July 31, 2023
Bloom Consignments ensures that all individuals are able to find high-quality second hand clothing that is the right fit for them.
Describe your business in one sentence.
Bloom is a secondhand consignment clothing store for all genders in adult sizes XXS to 5X+
What unique perspective/skills do you bring to your business?
I grew up wearing thrifted and hand-me-down clothing, with a mother who made and mended my clothes to extend their life. As soon as I was old enough, I started consigning my own clothes and become very familiar with the process of resale and consignment. I bring an understanding of quality fabrics and garment construction and how that effects the resale value and longevity of the clothing sold in my shop. I cherish the story of the clothing’s past and champion the future of its use, from one owner to the next.
Having lived in Maine my entire life, and now residing in same city that I opened my business, community is essential to my ethos. I have cultivated deep roots in my community and continue to grow the connections through trust, kindness and compassion. Giving back was built into the foundation of the business and through my Consignment for a Cause program Bloom raises funds for local non-profit organizations within the community.
I am committed to celebrating all body types and making secondhand clothing available that make people feel good. Offering plus size clothing has been an important factor in creating an inclusive secondhand clothing shop. I also staunchly believe clothing is genderless (anybody should be able to wear anything they want!) and have established my business as a safe space for folks who identity as LGBTQ+ or non-binary to shop and explore their styles with support and free of judgement. I have made myself and my shop available by private appointment to folks who may not [yet] be comfortable publicly shopping for clothes that best fit the gender they identify as.
My resume, before opening my shop, is quite diverse, though primarily focused in sustainability, sales and design. I’ve worked with folks in very low-income brackets and others in the very highest. I’ve worked with people from all over the United States, newly immigrated and refugee communities and folks that have never left the state of Maine. These experiences have helped me curate a space and atmosphere that any individual can walk in to and feel valued.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in starting your business? In running it?
I found that wrangling my big picture ideas into a concise and coherent plan was one of the hardest elements in starting my business. It took mentorships, business classes, research and endless drafting to create a business plan and financial projections that would not only give me a path to follow while establishing my business, but to also demonstrate to a financial institution that my business was worth taking a calculated risk on. Though it was one of my hardest challenges getting started, it was the most beneficial and necessary elements to creating a solid foundation for my business.
6 months after my business held its grand opening, the pandemic hit, and the state shut down. My business went from being one of the only retail locations in the city I operate, to jumping into online sales where it was very much a very small fish in a very large pond. As a one-woman operation, there was a clear limit to what I was able to achieve each day while adding the additional roles of grant writer, delivery driver/shipping manager, online photographer, content writer and more.
Did CEI help you overcome any of these challenges? Describe how you have worked with our team.
CEI was instrumental in providing the financial assistance for my business start-up. I was able secure my brick and mortar location and commit to a lease before another business swooped in because of the Wicked Fast Loan program.
During Covid, our loan officer was incredibly helpful to work with, taking the time to send information on grants and to let us know that the SBA would be taking care of 6 months of our loan payment. This was immensely helpful during a time of duress and when information was not always straight forward regarding small business financial aid.
What are your hopes for your business in the next 1–3 years?
Bloom was just shy of six months old when the covid-19 pandemic turned everything upside down and inside out. While we were supported by our community, it took the wind out of our sails (and sales!) and we are still building ourselves back up. I hope to be steadily growing and considering taking on our first employees and redesigning our space.
What steps are you taking to reduce your business’s carbon footprint and/or make your business environmentally sustainable? What might make it easier to improve your business’s environmental sustainability or climate resilience?
Bloom was opened as a sustainable way to shop for clothing. Almost all the racks, hangers and fixtures were bought used and our desk is made out of repurposed wood. Keeping our carbon footprint down and helping our customers excited about reducing theirs is inherent to our business. Additionally, I try to find ways to upcycle and repurpose clothing items that might not otherwise be sellable.
In your opinion, what makes a job a good job? How are you providing good jobs for yourself and your employees?
A good job is somewhere that you feel safe and valued and are compensated generously. Though I have yet to hire employees, I want them to always feel like a valued member of a team with clear guidelines and standards for the job at hand.
If you identify with a specific group—veterans, rural residents, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrants, Black entrepreneurs, etc.—do you have any words of wisdom for others from that group starting or running a business?
I identify as a queer, neurodivergent woman and my words of wisdom would include, you can never have too many mentors! As someone who started her business with love from the foundation up, it took me a long time to accept that if there is a part of your business that doesn’t excite you, or confuses you or just takes you too much time, find or hire someone to help you, they can often do it a lot faster and painlessly than you can!
Learn more about Bloom Consignment:
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