448
8 min 32 sec

Santa Barbara Gift Shop Sells Soulful Succulents

She had always wanted to open a bricks-and-mortar retail store, but it was always too expensive—until now.
Creative Product Retail Unique Ideas

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What It's About

When opportunity knocks, a woman in Santa Barbara opens the door and steps through.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Resourcefulness & Gardening
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Also, a note on dream direction … I often encourage people to choose simple solutions, or if you have two choices, to do whatever is easiest. But still, if you have a dream, don’t let me or anyone else redirect you.

If it’s your dream to open a bricks-and-mortar store, don’t be discouraged—there’s probably some way to do it, even in an expensive area. Also, the other way to think about it is if it’s an expensive area with wealthy residents and a lot of visitors, then you have lots of buyers.

Fun Fact

Nina is not new to the side hustle. When she was 16, Nina used to have a side hustle where she would buy brand name items at discount shops and then turn around and sell them on eBay to people who didn't have a style quotient in their towns.

She also taught jewelry making classes at a craft store she worked at a bit later and even had a pretty successful jewelry business where she sold her wares online and at markets.

Notes from Chris

Episode 448

Santa Barbara is 90 miles north of Los Angeles, but it feels like a different world. You still have the beautiful California sunshine, but depending on where you live, it can take 10 minutes to get to a gorgeous beach instead of an hour or more in standstill traffic. There are award-winning restaurants, wineries, and a more laid-back way of life.

As of a few months ago, there’s also a succulent bar and plant shop. It’s called Thunder Moon Collective. Visitors and residents can wander in to buy house plants, handmade goods from local makers, and meaningful vintage home goods. Best of all, they can pick a pot, a succulent or cactus, and Nina Brito will help them create an arrangement of terrarium on the spot. All of the vessels are one of a kind.

So who’s Nina, and how did Thunder Moon Collective come to be?

To start, Nina had been having a hard time. She was just coming out of a divorce and was using work as a kind of distraction. But oddly enough, for once, she didn't have a side hustle (although that would soon change).

Her inspiration was to make succulent arrangements. She had a collection of vintage vessels that bordered on hoarding, and she also had a garden full of succulents. She started out making these arrangements for herself, and then for friends, but when she started to run out of room and people to give them to, she went into a shop in town who agreed to carry them. Soon after, she snagged prime shelf space at three other shops and was thrilled to have a reason to make even more.

It didn't bring her in more than a couple hundred each month, but that inspiration led to a bigger idea. And that big idea led to what she calls her "big break."

A friend connected her with a local property manager. When they met for lunch, Nina told her about her idea to create a community space that was also a retail store. She talked about what she would sell and how she would decorate the space, and the property manager was interested! She convinced Nina to check out a space that she managed even though opening a retail store seemed nearly impossible at the time.

Still, she agreed to see the space, and when she did, she fell in love. Her new friend asked her what she would do with the space if she had it, and after sharing her vision with her, the property manager told her that it was hers. She had a permanent renter coming in four months, but til then, the space was going to just sit empty.

It was a completely low-risk opportunity for Nina to validate her idea, so she jumped at the chance (after a little persuading, of course).

The first two months were a disaster when a real disaster struck in the form of the worst fires in California’s recorded history. The shop had to be closed, and after working for several weeks, Nina had made a total of $20. As the area began to recover, so did the new store. It began paying for itself right around the $5,000 sales mark.

It’s now bringing in $3,000 a month and has made $2,000 in profit. Again, the store is just a few months old, and the first two months were in the midst of those fires.

Of course, the location was temporary, so all the while Nina was learning to run a storefront while working her regular job, she was also scoping out possibilities for a more permanent home. Just as we prepared to record this episode, she wrote in with an update: she had a plan! Nina will soon be moving to a new space in downtown Santa Barbara. The rent is more, and the space is smaller since it’s essentially in a group of shared artist stalls—but they’re in a prime location, so she calls it a dream scenario for the time being.


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Thunder Moon Collective: If you're interested in learning more about Nina and her unique succulent creations, check out her website!
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"I really don't think I would have ever attempted something this big and risky if I wasn't faced with such an incredible opportunity. I think a lot of people would have still said no with the workload I have in my day job."
—Nina Brito #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau