The Evolution of the TYPO Truck

Well, it’s safe to say that my hare-brained idea of adding a mobile boutique to my business was a good gamble. After debuting the TYPO truck last fall, with just a few months left in the selling season, I quickly realized that that truck was worth its weight in gold!

My friend and fellow creative Jennifer Allwood recently wrote a blog about the paint-chip dress she created as eye candy to draw crowds at events. Having something unique that catches people’s attention and gets them to stop is brilliant. Enter BIG, GREEN TRUCK. It’s definitely a show-stopper anywhere it goes. It doesn’t matter if I’m driving down the interstate, parked with food trucks or set up inside of Bartle Hall convention center for the Home Show. People stop and stare. They smile with a look of wonderment and curiosity. And then I hook ‘em with the uniqueness of my TYPOGRFX artwork, which is usually followed up with comments like, “Oh wow, this art is pretty cool!”

The TYPO Truck mobile boutique set up at a Food Truck brunch hosted by the Roasterie in Kansas City

Since it was already so late in the show season after the truck was finished, I quickly filled my calendar with any and all events I could get into with the truck. My first couple events were small and learning experiences.

Lesson 1: I needed handrail for the stairs. While I certainly didn’t expect people with mobility issues to be able to come into the truck, I found that the average person reached for the door frame as they stepped up into the truck. And a couple people even rudely complained. Easy fix though.

Lesson 2: I needed lights for outside of the truck. My first outing ran until after dark at a place that didn’t have any outside lighting. Minor fail. I found carnival style “patio” string lights on clearance at Target as they were getting ready to put out their identical lights labeled “Christmas”. Score!

Lesson 3: All you can do is ask. As fate would have it, on November 5th (the day before first Fridays – a big deal in the Crossroads Art District) I saw a guy on the morning news talking about his new brewery and how great first Fridays were for them. So I took a chance and messaged him asking if he knew of a place I could set up. The owner Eric offered to let me park in his parking lot off the street between him and a neighboring brewery. He even used his own vehicle to keep the spot saved for me, helped me get backed in and let me use his power for my lights (I hadn’t purchased a generator yet). What a great guy! Show them some love at Border Brewing Company!

Lesson 4: I definitely need help at larger events! During my first big event, Holiday Mart, there was a line outside of the truck for 4 days straight of people who just wanted to come in and see what it was all about. Hours went by without me ever stepping foot outside of the truck. My friends who graciously worked with me saved me by greeting shoppers, handing out business cards, answering questions and even selling items as best as they could with no cash box or credit card swiper outside the truck. It was a good problem to have!



 Lesson 5: People want to buy everything. This was perhaps one of the biggest surprises to me and in hindsight, one of my biggest oversights. Many people would come in the truck, look around and say baffling things like “So, uh, do you sell clocks?” (and point to the little clock I had painted) or “Can I buy this globe?” (another décor piece I worked so hard to find to complete interior). I would chuckle and say things like, “Well, it’s not really for sale. But you can buy this artwork!” Then I would go into my sales spiel. This happened often enough that something finally clicked in my head, “What IF they could buy the clock or the pillows on the couch or the faux plants that decorated the truck?” It was a crazy idea and in the midst of being buried in holiday orders, I dismissed it.

Flash forward to January that was spent sleeping (almost kidding) and February that was spent planning out my year’s marketing strategy and my show calendar, I started pondering how to utilize the truck more to grow my business. I put together “truck show” hostess packages and explored new business partnerships and venues to take the truck to. But I couldn’t help but think of those lingering, and at the time annoying, questions I kept getting from people about buying my display pieces. I consulted with a few friends and my ever-wise mother-in-law.. Does selling items that I didn’t personally make dilute my brand? Does it take away from what I actually do? Will people get it? And more importantly, would they buy it?

My mother-in-law raised several valid points. People often ask me home decorating and interior design questions anyways. Wouldn’t it be great if I had something right on the spot to sell them that would compliment the personalized artwork I was already recommending to them? I could maintain the living room feeling of the interior while having décor pieces that were actually for sale.

It seemed too easy. But then again, eight years ago, designing artwork out of people’s words seemed easy, but no one was doing it back then and I capitalized on that and created a thriving business! So I decided to start researching home décor suppliers and tried finding pieces that fit both my own personal tastes in home décor and also the ever-changing trends. I placed my first order in March and it arrived about the same time I got the truck out of winter storage. I dusted her off and decorated her with all of the new, sale-able décor. What a novel idea – a boutique truck filled with stuff people can actually buy! And personalized samples of artwork they can order. Brilliant. (like I said before – it was a minor oversight)

With a little bit of brainstorming, I decided to call my new line of home décor my “curated collection” since they were items I personally selected to be included in my truck and to compliment TYPOGRFX art. I also decided to rename my cash-n-carry items to be called the “designer collection” since those are all things personally designed by me. I also made another as-for-now choice to make the curated collection exclusive to the truck – or “trucksclusive” as I came up with – mostly so I don’t have to manage inventory between the truck and my website. This may change in the future, but for now, these items are great sellers in the truck.

TYPOGRFX curated collection of home decor accessories - pillows, faux-real plants, frames, candles and more!

People are intrigued by the truck itself, impressed with the artwork, and love the satisfaction of walking away with a newly purchased item on the spot.

So ultimately, I guess the moral of this story is to always be willing to adapt and to change to what your customers want. Over the course of eight years, my business model has evolved dramatically while the basic concept and product of personalized art has stayed the same. This has allowed me to not only survive, but to thrive, and I wish the same to you and your business!