To celebrate Women’s History Month, Fluid TruckCo-Founder Jen Snyder sat down with a female business owner who utilizes Fluid Truck, Ashley of Frankie Jean. Ashley joined us for a quick talk right in the middle of her time at this year’s SXSW. Keep reading to learn about Ashley's fun business model, what it's like to champion the work of artists, and get some advice from a successful female entrepreneur.
Interview is edited for clarity.
Jen S.: So, tell us a little bit about Frankie Jean.
Ashley: I studied fashion design at Baylor, and actually went there because my mom really loved that school, and she passed away when I was younger. After studying design and really falling in love with it, and knowing I wanted to do something on my own, I kind of had her in mind. She was just your typical Southern mom.
And so my collection kind of started off of typical southern sayings. It was a fun way to just just put a little back into the world. And so, even though it's been over 20 years, it still feels like my mom is right here with me.
J: I found your story to be so touching when I was reading about you. What does your model look like? Is it something that you've actually designed and created yourself? Do you open it up to other artists? How does it work?
A: Yes, so our business model is kind of fun for small business owners. I make almost everything to order. So I don't have to have large inventories on hand, and people get to choose from our expansive design collection that we have and they get to come in, pick the item they want, and we put it together for them.
Any chance we get, we love to work with other local artists and feature their designs on something. When I first started, I was kind of traveling around all over the US just to kind of build the brand. And I would take other artists’ work with me to help them, as well and it was just a fun way to get things started. So I try to keep that incorporated as much as I can.
J: When you look at 2023, what's on your roadmap? What are your big objectives and goals?
A: 2023 has been exciting so far, just tons of growth and hiring new part-time employees and just really trying to scale. It was really hard for me to let go, because I loved knowing for a while that every little piece I saw out in the world, I had a physical hand in. So letting go of that and embracing the fact that more people do want to experience some of our pieces has been a process.
J: How did we get lucky enough to work with you, and why do you choose us?
A: I was kind of looking into alternatives from your typical truck rental place. I used to use Hertz a lot, and they actually stopped renting out the cargo vans. And the cargo van is typically what I use when I go to shows outside the city, so I was kind of scrambling at the time.
I had been let down by some other companies where I would show up to get my truck, they're just like, “Oh, sorry, another customer came in and we don't have anything for you.” And so it was just kind of hard feeling like, “man, I know I'm a small business but come on!” So that’s why working with you has been really great.
There was one time where someone had to keep the van that was supposed to be mine longer than their reservation went, and the Fluid Truck rep went out of his way to make sure and go and find another one for me.
I've just really enjoyed the experience and haven't had any issues with any of the rentals I've done with you guys, so really the security and that and knowing I'll be taken care of is great.
J: As a female entrepreneur, what advice do you have for other people that have this dream of starting something new?
A: Having your own business sounds so glamorous, and it sounds so fun. And it is a whole lot of fun. But definitely you have to go into it with the acknowledgment that most of the time you're wearing about 10, 15, sometimes 20 hats, and so it can be a lot.
What I say to encourage others is to make sure you're surrounding yourself with people who are encouraging, who believe in you. And be willing to kind of gain a tough or skin for the people who don't, and have grace for that. Because a lot of times people discount your abilities. So just really just believe in yourself, and that if it really is what you want to do, just believe that and surround yourself with the people who are gonna encourage that.
J: What's next for you? What's next for you and Frankie Jean?
A: I've just loved the response that I've gotten from so many people about designs and about the aesthetic. And so, ideally in the future would be so nice to have a little Frankie Jean pop up, and some other major city they have better access to kind of get the experience again to go in, pick out the designs and kind of feel like they're designing it themselves.
10-year plan, maybe that would be just having a little Frankie Jean pop up in some other major cities and just more access for them to get to know about us. That's the hope. But right now I do wholesale for a lot of boutiques all over the US. So that's a great stepping sound to get into those other menus right now.
J: You know, that's awesome. And so for anyone that's listening or watching this, how do they get in touch with you? How do they learn more and how do they buy your awesome, awesome items.
A: The platform we use the most is Instagram. That's the best way to see some of the new drops that we put out there and just to chat with us. I'm still the one that will answer your questions on Instagram and we also, and our Instagram is Frankie Jean, it's Frankie Jean and then also online. You can see pretty much everything in the shop.
J: Is there anything that we do at Fluid Truck that sets us apart for our other female customers?
A: Yeah, definitely I think one thing that I've noticed in the many rentals I've done with you guys is our schedules. When you’re a woman in business, you just never know if when you're gonna be able to do it or how long you're gonna need it for.
And so I think the flexibility of pickup drop-off time, it’s just easy. A lot of times your trucks will be at Amazon facilities and stuff, which is actually kind of nice because I can park right next to it. Get the truck, go and do what I needed, and then drop it back off and my car is right there, it's just such an easy and seamless experience.
I don't have to talk to anyone, sometimes when you're doing everything yourself, so nice to just know that I don't have to wait in the line. I can just take care of it.I think that's been really the best thing for because sometimes I'm picking it up at eight or nine at night and,dropping off of that in the next day.
And I also just love the pricing structure, where if I really did just need to go make a delivery, I can rent it for just an hour or two and then the price breaks you do for a full day just been really helpful when we do shows around town where we need to take more things with us.
It’s just been such an easy experience. I haven't run into any issues and so, yeah, I love it. I think that it's just really great that as a woman too. It's just nice. We're good with those apps. We're constantly on them and see all those apps really seamless as well. So it just makes it really easy to work with.
J: Awesome. Well, thank you so much and we wish you the best success, and we're so grateful that you chose Fluid Truck to help you with your business!