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The Downfall…….

I almost don’t know where to begin.  Everything with CTA’s developement and progress was going better than I could imagine, and then a bombshell hit me, impacting every single aspect of my life; most prolifically, Cargo Train head-on!

December was a great month for the company.  I was planning a half a dozen new projects and excited to bring in the new year living a dream that I had spent my life daydreaming about, and in January of this year, that dream came to an absolute stand-still.  It’s the first time ever did a personal situation ever effect my work.  Most specifically, my marriage.

When I began building this company, doing all of the research, logo designing, networking, etc…my husband would tell me that he was so excited for me, and that he would be disappointed if I ever stopped fighting for my dream with launching Cargo Train, and I foolishly believed his words, until I slowly began to see that the further I took Cargo Train, the more friction began to build up between he and I.  I was totally perplexed.  He was telling me this, but his actions were showing me something completely different.

I knew things were getting bad when my family members started reaching out to me, and telling me that my husband was “overbearing” and “controlling” me.  Having what I thought was a solid marriage and family life, I didn’t want to believe what they were trying to tell me.  From that night, I began watching him closer than I ever have….looking for clues and signs that would somehow validate what my family was trying to tell me.  So I said, “fuck it”, let’s find out, and I simply went out with my friends one night to a cafe that I had been going to since I was 14 years old.  Something I haven’t done since getting married, being a new mom and starting CTA (common sacrifice when youre a self-funded solopreneur…the social life is always the first to go), my daughter stayed with my mother that night, and the night was going smoothly…..that was until I came back home around 1:30am.

With my daughter sleeping in my arms.  I opened the door and walked into the living room; I was completely devastated with what I saw.  My house was a disaster!  I kept my cool, and calmly put my daughter into her bed, and then went from room to room, guaging and “taking in” what he had done just because I went out against his wishes.  I walked from the kitchen to the dining room table to find one of my boxes with a knife sticking out of it, and that honestly scared me.  I took it as an immediate threat for my safety, even thought he had never been physical with me before, I knew better than to underestimate someone’s ability to do anything.  My stomach plummeted, and instantly thought of my office on the 2nd floor where I ran all of Cargo Train’s admin and shipping.  Inventory was kept in a room down the hall from my office which doubled as my make shift photography studio……everything had been destroyed!  My equipment, my files, the items I had been prepping for sale that week, my props, supplies…..he destroyed everything out of a senseless act of pure jealousy.

I almost didn’t know how to react.  So many emotions were hitting me at once.  All I could think of was the magnitude of the sacrifices I had made in order to live my dream:  time away from our daughter, saving money for more inventory or supplies instead of buying things for myself.  The hundreds of hours I had dedicated to the progress of Cargo Train.  Severals days every week only sleeping maybe 2-3 hours before going into my dispatching job (midnights), then coming home and taking care of our daughter while he worked 12+ hours, all the while, playing “perfect wife” cooking the meals, cleaning the house….I was cinderella without the fancy dress and my prince charming being my worst nightmare —I was just…..devastated.

He killed my dream.  He took the one thing I loved as much as being a mother……my ability to adequetly operate my company.

To me, CTA was just like having a 2nd child.  I created it, nurtured it, supported it, sacrificed for it, dreamt about it my whole life….I saw CTA no different than my own daughter, of course the only difference being that I would never sacrifice my daughter’s well-being for Cargo Train, she always came first…regarless of the dreams I had.  So mentally, he took one of my children from me.  I swallowed hard, and walked into the guest bedroom, where he was passed out on the bed, and I calmly informed him that he had 48 hours to remove himself from the house, or I was going to do it for him.  The hardest part was the confirmation of all the “feelings” and “signs” I had been noticing for awhile, but refused to acknowledge. What “good wife” would? I was in denial because I loved him as much as I did.

