There is no question that Laura “Lola” Tingwall has an eye for style. So when this budding entrepreneur decided to start her business, she created every girl’s dream; a mobile closet.
Nicknamed “Lola” from Barry Manilow’s song “Copacabana,” the Massapequa Park native – who turns 27 this November – is no stranger to the design circuit. Enter Lola’s Lookbook.
“I’ve always been interested in business and like most women, I love to shop and I love fashion,” said Tingwall, who holds a Bachelor’s degree from LIM College in New York City. “I got a ton of hands on experience there; I even got to intern in the fashion closet of Harper’s Bazaar magazine.”
Although Tingwall had a dream to own her own boutique, she lacked the capital to start one.
“I began working on the concept of Lola’s Lookbook in February of 2013; getting shipments of clothing to start selling at street fairs by just using rolling racks and mannequins,” said Tingwall, who started selling clothes in June of that year.
When she made the decision to quit her job at Bridal Reflections and lose a stable paycheck, Tingwall’s family was right there with her.
“I knew if I wanted to grow Lola, it needed my undivided attention,” said Tingwall. “I’m lucky to have such a loving and supportive family and friends who support my dream, especially my boyfriend, Sal. I don’t have any employees, but if I need a hand people are always there to help,” she continued.
As for the truck, it was actually Tingwall’s father’s idea. After researching the notion and discovering other companies, including high end retailers and designers were doing it, Tingwall’s decision was made.
“If people could have food trucks, why not fashion trucks?” said Tingwall. “I am one of the first fashion trucks on Long Island, but the east coast is catching on.” Lola’s Lookbook travels all over Long Island for parties, fairs and events; and yes, Tingwall drives the truck herself.
What was once an old, white Hostess truck, quickly became a stylish clothing carrier. Tingwall purchased the truck from a used car dealer, cupcake racks and all, and decided to hire a contractor to execute her vision.
“I did a lot of research; looking at colors, fixtures, and what would make the space look more open,” said Tingwall. “I wanted it to be warm and inviting and for customers to forget that they are actually in a truck,” she said of the interior, which is about the size of a dream walk-in closet and simply designed, allowing the clothing to shine. As for the exterior, Tingwall hired a graphic designer to create a vinyl wrap for the truck.
Currently, Tingwall is based out of her house in Massapequa Park, but is opening a showroom this October in Amityville.
“Sales have been increasing and people are really receptive,” she said, adding that home parties are a big portion of her business. “It’s refreshing for people who want a new option for a party, especially when the clothes can come to them.”
In her role as a buyer, Tingwall is responsible for making all purchases for her store and attends a market four times a year to view designers’ collections.
“It’s kind of like going to a really huge mall, but strictly for shops and boutiques. You get to feel the fabrics and try things on before you buy them,” she said.
Lola’s Lookbook currently has about 25 different brands of clothing. Tingwall places her orders months in advance and goes wither gut feeling when compiling garments to sell.
“If I like something or think my clients will like it, I’ll order it,” said Tingwall, who also keeps on top of trends, reads fashion magazines and listens to helpful feedback from clients. “I try to buy for everyone; the stay at home mom, the girl who works in the city, young girls going out on the town. I think I carry a great variety,” she said.
Tingwall is extremely excited about the opening of her showroom next month, and plans on having the store open full-time while using the truck for promotions and parties.
“I can’t wait to have a desk!” said Tingwall, elated at the fact that she will finally have a separate space to work. “Customers can come to the showroom to pick up orders and shop when the truck isn’t out. It will also come in handy in the off season when the weather is colder.”
For now, Tingwall plans on keeping Lola’s Lookbook on Long Island, as it is the place where her dream became a reality. She plans on hiring help at the store, but will continue to play a pivotal role in her business, which will be celebrating its one year anniversary in November.
“I usually do a fair every weekend and host plenty of parties during weeknights,” said Tingwall. “I’ve done fashion shows in the past to showcase my fall and spring collections, and received great response. I hope to have another one soon, so stay tuned!”
To shop for fashion, book a party, or to find out where Lola’s Lookbook is going to be visit www.lolaslookbook.com.