Keeping It within the Community

Starting a Business Costs a Fortune

Starting a new business takes practically a fortune to get it off the ground, especially starting a brick and mortar store.  Luckily I was able to use a number of small, local businesses which allowed me to put a large portion of that fortune back into our community.  Giving back to the community we live and work in has been a passion of mine since I moved to Seminole Heights 10 years ago.  When you spend your dollars at a small business, about 70% stays in the local community.  This means that the money you spend helps to keep people employed within our community.  We were lucky enough to have opportunities to spend with small, local companies in our start up phase and we will continue to do so as we continue operations.

For every dollar you spend at a small business, about 70% stays in the local community.

Worries of a Startup

I knew that I was planning on starting a business that no one had ever started before.  Which sounds great, but in reality, as the founder, I was constantly worried that this just wouldn't work.  Thoughts like "if no one else has thought of this,  it must be a bad idea" played on a continuous loop in my brain.  Luckily, the folks at USF's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) assigned me a business adviser that read my business plan and gave me the confidence to get the ball rolling. 

Help Along the Way

Blind Tiger in Ybor provided me with a much needed space for working on my business plan and just general planning.  I spent many long days and nights (and weekends too) working away in their co-work space.  As an added bonus, I made some great connections and friends. 

Just across the street from Blind Tiger is Corral and Gallagher Attorneys at Law P.A. who helped me with an invaluable referral for carpentry work; Hard Tack.  - I know, strange that I got a carpentry referral from lawyers but what can I say, they know their local businesses!

The space wouldn’t be what it is today without all the hard work and long hours Nick Lorden at Hard Tack put into making Valhalla an interesting, fun, and functional space.  Hard Tack had full creative control; I have to say, the pieces Nick finished would not have looked half as great if I had any of the creative control.  Hard Tack designed, built, and installed the massive front counter, wall of plants, front window display, and the laundry sorting rack in the laundry room.  Nick even had the brilliant idea of designing the counter specifically to my height so I would be comfortable working long hours, knowing that I suffer from neck and back pain.

 Hard Tack's Counter & Plant Wall

Hard Tack's Counter & Plant Wall

Rustic Steel found and installed the reclaimed barn door and fabricated the steel frames of the dressing rooms which gives the store a very unique look and I think it adds a bit of fun to the dressing room experience.  I was a little afraid to approach Rustic Steel about the project because their work is always so artistic and different but they were happy to help.  The chairs in the dressing room came to us from D&D Antiques.  I absolutely love the gold velvet color. 

 Rustic Steel's Barn Door & Dressing Room Frame

Rustic Steel's Barn Door & Dressing Room Frame

Powerhouse Electric of Tampa Bay did the electrical work in the store - I know not glamorous but important just the same.  They were very helpful with suggesting placement of the lighting and completed the work exactly on time (even though they had a lot of work to do).

Corwin Design did all of Valhalla's print work: business cards and flyers.  I came from an office work environment where I was not so affectionately called the "paperless queen."  I have to admit, in the beginning I poo pooed the idea of using paper for really anything but I've realized that people expect to be able to hold on to the idea of your business and share it with others.  I used the flyers and business cards to spread the word about the opening of the store at Fringe Creatives' neighborhood markets and we're going to be using Fringe Creatives' artists to help fill our store with art you can purchase from locals.  The artists will rotate so you'll see new artists' work on a regular basis.

At Valhalla we are committed to health of our environment, after all, the idea of a collective closet was to help stop waste, so we have made a decision not to provide plastic, disposable bags to customers.  Instead, we offer cotton reusable bags which were purchased from Warhole Designs.  They also did a great job on the window decals displaying our logo.  

No Personal Time - Even for Little Things

Getting the build out done in only a month and a half was challenging.  It meant that I was painting, tagging, inventorying, and doing laundry pretty much 24/7 which left very little time to do anything for myself - namely feeding myself.  Luckily for me, the folks at Sulfur Springs Sandwich Shop and the lovely ladies at Above the Salt kept me feed.  

More people to thank

There are many many more businesses and people that supported us and helped Valhalla become what it has today.  From words of encouragement, recommendations, sharing social media, to telling friends the old fashion way.  Thank you to you all! <3