This was my husband, the man who made an oath to love me and be there  for me until the end of time. Never expecting ever that he would be the one that was sabatoging my every effort, every step of the way!  Placing roadblocks in front of me, and getting more and more constricting when I was overcoming, not only, being the underdog entrepreneur of St. Louis, but all the extras he was throwing at me as well.  I kept reaching goals, and his resentment towards my ambitions kept growing!

I am still coping with the aftermath and the separation to this day now nearly 10 months later, and the struggle didn’t end in back in January…..little did I know, they were only the beginning!  The worst was still to come.  It probably took me about 2 weeks before I had the strength to walk back into my office and begin salvaging what I could. Being a self-funded startup, I knew I had no extra finances to replace what was destroyed.  I cried….a lot, the pain from the betrayal was bad enough, but battling both the loss of my company and the loss of the “ideal” family life was overwhelming. Faking smiles for my daughter so that she didn’t have to see how sad mommy was all the time, and that daddy was to blame.  I didn’t want to push my feelings and thoughts of my ex-husband out on her, she still very much adored her father, and coming from someone who never had that privilege, I wasn’t about to take that from her…..so I would lie day after day and say mommy got mascara or my infamous liquid liner in my eye…it made for a perfect excuse for the tears.

That night in January changed me completely…..inside and out!  I turned to fitness as an outlet for the pain and increidble anger I was stuck with and as a way of preparing me to become a single mom, and all that was to follow after the separation.  Even though, CTA was growing up beautifully, my ex-husband was still the bread winner after my “night job” closed for business; so I relied solely on Cargo Train to fill in the financial gap.  The next several months after we separated, I lost everything one by one….the car (repo’d), the house (expired lease), sold many of my possessions just to make ends meet for me and my daughter, and accepting that I was about to become homeless for the first time in my life.  I had to send my daughter to stay with my mother while I began this very…….long……road….back to where it was before everything came tumbling down.  I am still working on that as I write this.  I am still homeless, but looking forward to a new apartment within the next month, and when that happens, you bet your ass, Cargo Train will be coming with me.  I will pick up the pieces, and this time around, it will be on my own terms, not under the dictation of another!  Some dreams come and go, but real dreams never die! Not a day passed that I didn’t think of my dream that was taken from me.  Real dreams stick with you when there seems to be “no hope”, always know……THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE!

Today, I am working hard and looking forward at relaunching Cargo Train Apparel (hopefully) by January 2015. Until then, I am focusing on the crucial steps I need to take in order to reach this massive goal; only this time around, it will be on my own terms, and not under the the controlling dictation of someone else.  ():-)

–After some time had passed, I later asked my ex-husband (after we regained our civility for the sake of our young daughter) why he did what he did, and his response….”I couldn’t accept having a wife more successful than me”  –My lips pressed together, I simply just nodded, and responded, “Ok”

Ridiculous!

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CTA IS OFFICIAL!!

CTA IS OFFICIAL!!

From years of dreaming and that single college-rule spiral bound notebook to this moment; I can’t begin to describe what I’m feeling, but one immense emotion I have at the moment is just pure gratitude to EVERY SINGLE ONE of my team members, mentors, customers, fans, supporters, and CTA cheerleaders that never allowed me, for a moment, to think that giving up was ever an option. After 2+ years of holding on to the dream, CTA officially becomes a reality. Let’s get to work!

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DEAR ABERCROMBIE CEO, MICHAEL JEFFRIES!!!!

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YES….  I have HATED Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO Michael Jeffries’s for many years now, not only for his ideology on his target market;  the all american, good-looking kid, but his audacity to attempt to lead an entire company based on this.  Seriously?  I honestly don’t know how you, Mr. Jeffries, make money… oh wait….yes I do, allow me to lend my theory:

 You over inflate your position, placement and price points in the fashion world in order to compensate for your “uglier” inadequacies (you know what I mean).  You make money by ATTEMPTING to make others feel inferior to your greed-driven  and smug ways.  Well dear sir, you have met your match.  I am a commoner, but no ordinary commoner, and try to remember that you USED to be one too, no matter how long ago it was that you sold your soul and sanity to bad plastic surgery. 

