September 04, 2018 5 Comments

Fashion Truck Cincinnati Ohio | FENNOfashion | Megan Fenno

It was shortly after I had my 4th surgery in 11 months in 2015. It was mid-June and I had just barely survived an emergency operation in Belize, where I was told after being cut open that I was lucky I made it to the hospital when I did. "You only had about 20 minutes to spare before things wouldn't have worked out the way they did," the doctor said. "You are VERY lucky." 

After Ovarian Torsion Surgery in Belize

Little did I know that when I returned home I would have to have another emergency surgery here in Cincinnati 17 days later. John at the time was in China for a business trip and I was home on medical leave. Of course I had the support I needed from family and friends, but for several days after the surgery when Myles was in daycare and I was home alone for the day resting, I had a lot of time to think. 

I started questioning if I was living my best life.

Was I really doing what I was set out to do? Was I being the best mom I could be? The best wife? The best daughter, friend, co-worker and even mentor? Was I in the right career? Shouldn't I be following my true passion?

All of these things in life that I took for granted I started to question. I found out later, actually not too long ago, that what I was going through what is called morbid motivation. It happens to people who've experienced a near-death situation.

From that moment while lying in an immense about of pain in bed on a rainy weekday afternoon, I knew things in my life needed to change. I was working in news at the time while trying to squeeze in a few hours here or there to work on this business. And I'm telling you, those several hours when working on or in my business were true bliss. I never felt happier. 

Cleary running FENNOfashion is my calling and I whole-heartedly believe this is what I was meant to do in life. After all, I had already decided this once already when I attended and graduated from Savannah College of Art & Design for Fashion & Accessory Design.

But I doubted myself. Looking at the brighter side of things, it just took a few tragic incidents to make me realize I needed to follow my dreams. 

Because I could literally write a book from that point in my life until now, I'll spare you all the details and jump right to the spring of this year, when the idea of a mobile boutique first crossed my mind.

As a very creative person, sometimes the business side of things can be challenging for me. To help bridge the gap and continue to run a seamless business, I read a LOT of books on business.

One book, in particular, was about owning a boutique -- a mobile boutique. Because I was seeking general advice, I figured I could skip over the parts about permits, generators, licenses and all of the business that went along with owning a mobile boutique.

But when I started skimming these chapters, I couldn't put the book down. I was fascinated with this concept. I pictured myself running a mobile boutique and all of the opportunities it would open up for me. 

I dwelled on the idea for months. Actually, I became obsessed. I even wrote out a 30-page business plan just to make sure I thought through all of the pros and cons of going mobile. That's when my idea went from just that, an idea to saying, "This is going to happen!"

Business Plan for Fashion Truck Business

In my business plan, I imagined starting to look for trucks around the beginning of August to get a baseline price and idea of what's available. So when August rolled around, I started to do some research so I'd be ready to buy in January to have the boutique up and running by Spring 2019. 

To my surprise, the more I looked, the more discouraged I became. All of the trucks I liked were way out of the budget, across the country or sold before I could even get an email sent asking for more information. 

Then I called a local trucking company in hopes for some answers, encouragement and even the possibility of finding a truck here in greater Cincinnati. Details aside, I'll tell you that I hung up the phone in tears. I started to think my idea was going to be just that, an idea and nothing more.

I allowed myself to throw a pity-party for the day, but knew I needed to continue my search. When I sat down in my office the next morning, I spilled my coffee. I mean not just a little spill, but it went EVERYWHERE -- a full cup all over the keyboard, my paperwork, my jewelry-making tools, everything. I threw my planner off of my desk before the puddle of coffee could seep into the pages. 

After wiping up the coffee spill and picking my planner off of my floor, I couldn't help but notice my planner was turned to a page that read "Let life surprise you".

Nothing more, just that. It was the cover of the September 2018 calendar. Here's a photo of me holding it and yes, I later ripped it out of my planner to frame! 

 I thought about this quote for a while as I brewed another pot of coffee. Nothing urgent was due that day, so I rearranged my schedule to spend a few hours to take just a quick look at all of the sites I had bookmarked in search of a truck.

Finding the perfect Fashion truck

And low and behold, the first website I landed on had a truck that was featured on the front page. It was a perfect size, had a window, had low miles, was in Nashville, Tennesee and was already partially built-out for a mobile boutique. 

I immediately reached out for more information hoping a sale wasn't pending or that I was too late. I was literally shaking and a nervous mess for hours as I kept scrolling through the album of photos on this used truck website. I can't explain the feeling, but I felt this abnormally strong attachment to this truck.

Yes, I agree that I sound crazy because I hadn't even seen the truck in person. I knew nothing more than the few details that were listed on the used truck website and it was all the way in Nashville while I'm 300+ miles away in Cincinnati. That didn't matter to me.

When I heard back from the lady selling it later that afternoon, she informed me it was still available. At that point, I knew I needed to schedule a trip down to Nashville to check it out.

But before I even had a chance to go over dates to make the trip, she kindly sent me an email several days later informing me that someone else was interested in the truck and had planned on picking it up in 48 hours. But she said to be fair, I could put a deposit down to hold it if I was really serious about getting it. 

I was beside myself. I knew I wanted this truck and my intuition told me it was the one. But still, it's REALLY scary to send someone you don't know a large sum of money who lives in another state for a truck you've never seen. Right? I'm sure you understand my trepidation. 

In my reply email, I asked the truck's owner to call me. Right after hitting send, I jumped up and ran into John's office and explained the situation. He knows I operate primarily on feelings, so when I asked him what I should do, he told me to do what I felt was right. 

I'll never forget that moment. I was sitting in the parking lot of my son's school about to drop off his Epi-Pen to the school nurse when the owner of the truck called me. She again informed me that someone was planning to pick it in 48 hours. That's when I blurted out that I'd send her a deposit right away if she could write up a contract. The words just came out. I didn't even realize until I hung up what I agreed to. 

There were so many things yet to be known. Honestly, at that time, I didn't even think to ask if the truck ran! But I was running off of my intuition and kept telling myself it WILL work out. 

I sent the deposit, purchased insurance and only when I started researching how to register the vehicle in a different state did I realize that I wouldn't be able to get the truck on Sunday as planned. In order to drive it home, I'd have to register it and get temporary tags, in person, at the Tennessee BMV. It wasn't a possibility to get the tags beforehand because the title needed to be in my name first.

Thankfully it was Labor Day weekend, and John's boss said it'd be totally fine if he worked on Labor Day and took off Friday. I kept reminding myself that everything so far is working out. This WILL happen and I will get this truck, but those affirmations I kept telling myself didn't help much with the anxiety I was experiencing. But the good news was, we were able to make a trip down to Nashville only 4 days after I agreed to purchase the truck and sent the deposit. 

Fast-forward to Friday and after dropping Myles off at the bus stop, we hopped in the car and headed to Nashville. Five hours later as we entered the seller's neighborhood, I saw the truck for the first time. I felt ALL the emotions. I knew we had a lot to do before I'd be pulling it into my driveway in Cincinnati, but kept telling myself we had made it this far. It IS going to work out. 

I signed the papers, obsessively thanked the truck's owner for holding it for me, got back in the car and headed with John to the Tennessee DMV to acquire temporary tags so we could legally drive the truck home to Cincinnati. 

Even though I was going through all of the motions, it still just didn't seem real. We taped the temporary tag on the back of the truck and that's when I realized I hadn't even checked to see if my feet could touch the petals! I know, it's an odd thing to think about after the fact, but I had never driven a truck in my life and here I am, about to drive this 21 foot truck over 300 miles to Cincinnati. 

I mean, John could've driven the truck home, but I had in my mind that I was going to drive it following behind him in my car. 

Fashion Truck | Cincinnati | Megan Fenno

For the record, my feet do touch the pedals. 

The next 7 hours were brutal. The truck doesn't have A/C and it was a hot August day in Nashville. Even with the windows open, I was a sweaty mess as I essentially was sitting in an enclosed tin box with direct sun beaming down on both me and the truck. Dripping in sweat, I maneuvered my way through the thick of rush hour traffic in downtown Nashville. 

As I sat there on the interstate, ready to burst into tears while questioning why I put myself in these situations, I noticed a faint smell of something burning. At this point, I was reassuring myself, out loud, that everything is going to work out. "Megan, you've got this. You're strong and you can do anything you put your mind too." I also sent John this picture while at a red light. 

The smell became stronger and filled the cab of the truck. I immediately called John, who was driving in front of me, in a panic informing him we absolutely needed to pull over at the next exit. I started to feel light-headed. 

Red-faced, dripping in sweat, I had one hand on the wheel while using the other one to try to wave in fresh air from the opened driver side window. I kept telling myself out loud that I didn't come this far to only come this far. As in, it's not my time to die. Not now, not in this truck and not in Tennessee. I'm certain I looked like a crazy person!

It felt like an eternity from when I called John to when we actually stopped at a gas station at the next exit. By this time, my heart was not only racing, but my face was so red from the heat that it appeared purple. I know this because the first thing I did was make a mad dash into the dirty gas station restroom and quickly looked in the mirror before sticking my entire head in the sink to run cold water over my head.

