Sarmiento Takes Retail off the Beaten Path
It was twenty-eight years ago that Shelley Sarmiento “accidentally” began working in the retail industry. After a chance encounter with a friend of a friend who was about to launch White House Black Market, Sarmiento stepped up as the company’s Executive Vice President and Co-Owner. Sarmiento attributes her success to chance, but after getting to know her, it’s clear that her knack for startups and her zest for adventure has a lot to do with it.
Sarmiento’s entrepreneurial qualities are as vibrant as ever. She completed certificates through FIT’s Center for Professional Studies, currently teaches a course there, and launched Little White Fashion Truck last year. She was on her way to Nashville when we caught up with her to talk about returning to college and what the road ahead looks like for her business.
You’ve had a successful career in retail. Why did you decide to return to school?
I decided I wanted to go back to school to learn about aspects of the industry that I love but never had time to explore. FIT offered courses that covered areas I had the least exposure to on a daily basis, such as hands-on design and garment construction. I am also an education fanatic and crave knowledge by nature!
And now you’re sharing your knowledge with students as an FIT instructor. What’s that experience like?
I took Professor Jaye Edelstein’s class several years ago and she approached me and asked if I might be interested in teaching at FIT. I was overwhelmed by the honor. Teaching at FIT is a great privilege and I absolutely love each and every second of it. The students at FIT epitomize invention and creativity and having the honor of being part of their great journeys is something I am very proud of.
How did the idea of launching a mobile boutique come about?
I was commuting from Maryland to NYC and working 3-4 four days a week out of town and spending way too much time away from my teenage daughters. I simply needed to be closer to home. I used to stand in line for grilled cheese at the “Grilled Cheese Foodtruck” in New York and it inspired me to buy a bread truck off of Craig’s List and start a mobile Fashion Boutique.
Those are great inspirations! When did you launch?
I launched Little White Fashion Truck about a year ago and we now have two trucks on the road and third scheduled to open for June. My mobile journey is innovative, successful, proﬁtable, and so much fun. Little White Fashion Truck uses social media to market itself and to developing our very own Truck Culture!
Where are the trucks currently stationed?
I presently have Little White Fashion Trucks on the road in Maryland, DC/NoVa with my Nashville Truck scheduled to debut in June. I have plans to launch ten trucks by year’s end.
What aspect of being mobile as a boutique do you love most?
My favorite aspect of Little White Fashion Truck is everything! We are an innovative concept that has uncharted potential and we get to meet the best people each and every day.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have many treasures in my life: I am engaged to Derek St. Holmes, who’s the lead singer and guitarist for Ted Nugent. I have two beautiful daughters, Sophie and Ivy. I have my best friend, Nash, a 180 lb. Mastiff puppy. I have my two miniature donkeys, Cowboy and Sunny. I simply have the greatest support system and coolest family ever. I am just so grateful for their love and never ending support for my crazy vision and intense ambition!
What is a little-known fact about you?
Probably the only little-known fact about me is that I aspire to one day retire on my ranch in Nashville and ﬁnally learn to play the guitar. I have been working on this behind closed doors for about ﬁve years and I really enjoy it. I am horrible at it!
Something tells us you’ll nail the guitar in no time! What advice would you give to those pursuing their wildest dreams?
No idea is a bad idea. Live your passion. Don’t be happy just talking about it. We are all born average and any effort made above this is extraordinary. Just ﬁgure out how extraordinary you want to be and go for it!
For more information about FIT’s Center for Professional Studies, please visit their website.