When Opportunity Knocks: Fashionista realizes dream after job loss
Making a career move from electrical engineering and information technology to become the owner of a fashion boutique is not for the faint of heart. When Danielle Nelson started Fashionista Exchange a year ago, she knew it would take hard work, determination and a lot of style.
“I grew up around people who worked really hard and worked long hours,” Nelson says. “Those are the people I look up to. I know you have to work really hard for what you want.”
When she was a teenager, she made her own clothes and enjoyed shopping at thrift stores. Nelson says her love of fashion remained even after she graduated from Devry University with a degree in information technology and went on to get her electrical engineering degree from the University of Phoenix.
When she was faced with losing her job, Nelson realized she had the opportunity to pursue her dream of being part of the local fashion scene. Starting a business proved to be difficult for Nelson, a single mother. She knew she needed to save every cent she had.
“I always kept in mind that I had to save money because I knew what I wanted to do,” Nelson says. “I didn’t go out as much as I wanted, and I had to be responsible with my money.”
Although she loves her new role as owner of a trendy resale boutique, her son, Kellan, will always be her first priority. “It’s been hard, trying to balance the time,” she says. “The business takes an extraordinary amount of time. It’s been an adjustment.”
Fashionista Exchange is closed Sundays and Mondays so Nelson can spend quality time with Kellan.
The colorful and chic boutique buys gently worn, quality, stylish items — from dresses and skirts to jeans and purses — every day and sells them at an affordable price. When she was starting the business, Nelson advertised for buying events and, after three weekends, she had more items than she ever expected.
“I love coming here every day,” Nelson says. “We always try to keep it looking new and exciting. It sets us apart when we give people a personalized experience. When someone comes in and they need something, we work hard to find it.”
Her goal is to have a one-stop shop for her costumers. “I love thrift store shopping,” Nelson says. “I wanted to take the thrill of the finding the treasure and have one-of-a- kind things all in one place so you don’t have to search through endless racks of things just to find maybe one thing you like.”
Nelson’s favorite stores include Anthropologie and locally owned Stuff in Brookside. She also carries accessories from local designers.
“We sell Silvia Hall crystal-wrapped necklaces and Remnant by RJ just to name a few,” Nelson says. “I’m really inspired by local designers and artists. It’s inspiring to see what people design and come up with.”
Her advice to anyone struggling to establish a career is to keep looking for opportunities. “Even if you don’t know what you want to do, try to position yourself for an opportunity,” Nelson says
The Kansas Small Business Development Center proved to be a great resource for her while she was in the planning stages of Fashionista Exchange.
“It takes a lot of determination,” Nelson says. “I’m not an excuses kind of person. If there was a time I didn’t know what I was doing, I would try to figure it out.”
Fashionista Exchange, 8777 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kan., buys, sells and trades brand-name and designer women’s clothing. For information, visit fashionistakc.com
Photo by Brooke Vandever