I chose to interview Nadeen who is the small business owner of Gift and Thrift. She handles the marketing aspect of her job as well and she also does marketing on the side for clients. Gift and Thrift is not your typical gift shop. They create events for people of all ages from markets with local vendors to weekend concert shows. One of the reasons for her creating markets and concerts is that it attracts consumers, meaning more foot traffic not just for her shop but also for the vendors in the shop and the businesses in Downtown Mesa. Another main reason for creating these events is to bring people together after social distancing for so long, especially those under the age of 21, and create a space for artists.
As I’ve mentioned before, I know her briefly from attending her events and participating as a vendor. When I asked her about her marketing strategy, she mentioned that she focuses on advertising her events in Mesa. She prints posters and runs ads within 5 miles of Mesa. Her target market is people between the ages of 13 and 37. The first task she focuses on is promoting to the vendors including past vendors she starts by making a flyer which she sends to her vendors first. After promoting to her vendors, she will make another flyer to promote on social media for people to attend. As far as her concerts, once she knows the lineup of the concerts she will update her website and put the events on her website, and then start posting and advertising the shows on social media to her target market. I asked her how she manages to do all of these tasks and she says that she uses the time-blocking method to make sure that she doesn’t miss anything. She uses her calendar as well to use less brain power by keeping a list of tasks that has to be done somewhere else. I didn’t fully understand how big a role marketing plays in her business, specifically in somewhere like Arizona where there aren’t a lot of events for people of all ages. I found this very fascinating, and it sounds like a full-time job on its own and just marketing her business but then again, that is her job, because if she didn’t have people to attend the events, then no one would profit.
Something that surprised me after speaking with her was when she spoke about the hardest part of running her business. The band playing the show or the vendors at the markets all play their parts, but that’s all they know. Nadeen and her husband Steven, who helps her set up during events among other things, are the only ones who know all of the parts of the puzzle to make that event happen. She finds this aspect of her job to be lonely. But once it all comes together she finds that the most rewarding part is the people and seeing people create memories. The simple idea that she got to play a part in giving people the space in which they create memories is special to her. When I asked what her biggest inspiration was, she was always mentioning her kids. She wants her kids to grow up and do something that makes them happy, and to look at all of the things that their parents did, the difference that they made in people’s lives or show them the importance of what it is to do something that makes you proud.
Honestly, I was very nervous. I’ve never interviewed anyone in my entire life nor have I ever wanted to. I think this is very insightful. She was the first person that I thought of interviewing. I didn’t want to pick a marketing executive from a company that had an office job. There is nothing wrong with an office job those are cool too. But I wanted to choose someone that would give me a chance to get a little more personal. I don’t show myself or my ideas to people. Naturally, I always connect everything to running but one thing I wish is that I was as confident in real life as I am when I’m running which is what I strive for. I just kind of stay in my lane and get things done. She was someone that I look up to even if it’s from a distance I look at her and I think wow she’s doing what I hope to do someday. I wanted to learn more about her job and what it takes and how she does it all. I briefly mentioned how I participated in the big pitch competition and how one of the judges told me that I was doing too much and that I should just focus on one thing during my presentation. And she said, “if anyone says that something is too much it’s because it’s too much for them.” That doesn’t mean you should change if it works for you within your own personal limits and goals then you should completely throw yourself into it.
I have a depop shop and one day I hope to open up my own vintage store/music venue which also is a coffee shop where people can hang out that has an art gallery but also has sex ed for the LGBTQ+ community and host many events as well as help every small business that I possibly can all at once. All of my favorite things are under one roof, and my main goal is to create a space where anyone of any sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, or background can feel accepted and encouraged to be creative. I wish to create a space I longed to have when I was younger. I feel that is something Nadeen and I have in common and one of the reasons I look up to her. I have never seen or come across someone let alone a woman who runs a business helping other small businesses thrive and who also cares about young people she found a way to turn all of the things she is passionate about into a career. All in all, I appreciate what she is doing I have a lot of respect for her and I hope to impact others in the way the same way she has impacted me.
