Friday, April 10, 2015

Women Entrepreneurs Series: Cyndii Jo Hartley, owner of Henny Penny mobile boutique

I'm starting a new series here on the blog about something I'm very passionate about: women entrepreneurs. I absolutely LOVE chatting with women who are business owners-who have a vision and take the steps to seeing that vision become reality. I think they're some of the most interesting people and I always feel like I come away having learned something from them. So I'm beginning this series with a woman that I met recently in Memphis. Her name is Cyndii Jo Hartley and she owns a beautiful mobile boutique called Henny Penny.

    Before even going to Memphis, I had heard of Henny Penny on the web when I was searching for Memphis art shows so I was thrilled when she entered my booth and we got to talking. It just so happens that I had signed up for two different Memphis shows within three weeks time, so the next trip I decided to search out and interview Cyndii Jo and find out more about her and her business. I hope reading about Cyndii Jo and the other women entrepreneurs in coming months will inspire you to follow your own vision.

Q: Tell me a bit about your background.
CJ: I studied theatre in college and worked in many different parts of theatre production. One of the things I found I loved to do was hair for the theatrical productions. After getting my license, I began designing wigs and doing makeup for opera and theatre. I was a wig and makeup designer for Opera Memphis for several years and now work as a hairdresser in a salon. One of the things I love most is talking with my customers so being in a salon every day feels like a great fit for me.

Q: When and why did you start your business?
CJ: About two years ago, I had a bike accident and broke my shoulder. Since being a hairdresser requires use of both hands, I couldn't work for 6 weeks so I found myself with a lot of time to think. This accident gave me the opportunity to start thinking about what else I could do that wasn't so physical. I had always loved fashion and the idea of owning my own boutique sounded intriguing to me, but I wasn't sure where to start.

Q: What made you want to have a mobile boutique rather than a B and M (brick and mortar) boutique?
CJ: Well, my first goal was actually to have an online shop (which I now have) but at that time the city of Memphis was offering what they called MEMMobile "forgivable loans" to prospective business owners who wanted to own and operate their own mobile business in the Memphis area. After doing tons of research about mobile businesses, I found the American Mobile Retail Association and got really inspired by the growing mobile business movement! I saw all these fantastic trucks and started thinking about how I could start my own mobile fashion truck. After that came the step of filling out the paperwork for the loan. That part was very time-consuming and detailed, but it forced me to write down a business plan and put down on paper exactly what I wanted this to be.

Q: What shows do you do?
CJ: Right now I sell mostly at home parties, fundraising events, farmer's markets, and the indie holiday market. I'll also be invited to park my bus outside friends' businesses in the Broad Avenue part of town for weekend events. My collection is made of clothes that are easy to wear and comfortable yet still look stylish.

Q: Do you sell online also?
CJ: Yes I have an online boutique here:

Q: What are your plans for the future as far as Henny Penny goes?
CJ: I really love hairstyling and don't want to stop that part of my life, however what I'd like to do is combine a hairstyling salon with my clothing store in a brick and mortar location. I believe if the retail portion is a well-curated business, you can add in a second complimentary business.

Q: Have you taken any business classes?
CJ: No, I haven't taken any business classes but have taken social media workshops offered by the city of Memphis. That was part of the whole Mem-Mobile program and they were designed to help us feel comfortable talking to the media about our new businesses.

Q: What's on your bucket list?
CJ: I'd love to spend my 40th birthday in Paris! Also I want to dance the perfect pasodoble.

Q: Do you have a philosophy of life that you live by?
CJ: The thing that always runs through my head is that it's not all about me. I try to focus on other people, on helping them or being there for them. I find when I do that I feel lighter and better overall.

You can also follow Henny Penny here:

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