In our Females & Finances series, inspirational women leaders from Madison and Milwaukee share their words of wisdom for women who are trying to manage their finances and own it in their everyday lives. Know someone who has a great story to share? Send nominations to Marketing.Requests@summitcreditunion.com.
This month, learn how ReKindled & Co. owner Heidi LeHew fulfilled her dream of creating a home décor and vintage store … in the back of a 1972 Winnebago!
- What does “owning it” mean to you?
No matter what we do in life, good or bad, positive or negative, we are the only ones responsible for our path at the end of the day. Sure, there are obstructions here and there, but it's how we handle those that determines our success. We can either dwell on them and miss a deadline or not produce the highest quality products, or we can solve the problem and come out on top. Really, it's a mindset. And whatever we CHOOSE to do, we are then responsible for owning it. Good or bad ... own that choice and move on. For me, the stronger I "own it," the more growth I see in my own personal confidence.
- Tell us about your personal and professional journey and how you got where you are today.
I am a mother to three amazing kiddos (Mason is 7, Maddox is 5 and Makayla is almost 2). My husband and I met in Madison 14 years ago, and we couldn't be happier to call it home. I graduated with a degree in business and applied that for a few years in the corporate world. In 2012, after an empty feeling in my job, I quit. It was important for me to be able to focus on our growing family. But my creative instincts were exploding, and I knew I couldn't "not work" for long. Coming from a talented family of builders, I always wanted to create, and then ReKindled was born. I started doing small local craft shows and as my skills developed, I took on more. I self-taught many things and wish I had someone who was closer to teach me many more! I just tinker until I get the result I like. Eventually, I began painting and building furniture, and procuring vintage and farm goods.
In 2015, I found a toy Winnebago at an estate sale. I got it for our boys to play with and as they were playing one day I studied the shape and amazing look of that truck, and it wasn't long before I fell in love with the idea of a mobile retail truck. I did a TON of online research and was shocked to find out there wasn't one registered truck in the state of Wisconsin yet. Over the next few years, I sat on that idea. (Totally kicking myself for not jumping sooner.) I tore that Winnebago apart and mocked up exactly what I wanted to have some day. I wrote my business plan and came up with ideas. I filled notebooks with daydreams. And when the timing was right, God gave me the opportunity.
I was scammed via two transactions before my dad found a 1972 Winnebago Brave in Wyoming. I sent him the money, and he purchased it sight unseen for me. And then he drove it all the way back to Madison. WOWZA! It was then I found out we were pregnant with our third child, and as much as I wanted to do the renovations myself, it wasn't in the cards. We found an amazing company, Caged Crow Fabrications, in St. Germain, Wisconsin, and they finished the project. She rolled out in May of 2017.
The road has not been easy, but nothing worth it ever is. I have broken down, been stuck in the rain, had to redo plans and layouts, and spent more on mechanical upgrades than I thought I needed. But every single little blow is just another chapter of this awesome journey that I’m truly lucky to be a part of. Blessed.
- What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about finances?
I learned many things prior to owning the Winnebago, and I'm thankful for that. First and foremost, I only spend money on things I can pay for that day. If I don't have the money available, I don't spend it. That has helped me keep ReKindled out of debt (other than the loan for the actual truck). On top of that, I save, save, save. My husband and I have focused his income on our daily living expenses and savings. The financial gains from ReKindled are either reinvested in the business or pay for things like home renovations, new furniture or personal debt. As the business grows, we will continue to work as a team to keep the business out of debt, but use profits to aid in the extras for our family. By staying home with the kiddos, I'm not only able to have those amazing memories with them, but also remove the childcare burden from our family. Double win!
- What resources/strategies help you manage your money?
Finances may be my weakest skill, but I do my very best to learn and grow year over year. I work with other businesses like mine to share our secrets about what works and what doesn’t. I’ve created a log sheet that is specific to my business to track things like inventory, expenses, fees and the like. It has given me a clear look at what is going on at all times in the business – where my money is going and where I can make better choices. The online tools that Summit provides are very helpful, and I use them often to help with my documentation.
- What’s your favorite quote from an inspirational woman?
“Nothing Is IMPOSSIBLE, the word itself says I'M POSSIBLE.” – Audrey Hepburn