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Rising Stars: Meet Caroline Dengel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caroline Dengel. 

Hi Caroline, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I moved back to Cleveland in 2011 after living in New York City for college. As I was moving back home, I was purging my closet while I looked for a job. I had the idea to sell some of my higher-end items online which lead to me becoming a top seller for a company that was eventually bought out by Poshmark. My online store became so successful that I felt the next move was to open a storefront, but after researching that idea, I knew it wasn’t a good fit for me because I didn’t want to commit to one neighborhood. Once I had the idea to go mobile (original idea was like a food truck but for clothes) I threw myself into the process of finding the right truck, filing for my business license, and applying to any event that would have me! By Spring 2014, I was on the road with a collection of second-hand and boutique/wholesale clothing. It became a bit overwhelming to source second-hand, so by 2015, I was selling wholesale clothing I got in LA. By 2018, I was really bored with the monotony of boutique clothes and I knew it was time to get back to my initial business plan of selling second-hand and designer. During this time, I educated myself on the negative impacts of fast fashion on the environment and how buying secondhand can save thousands of pounds of clothing from ending up in landfills every year. The rest is history! 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Definitely not a smooth road. Because fashion trucks were essentially unheard of in our area, getting permits was almost impossible for the first few years. Even applying to be a vendor at events could be difficult because many people didn’t understand my concept. Luckily it got easier with time and exposure! 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I give gently worn women’s clothing and accessories new life by finding them new homes! I work with a handful of women each season, consigning their unwanted items. I also spend time in thrift stores finding discarded gems. I clean each item up, often fixing flaws and even upcycling it into something new. I like to think I have something for everyone inside the truck. I carry sizes XS-XXL (up to size 22) in everything from dresses to activewear. 

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Like many other business owners, COVID had a huge impact on my business and really helped me evaluate how I was doing business. I moved 100% of my business online (finally put time and effort into my online store) and I decided to scale back on public events in 2021 and this year. The first 5-6 years of business, I had the truck parked and open 4-6 times a week. I was exhausted and definitely burnt out. It was good to take a step back and adjust. 

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Image Credits

Kailey Sedmack

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