We ALL have stories, we ALL have been through the hardships that life that has had no hesitation throwing at us. Where the fuck do you get off thinking that you are truly any different or better for that matter?  Your current position as CEO (for now…) is one that is built off of the same “bully” tactics that I endured for years, and that I witness others enduring everyday.  People like me don’t get sad and feel bad about the sadistic comments you make, oh no….we truly get pissed off to a degree to where you turn us into activist that will do everything in our power to knock you straight off your self-built tower of bullshit, and OUT of the lifestyle you have grown so very fond of (half-naked male models and private jets); all of which  you truly do not deserve the privilege of having…..EVER!

You know the saying “power in numbers”? Well,  I hope your microscopic target market can help save your job from what could be coming your way if you continue your self-destructive path as a fashion professional and lack of basic humanity towards others.  

Social media gives those you hate a voice, and some of those voices are MUCH LOUDER than yours.  So do not dare think you are the messiah of fashion and apparel, when you are simply just a self-glorified image whore that will be used for whatever it is you are worth, and once your “good-looking” society no longer finds YOU attractive, you will be on the bread line begging….broke and alone!  

So better jump-start your savings account now, because when I get done with you, you are definitely going to be needing all the fucking help you can get. YOU don’t get to decide who is hot and who is not.   That power will always belong to the  SAME people you hate.  REMEMBER THAT!

 

ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

M. Vargas –  Your worst nightmare.

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ARCH GRANTS LOCATION CONFLICT

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OK… UPDATE ON ARCH GRANT PROCESS….THERE’S ONE LITTLE PROBLEM…..

I emailed the committee through their website requesting permission to submit my business as a valid entry even though it wouldn’t be located within Downtown St. Louis, but IS still located within the city limits. I have yet to receive a decision…so I am currently stuck in limbo, but I am not stopping any momentum I am trying to build up.  I am continuing on as I have been for the past year, and hopefully will get a big thumbs up…soon. There are major reasons why I want to launch outside of downtown; which I expressed my main ones through my email to the Arch Grants, and wanted to express in a little more detail why I don’t feel downtown is the best market to consider at this time (not to exclude it completely from future local expansion plans)

1.) Limited pedestrian traffic, and limited vehicle traffic. — Yes, this area is rebuilding and rebounding, which is awesome and amazing, but it hasn’t yet hit it’s peak, and there is no guarantee that, once it is completed, that it will pull people back to the downtown area.  My business could actually have a GREATER chance of FAILING by simply having to “wait and see” if the area does in fact, rebound.  Currently,  I don’t see a lot of daytime traffic (pedestrian or vehicle) outside of Washington Ave. and Market St.  And even then, it is only certain blocks on Wash Ave and Market that would make it a viable market for my company.

I don’t have the time to wait for my target market to come to me, nor, do I have the extra finances to invest in additional marketing, advertising, and enticing promotions.  I have to go to them….SIMPLE!  I find locations that ALREADY have the pedestrian and vehicle traffic established, in combination with, my customer demographics. Downtown, currently, is a POSSIBLE market, but not appropriate for my action plan at this time…unfortunately.

2.) Not exactly an open market….anymore — My initial excitement about launching in downtown was the fact that it was an open market opportunity.  There were no current resale providers (with a positive public image) within the area. However, last June, MOV clothing store launched at Washington and 13th. (My Round 1 Arch Grant submission last Feb/March listed CTA’s location to be at or near Washington and 4th) One of my stronger advantages is locating open or under-served locations, and as closely located to my target market as physically possible. It’s having that “head-start” in building the company’s customer/client loyalty that will be a big factor in CTA’s overall sustainability, and most importantly, being EASILY ACCESSIBLE to my customers and clients.  I welcome the competition, but there are big perks in being first!

