July 10, 2019
Woods + Waters Gear Exchange
Q&A with Jenna Vanni, business owner
Learn about how owner Jenna Vanni launched her outdoor apparel and gear consignment store located in downtown Brunswick.
What made you want to start Woods + Waters?
Attending a university in Vermont and being my first time alone to fend for myself in the woods, on the water, or in the snow, I turned to a local outdoor consignment business for my needs. It was life changing in keeping me well-equipped for my activities, and not breaking the bank! Later on, more than ten years later, my hand was in making outdoor products and I quickly learned that it wasn’t very earth friendly. There was so much waste and a lot of pressure on the human life to physically make these products. From this experience, W + W was born and has been a dream come true ever since!
How did you go from having an idea to launching your business?
It literally was 10 years in the making: bouncing ideas off people, seeing the outdoor industry move to more environmentally friendly options, and also knowing that second hand businesses were thriving, pushed me to just do it.
How does CEI fit into your story?
CEI had always been a “silent partner”. From the early days, it was speaking with some people that were affiliated with the Women’s Business Center, for marketing support and then more recently, working with CEI’s lending department for a small loan. They have been an incredible resource since, offering free marketing online courses, events, and just personal support.
As an entrepreneur, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced in starting a business?
Work-life balance: I am the sole employee and operator, and a mom of two little ones. I know it will ease when I hire someone else, but for now, this small business is my newborn baby.
Wearing ALL the hats: I quickly noticed where my strengths lie and where I need a lot of work. Marketing is not my strong suit, but again, having a partner in CEI has helped spread the word and has been a great support.
Dreaming of new ventures is a challenge. I meet amazing people EVERYDAY who share what they do in Maine. I am in awe and always inspired to learn and do more, and that has me thinking of new things when I just need to focus.