9 min 28 sec

Clothing Boutique Burns Down, Rebuilds to 4 Locations

This contractor went from flipping refurbished clothes on the side to starting her own boutique. After the store burns down in a fire, she carefully reads her insurance policy to discover she’s entitled to an additional $30,000 payment.
High Profit Product Reselling Retail

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What It's About

A case study that reminds you to always read the fine print...

Business Model
Skills Required
Product Sourcing & Resourcefulness
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

It didn’t take long for Nicole to find her stride when it came to inventory. Many of the women who came in talked about feeling judged or shamed at other stores, and Nicole knew the feeling. She made shopping at her boutique an experience free of second glances or snide comments by treating her customers with respect and carrying items for all sizes.

Fun Fact

After a fire destroyed everything, Nicole’s insurance neglected to tell her about a $30,000 payout she was entitled to, but she read through the policy with a fine-toothed comb and got them to pay up.

Notes from Chris

Episode 768
Nicole Whitesell has been a creative moneymaker ever since she was young. As an eighth-grader, she sold handmade neck warmers. She had to stop because one blew up someone’s microwave. There were other side hustles over the years, most of them involving flipping something on eBay.

During college, Nicole discovered that she could buy Nordstrom’s refurbished clothes at a deep discount and resell them online for a significant profit. She made a few hundred dollars per month this way, so she continued the gig on the side after she graduated and became a full-time general contractor for home construction. Nicole even built out her own e-commerce store.

Unfortunately, the construction work didn’t last long. The housing market crashed and new work slowed to a trickle. Old work stopped paying Nicole’s invoices on time.

Somehow, Nicole’s online e-commerce store, Adorn, was still bringing in a steady income. She posted on Instagram every now and then and it brought some traffic to her site, which usually turned into a few hundred dollars per month. Nicole figures she could have earned more, but she didn’t really have any digital marketing strategy at the time—she was just winging it.

And here’s the reason: her dream was really to open a physical retail store, not an online-online store.

One day, Nicole and her husband drove by a storefront that had been empty for two years. It was in a great location, but the rent was too high to attract new businesses.

“If we can negotiate a lower price,” her husband said, “this would be the perfect place to start a store.”

The couple was broke—like, living with Nicole’s parents, on public healthcare, and almost on food stamps—and construction wasn’t going to bounce back anytime soon. They felt like the only direction they could go was up, so they decided to go for it. The owner agreed to a lower price (you never know if you don’t ask), helped him remodel the building—which got them six months of free rent—and then Nicole started calling suppliers.

Nicole wasn’t going to resell clothes anymore. She was going to source clothes from designers and vendors. It took a while to find the right ones—many weren’t eager to work with a first-timer—but she was able to get just enough onboard for a launch.

The official Adorn storefront opened a couple months later. Things were slow at first, but that was almost a blessing. Nicole could finish up contractor projects from the back office, and her 2.5 year old and newborn went with her to work every day—she couldn’t have handled a busy store!

Over the next seven years, Nicole fought her way through dozens of challenges. One year, she went through four managers. She gave up on e-commerce sales for a while, then hired a new digital marketer a few months later. For several years, the family relied on her husband’s construction work for the bulk of their income.

It was never easy, but it was rewarding.

Nicole loved helping women find clothes that made sense for their size and style. She loved investing in her employees and giving them a meaningful job. She loved building a business from the ground up. So every time a problem came up, she figured it out.

Adorn now has four retail locations, a thriving e-commerce store, and 36 employees who love what they do. Nicole knows she can leave for days or weeks without the stores burning down… literally or figuratively.

So she’s decided: 2019 will be the year of Nicole. She’s going to rest, invest time into her own skills and desires, and spend more time with her family. She’s earned it!


  • Adorn: Learn more about this head turning side hustle over on Nicole's website!


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

Yours in the revolution,


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"Never underestimate the value of an outside perspective from someone you really trust."
—Nicole Whitesell #SideHustleSchool

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