St. Louis (as a whole) is a very business-loyal community.  If you execute your business correctly, you will have loyal customers for life — FOR EXAMPLE:  The Coffee Cartel  (located at Euclid and Maryland in the CWE) is a single location, and yet, their customers and associates are so die-hard loyal that this one little St. Louis coffee shop put big ‘ol Starbucks (which was located across the street) out of business.

3.) Crime in downtown – Being a police dispatcher for areas bordering with St. Louis City, I hear of a lot more that goes on than what most St. Louis residents and businesses know of.  Most crimes never make it to the evening news, and my confidence is still insecure for a few different reasons that I can’t currently disclose of at this time (professional/political conflict of interest) but they are compelling.

4.) Target market conflict – Like I said before, my business needs to be located as close to my customers  as possible.  This is one of my marketing strategies that will greatly increase my appeal to my customers, the flow of customer traffic into the store, and provide me with an endless supply of potential employees.  I do not have this advantage if I launch in downtown right now. The building I have picked out to become my “living business model” has a large concentration of my target market located right across the street, and directly next door….no joke. This is an area that most in my position could only dream of having, and yet, here I am, looking at the big FOR SALE sign on the building and dying a bit inside by truly knowing its full potential.

……I am really hoping that they will accept my business submission, and that I will be able to confidently pursue the competition! Right now, only time will tell.

–FIN

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To Whom It May Concern:

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You have to take negative situations and find a way to turn them into positive solutions, and I feel that this has been accomplished by dedicating many years into designing a company that has a simple, yet powerful, mission statement — Unite first class with secondhand.

This letter is to provide you with an insight of what we do, what we plan to accomplish, our current projects and efforts, and most importantly, how we plan to become an established brand and a recognized leader within this booming industry.

We have all felt the financial crisis affect each of our lives in one way or another, including myself, regardless of: social status, financial situation, or educational background. Everyone from the struggling college student to leaders of local Fortune 500 companies; we’ve all had to take a step back to reevaluate our own unique challenges, and begin to utilize more cost-conscious decisions as consumers, as well as, business owners. This company is designed to do just that without the need to sacrifice quality, service or value to our customers, and doing so, in a cost-conscious and sustainable manner.

Cargo Train is an apparel exchange company, privately owned, that offers clients and guests to: buy, sell, trade, and consign a wide-range of new and pre-owned, designer and name-brand merchandise, such as: clothing, fashion accessories, jewelry and select interior decor items at industry competitive prices. What we do is nothing new, but HOW we plan to utilize our resources and network, will clearly set Cargo Train apart from local competitors.

If you are unfamiliar to the resale industry, these types of businesses are commonly known as “thrift” or “secondhand” stores; however, Cargo Train is designed to be much more than this common ideology, and even more, we strive to be the first resale provider of its kind offered to the residents and visitors of our target location. It would not only be a great addition to the resale industry, but more importantly, a great addition to the City of St. Louis due to its focus on community engagement, That will benefit, not only our clients and customers, but several local charities and non-profit organizations. We are a company that continues to create innovative ideas that give back to our communities and actively pursues a ‘pay it forward’ attitude.

As I continue to publicly promote this company through the means of several social media platforms, local news publications, word-of-mouth advertising, and launching an informational website, my biggest challenge is locating a strong financial partner and/or investor(s) to secure start-up capitol, and take this company to the next level in its physical and social developments.

My strategies are primarily based on direct observations and market research from a vast background working for top private retail labels, including global retail giant, Hennes and Mauritz (H&M); where I focused my time in the areas of: visual merchandising, loss prevention, customer relations, and employee growth.

The location I have chosen is based upon on-site, real-time area analysis collected over a time span of three (3) years; with a heavy focus on high volume pedestrian traffic. All aspects of the primary location offer the most idealistic conditions that will make Cargo Train a successful venture, and offer the future opportunity to aggressively expand through out the Midwest region.