When I returned to the parking lot, moments of silence passed as John and I both stood there with our hands on our hips staring at the truck. I finally broke the silence. "Now what?"

John popped the hood and everything appeared fine. We took several laps around the truck and noticed the smell was coming from the back right corner.

Puzzled, we continued to stand there in silence.

John then broke the silence this time when he asked me to get quarters inside the gas station so he could use the air machine in front to check the tire pressure.

The tires were pretty low. Hoping this might solve the problem, he offered to drive the truck at least until we got to Louisville. We both knew it likely wasn't low tires causing the smell, but at this point, we really didn't know what else to do.

As John turned the key and started the truck, I told him how much I loved him and that this will all work out.

Did I also mention the speedometer read, 66,666? I can't make this stuff up.

Angels must have been watching over us, because as we continued on our journey home, this time with me behind the truck driving my car with my hazard lights on as we went about 50 MPH, the smell started to dissipate. 

One concern was addressed, at least for the time being. But the other thing the scared me is every time a semi-truck would pass us, it literally would suck the truck in and then push it away. It must be something with the airflow, but as semi's would pass John, I'd see the truck sway back and forth and I'd cringe while gripping the steering wheel of my car even harder.

This was Friday night. It's now Tuesday and as I type out this story, my hands still hurt from gripping my steering wheel so hard for such a long time.

When we started to see signs for Cincinnati, my anxiety briefly eased up. But it was only moments later when I saw lightning flash in the horizon. Then my mom called and told me there was a bad storm at home.

All I could think at the moment was that I hadn't checked to see if the windshield wipers on the truck even worked. And here, I have my sweet and supportive husband driving this truck that smelled terrible hours before and now he's about to drive through a bad storm, in the dark. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

Clearly, we made it through or I wouldn't be sharing this story. That moment when we pulled into our driveway early Saturday morning was one of the best feelings I've had in a long time. We made it. We actually are home, with the truck, unscathed. It still feels like a miracle. 

There were other times when I wasn't sure if I'd ever experience the relief of pulling our truck into the driveway.

Somewhere in Kentucky, a semi-truck started to veer into our lane as it barreled its way down a hill somewhere on I-71 north. I laid on my horn, and thankfully John swerved over to the interstate shoulder just in time to miss getting side-swiped.

From that moment on, I drove behind him with my hazard lights on. I'm not sure if that's even legal but gave me a small sense of comfort through our eventful commute home. 

Long story short, I felt so compelled to share this experience, my journey and my why with you.

I want people to know that yes, while I looked kind of cute standing there with a big smile on my face while holding up a hand-written sign in front of my truck announcing my new adventure, it didn't come easy. 

I've spent countless hours after working all day sitting on the couch at night with my laptop researching trucks, generators, permits and licenses. I hired a business coach that specializes in successfully operating mobile boutiques. She gave me homework. A LOT. For a while, we had phone calls every Tuesday evening that often would last over 3 hours. 

I'm sharing all of this in hopes that it inspires you to take action. That can mean anything from fulfilling your biggest dreams to making a goal of keeping your kitchen counter clutter-free, which, not going to lie,  is something that feels nearly impossible in my home.

But whatever it is you want, do it. Start taking small steps. The fun for me hasn't even started yet, but I already know it's so worth every ounce of anxiety I endured because I was able to get the exact truck I wanted and it's going to be AWESOME when it's completed and ready to roll. 

This story has become a lot longer than I had expected so I'm going to end it with this quote I love from Theodore Roosevelt: 

Theodore Roosevelt | Nothing Worth Having Ever Comes Easy | My story about starting a fashion truck & mobile boutique business | Megan Fenno

5 Responses

Ashley K (CKD Boutique)
Ashley K (CKD Boutique)

May 07, 2019

WOW! Literally have me in tears over here. The truck looks amazing and thanks for sharing your story!


April 07, 2019

Wow wow wow ! This is so awesome . I definitely know what I have to do . Thank you for all this great advice … awesome story telling … you had me following with such ease !
All the best !

Mardia 😊

Joe anderson
Joe anderson

March 07, 2019

I read your story and glad i got the chance to have a hand in wrapping your truck. We finished it today and it looks amazing , im sure youre going to love it. Good luck in your adventures.

Kristin Montalvo Suer
Kristin Montalvo Suer

January 06, 2019

You inspire so many people with your stories. So excited and so so proud of you!

Cathy Streicher
Cathy Streicher

September 04, 2018

So very proud of your tenacity and instincts. You are going to be so successfully. Follow your heart. ❌⭕️♥️

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