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Females & Finances: Sarah Mullins

Sarah Mullins | Females & Finances

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

This month, learn how Sarah Mullins paired her dreams of entrepreneurship with some savvy financial insights to create her thriving vintage retail company, A LA CRATE.

  • What does “owning it” mean to you? 
    To me, “owning it” means taking responsibility for your actions and the results, both good and bad. Then, take that responsibility and run with it! You’re in control. If you aren’t happy or something isn’t working, you have the power to change it. If something comes to fruition because of your actions…be proud! Enjoy the ups and acknowledge the downs. They are all part of your story.
  • Tell us about your personal and professional journey and how you got where you are today.
    I grew up watching my mom run her own business out of our house. I admired what she did and how she juggled family time with her professional creative goals. I dreamed of something similar for myself someday. My only trouble was…I just didn’t know what that would be! I loved so many different things. After graduating with a fine arts degree, I worked as a production artist by day and explored other career opportunities at night. I prototyped a line of pants with a close friend, did window display design for local businesses, looked into culinary school, shadowed an interior designer…I kept exploring, often getting frustrated and impatient with myself. When Jeff and I got married, we found a need in the marketplace for vintage rentals. Vintage rentals at the time were a new trend just starting on the coasts. There was nothing like it in Wisconsin. Aha! Textiles, ceramics, handcrafted goods. Such a variety of things we could collect and make! One thing led to another, and we grew our collection slowly. We continued to work multiple jobs to make ends meet and allow the business to grow organically and feed itself. Our main goal was for it to someday support both Jeff and me. Today, I am proud to say that A LA CRATE Rentals supports not only the two of us, but also our two sweet children, and now some of our closest friends/co-workers. We are lucky to have THE BEST customers in the world and be part of some incredibly meaningful events. 
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about finances?
    My dad always said growing up, “The more money you make, the more money you spend.” Like most things my dad said, this too was true. As our business has grown, so have our expenses. It’s a juggling act to find the right balance. Watch your expenses closely, but allow your business room to grow. 
  • What resources/strategies help you manage your money?
    Profit First by Mike Michalowicz was the best $24.99 investment we ever made. Until we read this book, we only had one account. When you run a seasonal business, cash flow is very hard to manage and track. Michalowicz recommends going to your financial and setting up multiple accounts. On the 10th and 25th of each month, transfer specific target percentages to those accounts. This way you can actually SEE how much is in your operating expense account and be sure you have enough set aside for taxes, owners compensation, etc. It has helped our business immensely. Ask any member of our team, and they’ll tell you I’m constantly referring fellow business owners and entrepreneurs to page 68. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy now!
  • What’s your favorite quote from an inspirational woman?
    "Don't you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct." –Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran

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