Grad Converts Bread Truck into Mobile Fashion Company

It all started in a closet. What was once just an idea for Brandi King—a 2015 Haslam College of Business graduate—is now a reality. Her company, Rentique, officially opens its doors this week.

“About three years ago I was standing in my closet and several of my friends had come over to borrow dresses, and I joked, ‘I should start charging you for this,’ and that’s really when the idea first came about,” said King, a Kingston, Tennessee, native.

Rentique - Brandi King

Rentique is a mobile fashion truck that rents high-end dresses and apparel for special occasions. The truck features a changing room, sitting area and a variety of clothing styles, many of which are custom designs.

King, an engineering major at the time, recalls the exact moment she decided to pursue her idea.

“I was a business minor when Tom Graves, the operations director of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, came to speak to one of my classes about entrepreneurship. His speech got me really excited, and I changed my major that day.”

From there, King went on to take Entrepreneurship 350: Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and less than two months into the semester she had located a business partner and legally formed her business.

“I remember Dr. David Williams saying in class one day, ‘An idea is just an idea until you go and do something about it,’ and that’s when I decided to take the first step,” said King.

Knowing she needed to partner with a fashion designer, she set out to find someone local. She came across Jenifer Sanabria, owner of Jeni D. Designs, and reached out to her online.

“I had seen Jenifer’s Kickstarter campaign for her clothing line online,” said King. “I really loved her designs, and I figured she had an entrepreneurial side based on her use of Kickstarter. We ended up meeting for coffee to discuss the idea of starting a fashion truck, and we hit it off.”

Soon after, the partnership was formalized, and Rentique was one step closer to becoming a reality.

The next challenge was finding funding get Rentique up and running. King secured a loan through UT Federal Credit Union’s Line 12 Fund, allowing her to purchase a used Wonder Bread delivery truck.

King then secured an additional $16,000 in funding by winning all three competitions offered by the Anderson Center during the spring 2015 semester. She first won Vol Court, collecting $1,000 in cash as well as legal and accounting services. Next, she was awarded $10,000 in the Boyd Venture Challenge, and she completed her sweep by collecting a $5,000 prize for first place in the 2015 Undergraduate Business Plan Competition.

“Winning those competitions was a huge help,” said King. “The cash was used for the truck build-out and our website. It included getting the logo designed, the truck wrapped and building its interior. We’ve used part of it toward inventory as well, but a lot of that was my partner’s contribution. As part of winning Vol Court, I was also able to meet with Erick Jackson at PYA, who helped me set up QuickBooks.”

King kept costs down by completing a lot of the work on the truck herself with the help of friends and family.

Rentique offers 200 dresses in the truck in thirty-eight styles. Dresses can be rented for a flat fee of $19.99 for one dress or $29.99 for two. Dresses may be kept for seven days and returned to the Rentique truck or any Prestige Cleaners location.

The Rentique truck will be at the following locations this week:

  • Thursday, September 3, from 1 to 5 pm at KBrew, 1328 North Broadway.
  • Friday, September 4, from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at Tennessee School of Beauty, 4704 Western Ave.
  • Saturday, September 5, at UT Federal Credit Union on the Strip for a Game Day Rentique Tailgate. Shoppers can enjoy giveaways, games, and SEC football on Rentique’s TV.

King is working with many local businesses to establish future dates. Customers can keep up with the truck’s location by following @RentiqueTruck on Twitter or checking the Rentique website.

 

CONTACT:

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, tyra.haag@tennessee.edu)

Kimberly Hood (865-974-5123, khood3@utk.edu)