Mobile boutique owners living a dream
By Christina Hunter
Chelse Collins and Manzura Ishanova knew they wanted to open a clothing business soon after they met.
They thought about the idea for about a year and decided that setting up shop in a building would make the ideas price prohibitive.
They settled on a mobile store, naming it Novus Racks, which in English means new beginnings. They purchased an old 16-passenger bus and set out to live their dream of becoming entrepreneurs.
It didn’t take long before they had the walls stocked with dresses, shirts, pants and candles. A small fitting room was added in the back.
They recently got their business rolling.
“I like to consider it a mobile movement because we’re aiming to motivate entrepreneurs to think outside of the box,” said Collins, 27. “You know most of the time people thought; ‘OK I want to open up a retail store or a boutique and they think it’s brick and mortar, which is very expensive.
“The thing is Manzura and I wanted to become entrepreneurs, but we couldn’t afford the brick and mortar so we started thinking of different ways that we could reach that goal within our budget. We’re hoping that people come on and say, ‘Wow this is nice, it looks good (and) it functions just like a retail store’.”
After renovating their bus, the two women are now bringing style to the streets of Tallahassee. They don’t have specific locations; however, they would show up at events such as festivals and concerts or anywhere that they’re booked for.
They don’t have a sense of their success just yet, but they plan to be charitable as long as they are in business. They plan to support the Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend.
While the mobile boutique concept is new to the city, the turnout for their grand opening indicates they’re quickly developing a customer base.
Tiffany Nealy came to check out the offerings on the day they opened on North Monroe.
“I met Chelse at a networking event and she told me about her business and they were going to be opening up soon,” Nealy said. “I just kind of followed on Facebook and Instagram. So, I’m just here to support her.”
Shoppers were also treated to upcoming clothing releases at a fashion show the ladies held after the ribbon cutting inside the Fuma Cigar Social.
Ishanova, a 29-year-old working mom, wants to bring more than just style to shoppers.
“For me this business is about inspiration,” said Ishanova. “I come from a different country (and) when I came here I didn’t know the language. I had to go through a lot of things, but I overcame everything. Now I have a family, a 2-year-old son. I was sitting at home and I was like, ‘No, I can do that. I can be mom and my own boss.’ ”
When the two women got together they transformed their dreams into realties.
Collins and Ishanova met at a Panama City Beach nail salon. Collins, a graduate of FAMU’s School of Journalism, worked as a nail tech to get through school. Ishanova owned closet organizing company in Cincinnati, Ohio before moving to Tallahassee.
“I started to work and that’s when I met Chelse, we were like, ‘OK, I see that passion so, let’s do it together.’ ”
The two incorporated their different styles to produce unique, affordable and fashionable clothing for the boutique.
“There is nothing you cannot do,” Collins said. “You have to dream it … dream very hard.”