Before I was even brought into the tribe of Jersey City business owners, I was familiar with Meika and Warren. As a child I would go vintage shopping with my mother and always had a room decked out with images and tokens of the past. I discovered Another Man's Treasure almost immediately after crashing on my sister's couch 5 years ago. You could see and feel the passion they had for the business every time you walked through the doors of their Grove Street store. I am willing to bet that at this moment 70% of my closet is because of them. I even found the perfect vintage pink prom dress for my opening there.
When I first started collaborating with other business owners to get my name and brand out, I reached out to Meika, who like always was eager to help out in any way they could. The salon hosted a pop up event in collaboration with AMT's Spring Trunk Show and offered quick vintage hair and make up services. It was so exciting to see people believe in my vision and want to support it, too.
Meika and Warren are a true pillar in the small business community in Jersey City; they opened their store during a time many businesses were closing shop because of the recession. Through their passion and love for their business, family, and each other, they have proven that hard work and good souls lead to success.
What's your name and what do you do?
Meika Franz and I run Another Man's Treasure.
Warren Franz and I do whatever Meika tells me to do. I'm the co-pilot, but I'm not a "yes man;" I'm there to aid in the mission of Meika.
What does being a boss mean?
Warren: For me it's different than what it means to Meika. I don't deal with the staff, I'm not the "boss of people." I've always struggled to do things any way other than "my way," and being a boss means I'm able to do things the way I want. Not to say that's always the right way, but it's mine.
Meika: A leader inspiring others even when you're feeling weak; you have to be strong and lead. Keep your head up, keep going and guide others.
What are you thankful for both personally and professionally?
Meika: Everything we have, and that we are able to do something we love. We share that passion and make a living off of that. I'm thankful for Biba and Warren and for having each other.
Warren: To do something that I love, and that's everything! To sustain life, to support our daughter, our mortgage, our dogs, and our employees. And that we are in a community where we can do that. Main Street is dead in other communities - when we travel we make a point to support small businesses and vintage stores. The fact that people want local business to thrive, I am so thankful for. People are putting their money where their mouth is.
I'm thankful to be in a community that is conducive to small businesses. Our product doesn't fly for everyone and people get that here. Right before the 2008 recession, so many businesses wouldn't have made it and Jersey City was one of the few areas of the country where people continued and will continue to shop local. The community didn't stop supporting us and that's a true testament.
What are the struggles of being a business owner?
Meika: Staff management. You create this baby and I'm very passionate about what it is I do. This is my first baby and no one can love it like you do. I can't be everything and in the store all the time and it's finding the right people that share our passion.
Behind the scenes I'm cleaning, fixing clothing, and trying to find the time to do the necessary upkeep of running a vintage shop. Balancing the finances is always a struggle - you can't find the pieces you need when you want them and you are constantly juggling the need for extra space to keep a solid inventory when you do find it.
We have international clients, movies, television, and vintage shows that help spread our cash flow net a little wider. It works, but it's a hustle and you have to believe somehow that it will all work out.
Warren: I'm a logical thinker and focus on the end of the month. There is year to year growth and it has it's ups and downs. The biggest challenge is the unpredictability. Who is going to walk in this week and who's paying the bills.
Retail never gets easier, you will always be hustling. It doesn't matter that we've been in business 12 years, you can't sit back on your laurels.
What are the benefits of being a business owner?
Meika: Running your own business you have the ability set your own schedule, but that can be a double edged sword. You have some flexibility and that allows me to pick up Biba everyday from school. You get what you give.
Something really rewarding about being a business owner is when someone validates you. We are able to fulfill our passion! Having a low carbon footprint is important to me - this is my cause to fight and the fact that I can contribute to that with my business into the rest of the world is amazing.
How to you define success?
Warren: When you're working a holiday market in town and a guy walks up to and tells you he LOVES your shop. He's buying into what I'm doing and saying it aloud - THAT makes my life better. Feeling acknowledged for all your efforts, hard work, and sacrifice. When someone tags us on social media. Being able to do what we do. Being happy with that. Knowing that there is no such thing as just happiness - it's an ongoing journey. It's those little things that define success. Not just on a scale of the evolution of a person or business but the fact that these experiences make us better at what we do. Every year the store is getting better.
Meika: That growth and those moments when you can say "I made this dream come true." Even if I failed, I made my vision into a reality - I could walk away and say I was successful.
How do you keep balance?
It's very difficult to not bring home our work issues and we don't want our daughter to see that. We turn it off and we try not to let it stress us out and affect our home life, and you have to find the right balance of time for you. If you let it, it can take up every second of your day. A five year old needs a lot of attention! If you are feeding one more than the other, the other fails. She needs attention and mommy time and her actions are justifiable - it's about constantly balancing.
We have family day on Sunday. We start our day at 6:30am and our store doesn't close until 8:30pm, and when you are a parent there is no time off. You don't want to put her in front of a TV, you want to engage and be present.
You have to learn to ride the waves. It's not about taking shelter from the storm, but learning to dance in the rain.
Make sure time is spent preciously.
It's hard for us as a couple; we give all of our extra time to Biba, but we have plenty of opportunities to make up for it. We go out to local events - business is our social life.
We are in a very competitive area, we have built relationships and we are valued as a company; we have a good reputation. People want to deal with us and they know they won't be nickeled and dimed.
What advice do you have for hopeful business owners?
Find something you love.
You have to be passionate.
I've seen so many places come and go and they think "Oh this looks easy!"
If you aren't passionate, this will not work. It's a labor of love and you need to be ready to make sacrifices. Don't do it until you are ready to not be selfish. You have to be able to give up things for yourself. You have to feed the machine.
There will be highs and lows. You have to have a positive outlook and keep dusting yourself off.
Focus on what you're doing and don't worry about what anyone else is doing or saying. The minute you start looking around, you will start comparing yourself in a negative way. Worry about what you're doing and you'll be just fine. Always have faith - you have to believe.
When you are ready - they will be there.
Warren: Toot your own horn. I'm really good at this: it's completely dead (I could be down on myself) but I'm getting loads of stuff done. Someone is giving me this down time to get this stuff done and then when people walk through the door tomorrow they will come in and the store will look awesome.
People can feel your energy about everything and you need to be ready.
You get out what you put in. Think "why is this not working?" and make it work.
Get off your fucking ass and do something about it!
I had this empower hour at the beginning of December, before the holiday rush and the change that comes with the new year. I was finally able to sit down (while also getting my hair done) and finish this piece. I really needed it today.
Warren and Meika are really two of the best people in this town and I could write an inspiring business start up book just based around conversations I have with them. Their passion for their business is infectious and I strive to find the success they have in both their professional and personal lives. They encourage me to find that balance. I will look back on this post when I need a good pep talk. :)
As an avid vintage enthusiast myself, I love having them so close to the salon. I love finding one of a kind pieces that inspire my own personal look. Shopping vintage is environmentally smart and you get to look fabulous while doing something good for the world. Shop local and support this wonderful shop!