When did Gift and thrift become more than a gift store?
A: We saw how the pandemic affected the younger people in our community. Once the world started opening up again we wanted to create events for people of all ages. To allow them to come together and make up for the lost time.
How do you generate new ideas? For events like Sunday Funday, Femme Fest, Emo Night…. Etc.…
A: I try to think of events I would have liked to go to when I was younger. Most of the events in Arizona are more for people over the age of 21 or the events serve alcohol so we wanted to market these events for people under 21.
Can you describe/outline your typical day?
A: I basically schedule my time around my kids I will wake up around 5:30/6 am and get the kids ready for school. By the time I am done, it is around 9 am I’ll go to a local coffee shop and start doing whatever I need to get done that day whether that is promoting events, posting on social media, focusing on upcoming events, responding to emails, contacting vendors, or updating flyers. I am currently working on getting some of our events sponsored I am working through a list of companies right now to see where they are at. I will work until dinner time spend time with my family and then continue working for a couple of hours after the kids are sleeping.
How many hours a day do you work on average?
A: I start working at about 9 am-5 pm and then again from 9 pm-12 pm around 10-12 hours
How has your job affected your family life?
A: My kids get to be a part of it which allows me to make more time for them. Understandably, sometimes they don’t want to be at concerts late at night those are the times when we will need to get a babysitter my mom watches our kids or sometimes, I will stay with them and just Steven will manage the event if it’s a small show.
How do you market your business/events, and which tactic has been most successful? Especially in somewhere like AZ, there are not that many things happening.
A: The first thing I do is create a flyer for vendors and I prioritize promoting the event to past vendors I will email them and let them know. Then I create a flyer that targets consumers and post that on social media and tag the downtown Mesa association. I will run ads within 5 miles of Mesa ages 13-37 and print out flyers. I will update our website as soon as an event is confirmed and I’ll do the same with concerts once we have a full line up I’ll put it on the website and once we are 2 weeks out from a concert I’ll start promoting the event on social media.
What are your plans for the future of Gift and Thrift?
A: I hope to get a bigger venue so that there is more room for our vendors.
If you had a chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A: We really started this with our own money but if I had the chance to start over again I would have crowdfunded or taken out a loan.
What motivates you? Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A: We were having a business meeting and we ended up talking about how cool it would be to have a street named after our family. There are a handful of streets named after people I would also like to have something that my kids can see and be proud of.
What is your favorite part of your job?
A: The people and creating memories. Seeing kids losing themselves at the concerts we have. It is also really cool to see how everything comes together in the end how it all works out is beyond me.
What is the hardest part about running a business?
A: Everyone has a part to play the bands do their shows and the vendors are doing their own thing. But sometimes it can be lonely. My husband and I are the only ones who know all of the moving parts and where everything goes and how things need to be done. We know how it started the idea and the plan with all of the details it feels like we are on our own for that part.
What is the most satisfying moment in your career?
A: At our last big event the Pride Market my second oldest daughter (she’s very shy), she ended up dancing in front of a crowd and I got to be a part of it. It made me really proud of her to see her come out of her shell and also proud of what we are doing in making events like these.
How do you define success?
A: That my kids are happy.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to wants to run a business involving many things?
A: Use your calendar for everything plan and time block that way you don’t miss anything. Without my planner, I couldn’t tell you my schedule it is all kept track of and stored on my calendar that way I use less brain power for things that don’t matter as much. I won’t worry about when everything is because it’s accounted for that way I can be present and creative. If anyone tells you you’re doing too much that means that it is too much for them.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given or a lesson you’ve learned?
A: My grandfather taught me about Buddhism briefly when I was going through something. The general idea is that life is suffering and once you learn to get past the suffering or not be surprised and let down by it, then you can truly live. I am not a religious person and neither is my grandfather but that idea has stuck with me. I think that we are bound to suffer or feel pain but you can’t allow yourself to stay there you have to find a way to go on and live your life, focusing on the joy.