Fair trade on-the-go… the Tin Lizzy Mobile Boutique!

Today I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Laura and her amazing, unique fashion truck!  Laura and I met a few months ago and immediately clicked over our love all of things fair trade!
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She’s cute and spunky and has an incredible passion for bringing handmade and ethically sourced clothing and accessories to wherever YOU are!  Laura is the owner of a fashion truck named Tin Lizzy, and if you live in the mid-Atlantic, you just might see her at a food & wine festival, farmers market, or even on the side of the road on your way home from work!
I recently stopped by to visit her in Annapolis (she’s currently camped out at The Red Dresser in Edgewater on Thursdays 11a-5p, and 1405 Forest Drive on Fridays 4p-7p) and found this bought this really cute Mata Traders maxi dress!  Y’all it has POCKETS.  Enough said.
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When I posted about my shopping trip on instagram and facebook, people seemed excited to learn about Laura’s fashion truck!  So I asked her to tell us a little more about Tin Lizzy!
Tell us all about your mobile boutique! What do you sell, where do you sell?
Tin Lizzy is a 1997 Grumman Step Van given a new life as a traveling shop specializing in fair trade and sustainably sourced women’s apparel, accessories, and gifts. The truck was previously used for a board of education and was basically a blank slate. My boyfriend and I renovated the truck to look just like a little shop- it’s framed with walls, has hardwood floors, shelving, and a collapsible dressing room. Tin Lizzy travels the Mid-Atlantic region setting up shop at festivals, vineyards, street fairs and markets, operating street-side as permitting allows, as a fundraising tool, and offers a home party service.
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How did you get the idea to do a fashion truck?
Well I originally wrote a business plan for a fair trade, sustainably sourced brick-and-mortar boutique however the start-up costs made the plan more of a dream. A friend of mine saw a school bus in Cape Cod that was converted into a shop and I thought that was such a clever idea and solved so many problems I had with my own business plan. I met with Stacey Steffe who opened the first “fashion truck” in the US and she helped me rewrite my business plan for a truck and totally sold me on the concept of mobile retailing.
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Why fair trade and handmade?
To me, the most important aspect of fair trade and handmade items is the transparency. You know exactly who made the product, who you are supporting, what materials your goods are made of, where the materials came from,  and how they got to you.
It is so important to me to be an informed consumer and to make a statement with the dollars I spend- whether it’s supporting a talented artisan, women working in a workshop, or safe working conditions in a factory.
When/where did you first learn learn about fair trade?
I went to the University of Delaware for Fashion Merchandising and first learned about fair trade in a course I took in college about sustainability in the fashion industry. Learning about the corruption and seeing the ugly side of conventional trade and then being expected to go work in that industry upon graduation made me a bit unsure of my post-graduation goals. The most important piece of information that I took from that class was that as consumers, it is our responsibility to know where our products come from. I started volunteering and working for various fair trade retailers, wholesalers, and non-profits which is where I really learned about the world of fair trade and the change that can be made when we choose to use our purchasing power to support marginalized people.
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What items other than fair trade do you sell?
I like to use the phrase “thoughtful shopping” to describe what Tin Lizzy sells. The items I sell that aren’t technically considered “fair trade”,  I have made sure are sustainably sourced. I purchase handmade items that tell a story and support impoverished, marginalized people. I also have a few made in the USA items like organic lip balms with fair trade ingredients that are made in Montana and bracelets from The Shine Project which employes underprivileged youth and gives them college scholarships. I have begun to bring in some locally made products as well like little girl dresses hand sewn with vintage fabric in Baltimore and gorgeous beaded headbands made by a friend of mine who recycles old jewelry into new pieces. I plan to bring more locally made products into my truck for the holidays as well. I want to be a reputable source for unique, handmade items that are sustainably sourced.
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What’s your latest favorite company/artisan group?
I love finding new fair traders and new groups to support. Mata Traders consistently nails it every season with their jewelry and clothing- they do a great job with the fit. I also love The Root Collective, Symbology’s block prints, Matr Boomie and Altiplano for awesome accessories, and I am obsessed with Good Paper’s line of greeting cards. They sell so well in my shop and they can honestly brighten your day.
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Why should people stop and visit your boutique?
For someone looking to support small, local businesses. you can’t get much smaller than Tin Lizzy! Even if you have no interest in fair trade, you will find unique, one-of-a-kind items you won’t find at the mall. I also make a conscious effort to have price points for all shoppers. A myth about fair trade is that it’s more expensive which isn’t always true. I think we are accustomed to paying too little for our goods but fair trade cuts out the middle-men which means more money stays with the artisans and producers. I place orders weekly so I try to keep the inventory fresh and exciting. Everything is handmade, everything has a story, and I love sharing the stories of artisans with my customers.
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Thanks Laura!!  If you see Tin Lizzy around town, stop in and say hi!  Trust me, you’ll want to check out all of her awesome finds!  And if you live elsewhere, don’t worry, you can find her shop online!
In Style & Love,

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