I have further discovered through my research, the primary location I have selected is found to be an open market opportunity. There are currently no known competitors that specialize in apparel exchange within a 5 mile radius of where Cargo Train will be located.

Again, this venture is time sensitive, and taking advantage of the open market availability will quickly set Cargo Train’s foundation within the City of St. Louis and officially become part of a 13 billion dollar industry. I strongly urge interested persons to contact me for further information about how I plan to make this company an innovative success.

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Insomnia – The Good Kind

I CAN’T SLEEP.  Most of the time I would be getting pissed right about now, complaining about a day that hasn’t happened yet, however, some of my insomnia nights are very beneficial to me.  I can’t sleep because I have millions of idea running through my head, and can’t seem to shut them off. So as I know one way to suppress them, is to write.

 

Now I understand why one of my lead  adviser told me to keep a pen and paper near by me at all times.  A Laptop will have to suffice.

ANYWAY….

I literally dream and visualize my entire company.  I see my company having multiple stores, and I know exactly how I would accomplish that. My strategies and how they would make me unique in the industry.  I can see the steps that I have to take to get exactly where I want my company to be. I know what I will have to sacrifice, but keeping myself focused on the ultimate goal doesn’t make them feel like sacrifices simply because; my company is worth it.  I honestly can’t visualize myself doing anything else for the next 20-35 years.  This is it.

If I can cross paths with a handful of other people that share my intensity for business and fashion.  This company would dominate the St.Louis-Midwest region.  Finding others like myself is proving to be a little more difficult than I imagined, but I know they are out there.  Just a matter of time.  So until then,  I will keep building what I can to get myself closer to where I want to be. 

Ultimate goal:  Be the leading branded chain-resale merchandise provider within a 50 mile radius of St. Louis.  (Give Plato’s Closet some healthy competition) 

 

 

BRING IT ON!

():-)

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My negative into a positive

I was talking to a friend of mine who happens to be a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) based out of Florida, and he had asked how my venture was going since the Arch Grant small biz competition back in March of this year. I was happy to tell him I was still fighting for it, and then told him the unfortunate news of another entrepreneur beating me to the open market in downtown. Our conversation followed:

Nick: Any luck on the storefront?

Me: Nothing secured yet [financial partner] but the interest is growing from social media

Nick: Very Good!

Me: But my time is running out, the launch in downtown showed me that A.) I have a solid concept and B.) people are starting to listening. I have one more effing GOLDEN location left. Wash Ave, was my second choice, not my primary

Me: I’m not stupid 😛

Nick: Good

Me: I need a financial partner. Someone who is as crazy and passionate as I am, which is pretty extreme. And I can’t find one….not one 😦

Nick: LOL it’s tough to find someone with money

Me: I have friends with money

Nick: Good

Me: They just don’t have my intensity for this business :-/

Nick: oh ok

Me: Motivating some people is like carrying a 400lbs woman….HARD!!! That’s why I am generating the public interest, show future partners the impact this place will have on STL

Me: Im stuck!

Nick: Yes 😦

Me: Help me get unstuck, find me a financial partner

Nick: How much do you need this partner to invest?

Me: $20K to launch, profits in as little as 6 months, 99% recession proof – when the economy sucks, my business booms 🙂

Nick: I’ll see what I can do.

Me: [trying to keep it cool, calm and collected] OK!!! 😀 THANK YOU!!!! [didnt work, I was beyond excited]

It’s nothing definite…..yet, but it’s a step closer than where I was before. Nick has connections that I don’t have. His background is solid and professional reputation is strong. It means the world to me that he would put his own reputation on the line for my business, huge compliment!

And Nick isn’t the only one actively searching for financial partners to work with me 😀 My army is growing….

I WILL LAUNCH THIS COMPANY!!!!

():-)

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