Interview with a Maker - Heidi LeHew of ReKindled and Co.
If you frequent the Madison Market scene Heidi and her Winnebago Brave will need no introduction. Heidi has an infectious personality and spunk you can't help but be drawn in to. We think her perspective on the entrepreneur world is one that can help motivate us all!
What do you make/ what is your business all about?
ReKindled & Co is a mobile retail company that brings the “store” to markets and events throughout the Midwest in my girl Winnie - a renovated 1972 Winnebago Brave. When shopping in the truck you can always expect vintage, farmhouse and industrial style home decor. I love to create a nostalgic and cozy feel with my events so they include the bigs, smalls and all the in between stuff as well. Heidi (that’s me, boss lady) paints, builds, fixes and cleans all of the things to make sure they are ready to go from the truck to your home! Additionally I curate amazing goods from other small businesses to add a wide variety of shopping options - candles, jewelry, hats & clothing, coffee mugs, greeting cards and more - all on the truck!
How did you get started?
On a whim, and with the blessing of my hubby, I left my corporate job in 2012. We were growing our family & we wanted me to be home for that. But my creative aide just couldn’t sit still. So I began making small pieces which grew into a bit larger pieces, I taught myself how to refinish and paint furniture; then came the picking and before I knew it I was moving a lot of pieces. It was then I knew how much i enjoyed matching the right customer with the perfect piece and I really dove in head first around 2015.
What's your biggest SUCCESS this far?
Hands down, the Winnebago. For years I worked on a plan and it wasn’t until I found a vintage toy truck for my kids that I put in that final puzzle piece. It hit me hard as I watched them play with that truck and i still remember that ah-ha moment!! I found another one, crafted a plan and followed my dream. It’s been 2 years on the road now and I couldn’t be more proud of that accomplishment!!
What's your biggest failure?
Oh man. Which one? It seems you have to fail many, many times before you succeed. I’ve had some total shit- shows but I think my biggest failure is more internal. For the longest time I compared myself and my business to everyone else around me. It was literally smothering. It consumed me. And I’m not gonna lie, there are times I still get caught in that trap. BUT, since really mapping out my own path and finding a true passion for my mobile shop, I find myself less and less concerned with anything but MY path. 2018’s motto was “stay in your lane”. It was a good reminder all year long!!
What do you love the most about making/your business?
The Winnebago is so nostalgic. I love how other people love her as much as I do! It’s like there is magic in the walls because people suddenly open up when they come inside! They are kinder, gentler, they laugh, cry and celebrate with her!! Truly, it’s amazing!! I love so much that the pieces I curate mirror that same feeling - they evoke emotions and I think people can see them in their homes/lives. I love reflecting on these last couple of years and seeing how the entire plan has unfolded so far :) (I’m seriously gushing over here talking about it!)
What is your business super strength?
Oh gosh. No super strengths here. If anything, I feel like I have mastered the art of service. It is my absolute pleasure to help people. Finding the perfect piece, helping them put together a look for a room in their home or simply expressing my genuine gratitude for their business. I am a people pleaser, sometimes to a fault, but I can’t help it! I hope my super power is that!!
What advice do you have to those makers/ entrepreneurs afraid to take the next step?
Don’t be. Don’t ever be afraid, it will hold you back from everything you could ever accomplish. Be brave!! I specifically picked the Winnebago I did because it’s a Brave. A Winnebago Brave. Why? Because it scared the shit out of me! Building a business is scary and I wanted a constant reminder that In all ways and always...be brave. I would also recommend to surround yourself with only the best, most supportive and positive people you can!! Learn from them and take advantage of opportunities. There is a big world of makers out there! Find a way to be different! Xo and if I can ever be of help to any makers reading this, please please look me up! I would be honored to help!
What is your spirit animal and why?
I don’t even know what a spirit animal is! Lol. if I could be any animal though, I would pick a squirrel. I mean, seriously!! Have you ever seen those guys play in the yard? They are happy little critters! They bounce around, eating, playing and being cute all day! To me, that sounds amazing!!! So long as you stay out of the road I guess huh?