Mona Tisler: Keeping Kids Classy on a Budget

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By Jennifer Rader, Contributing Writer

classy kidsSome of the best ways to create a successful business aren’t always traditional. Entrepreneurs often have the ability to take everyday ideas and add twists that make them memorable and, many times, profitable.

We spoke with Mona Tisler, owner of Classy Kids Consignment, about how she selects options, builds small and moves forward  in business. By doing her research, this Nokesville mom of four has built a small enterprise that suits her family, the community and even the environment.

PWL:  When did the company begin and what was the inspiration behind the start of Classy Kids Consignment?

Tisler: It started in March 2005. Our family moved from Milwaukee, Wis., where I was introduced to consignment sales. After moving here I got tired of driving out of the county to save on my kids’ clothes and toys. Prince William was the fastest-growing county, and we really needed something here.

PWL:  Did it begin as a second job or hobby and how has it evolved into your current life?

Tisler: We started very part-time, as a small event that has developed into a full-time job. It’s a family operation. My parents work with me, and my husband developed the point-of- sale software for the ever-changing inventory, tagging system, tracking, sales and reports.

PWL: What is Classy Kids Consignment about?

Tisler: We don’t have a store front. The sales are always at different locations, and we have three seasons we book events: spring, back-to-school and fall. We look for sites that are about 10,000 square feet and able to accommodate several thousand  for parking. We don’t have a full-time staff, just a few contractors and volunteers who work in order to be able to shop before events open to the public.

It started with a small inventory and has grown to the level of the last sale where 45,000 items came in with 30,000 being sold. Consigners make 60 percent to 70 percent on their sales of their items. I like the idea of recycling and reusing items versus them going into a landfill.

PWL: Did you have previous business experience before starting Classy Kids Consignment?

Tisler: No, I didn’t have previous business experience. I have a degree in behavioral psychology and had previously been a teacher working with autistic children at a residential school.

PWL: Did you ever think you would become an entrepreneur?

Tisler: No, no, I was a stay-at-home mom and I thought that is what my job ought to be. But I got a little stir-crazy and thought this would benefit the kids, the community and it wasn’t full-time.

PWL: What business challenges have you overcome?    Tisler: One challenge was meeting the demand of how quickly we were growing. Purchasing the needed items like enough computers [and also]dealing with being robbed at a location where our computers were stolen is memorable. Storage is always a problem and also finding a location. It’s surprising how nobody returns a phone call.

PWL:  What have been the most positive parts of founding Classy Kids Consignment?

Tisler: The biggest blessing occurred at the first sale. I met a few ladies [who]really liked the concept and they’ve stuck with me. They have been a huge part of our success. We, as a family, schedule life around the sales.

We were recognized in 2010 and 2011 as a “Best Regional Consignment”  [by] And  we  were included in the 2012 “Best of Prince William County” list by InsideNova. But the biggest benefit has been the people I’ve met through the sales.

PWL:  Is there a unique story behind your name development?

Tisler: I had a different name picked out for the business. A friend who is a graphic artist was working on the logo and typed “Classy Kids.” It just looked so much better than what I had picked out.

PWL: What has been the most effective way to get Classy Kids Consignment in front of potential customers?

Tisler: The most effective has been Craigslist and Facebook. Online marketing and word of mouth has been the way to go for us. When people sign up for the mailing list, nine out of 10 said they heard about us from a friend. Even ebay has a place to advertise events and we’ve done that as well. Postcards are also used as a reminder and we’ve added a magnet to the card that lists all our upcoming sale dates and locations. The magnet was a big success.


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