Tammy Osborne’s journey from an old church bus to a thriving boutique is a testament to her creativity, resilience, and love for her Southern roots.
Feathered Darlin’ boutique is not just a mobile store; it is a celebration of Southern culture and style.
What inspired you to transform an old church bus into a boutique?
I began my online boutique in August 2020, with my goal being to eventually open a brick and mortar. However, after attending several events (with a tent) and doing really well, I realized that it made more sense to take my business to where the people were instead of waiting for people to come to me. I noticed a lot of vendors bringing their products to events in trailers, but I’ve always pushed the creative boundaries a bit, so I started looking at old school buses. I repurposed and sold furniture for several years, so the desire to breathe new life into something that most people would write off was ingrained in me. I was also envisioning customers not just coming in to buy clothes but having a unique shopping experience that they wouldn’t forget.
What were the challenges you faced during the transformation process?
There is definitely no rule book for converting a bus into a commercial space. My husband and I did the conversion on our own because we had no room in the budget for outside help. There was a lot of time spent watching videos of buses converted into tiny homes to get a general idea of how to make it simply functional, then honestly making the rest up as we went along. Every weekend for four months was dedicated to the renovation, with the biggest hurdles being windows that kept leaking, determining how to build an arched wall for the dressing room, and figuring out a layout that would allow the best flow for customers. There were times when it all became overwhelming, but I kept focused on the end result.
How did you curate your boutique’s collection to reflect Southern culture with a touch of Boho-Chic?
I had a vision of my ideal customer. She is a southern woman, of course, who feels her best in outfits that fuse together comfort, style and a bit of free-spiritedness and can be worn anywhere, from a wedding to a country music festival. I look for items that make it easy to pull together an effortless look but are still unique, by combining that feminine and flowy southern style with a bit of fringe, lace or crochet, then adding in some layered jewelry and maybe a felt hat as the exclamation point to her outfit.
How has your boutique impacted the local community?
I recently opened the bus up to private bookings. For example, a local hair salon reserved the bus for a customer appreciation event that gave customers and salon employees the opportunity to socialize in a different way. I’ve also taken the bus to private residences where the hostess and her guests have the chance to shop at their own pace. The takeaway for me at these private events is how comfortable these women feel in an intimate and fun atmosphere. They step out of their style comfort zone and try something new. All the while, being encouraged and hyped up by their friends, coworkers, and other guests. It feels like I’m giving them a space where they can find confidence in navigating outside of the style norms and exploring that free spirit that I think lies in all of us. It’s a bonding experience for sure, and those are the moments when I love what I am doing with this small business.