How a Heat Wave Inspired a Million Dollar Business


Before I started ModestPop back in 2012, I didn't particularly like what was in my closet. I was in a wardrobe funk so to speak. We had a very limited budget. My husband was a recent law school grad and the jobs were slim pickings. We were also in the middle of the recession. I'm sure some of you in my age bracket (I'm 36 but seriously subconsciously think I'm still 27) can relate to trying to springboard a career during the recession. Not really a time where having a great closet was the biggest priority. 

What I had done to get excited about my wardrobe was work with a stylist friend who helped me pair things together that I would have never thought of before to create "new" exciting outfits. Along with making new outfits we found accessories I wasn't using and added those so it felt fresh and fun. And then she helped me make a list of basic essentials I needed to slowly add over time to have the capability to make lots of other outfits, like solid jewel toned tees that matched most of my skirts and layering pieces like a denim jacket to add structure and variety.

I even made a dream board around this time with exciting places I wanted to someday travel to, but I saved a spot on the dream board for modest fashion. I wanted to feel more excited about my clothes so I put a picture I clipped out of a magazine of a model in a really cute modest outfit, an advertisement for a clothing company, and glued it to my board. I wanted to dress cuter and wasn't sure how I was going to do it, but I thought I'd put it out there and keep my eyes open.

Around the same time I was obsessed with the TV show Shark Tank. Not just like someone who enjoyed the show, watching people pitch their business deals to the investors every episode, but I even contacted the show after they announced they were canceling the second season to convince them to keep it going. I'm pretty sure I did that twice! Nerd alert! I just wanted to keep my source of business inspiration flowing in my life, because I thought being an entrepreneur would be so cool and I was just waiting for an amazing idea to come to me. 

I expected my amazing idea to be something novel, something that solved a problem nobody else had thought of. I didn't expect my business to be clothing. But in 2012 there was a bad three  week long heat wave that hit Southern California where we lived and I had a problem. The style at the time, even among "modest" clothing stores, was the deep v-necks or otherwise plunging necklines that required a camisole or tank underneath for layering. Layering was VERY trendy at the time, which was definitely conducive to modest dressing but was NOT a fun way to live when it was 90 degrees inside your apartment and even your parent's house which was much more open and usually in a breezier location was 85 degrees inside. And did I mention no air conditioning? Not that CA doesn't believe in air conditioning, it's just that most of the houses and apartments weren't built with them because we lived 2 miles from the beach. It never got that hot so we didn't need it. Until it did. And it was so unbearable looking through my closet realizing almost every shirt I had required layering. 

I thought, someone needs to come up with a clothing company that specializes in modest shirts that DON'T need to be layered. Layering was so trendy it was seriously tough to find that. That thought bugged me for about a week. How come nobody had done that yet? Why wasn't that easier to find? 

After about a week of being annoyed and exasperated it dawned on me that that someone could be me. After all, I did have a wholesale license to sell clothes because the year before I had bought clothing wholesale to sell at holiday boutiques. It was just a seasonal thing that I did though. I didn't have amazing success so I didn't think more would come of it. After a couple days of toying with the thought in my mind of starting up a website, lots of ideas just started flowing. And when I started doing research on how to build a website and where to get inventory from, everything was clicking and feeling really natural and easy. It kind of just felt right. That was the easy part. The hard part was convincing my patient husband that THIS was a great idea even though I was working as an apartment manager and we had two small kids. He caved when he realized I wasn't really asking him for permission, just telling him how great it would be. He's always given me wings to fly, he's been really great in that way. 

family photo

Our family circa 2012

My original goal was just to supply modest shirts. I was lucky enough to find a wholesaler that had amazing deals. Now that I look back, it was probably because it was August and the end of summer deals were happening. I wanted to do something really crazy on launch day to get a lot of attention on the website and to create some buzz on social media. So I decided to only charge $10 for each shirt. They were normally going to retail for $15, but for launch day I advertised $10 per top and had about seven different options. 

Launch day, August 31, 2012, I sold 28 tops and was elated. It wasn't a ton of money but I had proven a concept that people were looking for modest tops and modest clothing in general and felt my pain that they weren't easily available. 

Everything didn't just go perfectly from there, business wise. I didn't always know where to source modest clothes at wholesale prices from and I had to ditch my basic homemade website after a couple months to create something more professional. I also initially had trouble sourcing modest dresses and skirts. Since then there a lot more wholesale options for modesty in general, so it's worked out, but there's definitely been some bumps in the road.

If you've read this far, you are a superstar and deserve a coupon code, so you can use the code 20FORME for 20% off storewide. 

Anyway, the last seven years have been a wild ride in business ownership and I'm definitely grateful for all the amazing customers who have been with me along the way. We have recently hit over a million in sales just from this website! (I have also run sales through Facebook, check out my group here). Whether you've shopped with us multiple times, just once, or simply follow us on social media, THANK YOU!!! We are here to serve you and couldn't do it without you.

One of the best rewards of this business are getting emails from customers who had struggled with the same problem I did back in 2012 when I started ModestPop. A customer named Rebecca once wrote: "thank you have having modest clothes that are SO hard to find!" We regularly receive emails like this, especially from teachers who are constantly looking for modest clothing to wear to work and people getting ready to go on missions because their work requires modest clothing as well. We also give discounts to teachers and missionaries, so get in touch if that applies to you!

I had no idea when that heat wave hit that seven years later I'd still be doing a business that I love. Something that originated from overheating in my Costa Mesa apartment, ha! When we started we had two small kids ages three and one. Now we have five kids ages ten to 5 months old and live in Northern Utah.

To celebrate these last seven years, we will soon be doing a $10 tee sale, so make sure to keep an eye on our social media accounts (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram) to get alerted!

Thanks for joining us on this wild ride. We can't wait to see what the next seven years brings!


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