Carli Barr, owner of the online boutique Barr Bones, unveiled her mobile boutique for the first time at Friday After 5. The retrofitted bus was a standout Friday, giving her more visibility than her previous pop-up shop.
Barr wanted her first event with the bus to be in her hometown, allowing local supporters in Owensboro to be her first customers to shop on the bus.
“Even though it was a hot one, we still had an incredible crowd and so many of our regulars came out to support,” she said.
When Barr was still in high school, she already knew owning a clothing store was in her future. She headed to Western Kentucky University where she completed a major in fashion and a minor in business administration.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business since I was 15,” Barr said. “I knew that I wanted to do my own thing and people said I needed experience, which is a true statement to a certain extent. However, even though I was young, I went for it.”
After working in Nashville for almost a year as a manager of two boutiques, Barr moved back to Owensboro. She established Barr Bones, an online boutique business with unique styles and affordable prices. Barr launched her boutique clothing site on September 22, 2018. She also started doing pop up shops in November at an event in Evansville.
According to Barr, it was very successful. In fact, she says it is still one of the best events she’s done to this date.
“It’s always been my dream,” Barr said. “I was so excited that it went so well.”
Once she started traveling, Barr realized that there was quite a market at vendor events. Since the first pop up, Barr Bones has visited several nearby cities such as Louisville, Nashville and Bowling Green. She couldn’t experience this success alone. Bringing her mom alongside her on this business adventure was the perfect fit for Barr who says her family is a huge support.
“The boutique is run by just me and my mom,” Barr said. “My mom retired from being a school teacher in May after 18 years and I just knew she’d be my right-hand man.”
Setting up Barr Bones as a pop-up shopping experience has been rewarding for Barr, who loves face-to-face interactions with customers. The only drawback to the traditional pop up is that it takes place in someone else’s space which can make it almost feel like being in their way.
While brainstorming ideas to improve what she provided her customers, her dad offered her some very valuable advice.
“My dad owns several businesses and he helps me a lot,” Barr said. “He does concrete construction so sometimes his ideas may not work for retail, but sometimes he says something and I realize that it’s a really good idea.”
Barr’s dad suggested that she purchase a bus and create a mobile boutique. He has several websites that he follows to buy and sell cars and when he ran across a bus that would work for the mobile boutique, he traveled 12 hours to pick it up for his daughter.
Local companies helped remodel the bus, with Danco retrofitting the interior and Signs by Gina wrapping the outside.
“I cried when I saw the pictures after my dad picked it up,” Barr said.
As far as future goals, Barr plans to attend a big event in Atlanta in November. She’d also love to go to Charleston and Jacksonville for larger shows now that she has the bus.
Barr’s mom has been using social media to find potential vendor shows and events. They are discovering a whole market of people who mainly set up through pop-up events.
“I love this aspect of retail because I love being able to connect with my customers face-to-face without the overhead renting a space or paying employees,” Barr said.
Merchandising and putting outfits together feels like artwork for Barr who said she finds it amazing when people create something in their mind and then put that vision into clothing. She has traveled to Italy to study fashion and yet customer connections remain the driving force for all that Barr Bones stands for.
“I light up when anyone sends me a text message or a DM that says they loved their outfit or felt so good when they wore it,” Barr said. “When I get those positive messages it excites me because I want to instill confidence in others.”
For more information on Barr Bones, visit her online boutique.