently, Allison and her husband welcomed a baby boy to their family. Allison hopes he will grow up in the store and has already made accommodations for him there. The smallest member of Minneapolis' eco-fashion community can be found in a bouncy chair near the counter, bopping to the music. It is quite possibly the best seat available to watch his amazing entrepreneur mom in action.