Thoughtful Shopping with Style

Local Fashion Retailer Spotlight - Tin Lizzy

Written by Tamara Austin

I first met Laura Layton back in June at a fashion truck event on U Street. Her fun, bubbly personality is matched by her vibrant mobile boutique and its amazing mission. With today's fast fashion, it's easy to overlook the story behind what we wear. Tin Lizzy challenges this with its emphasis on thoughtful shopping. The OpenStile Retailer Spotlight series highlights local shops that enhance the DC area fashion scene. I couldn't think of a better retailer to kick off the series than Tin Lizzy. Check out our conversation with Laura and I'm sure you'll see why!

What inspired you to start Tin Lizzy?

There tends to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding the words "fair trade" and fair trade retail stores tend to all look very similar in an ethnic, gift shop-y way which is great but I wanted to create a store full of ethically sourced goods that targeted a different shopper. With Tin Lizzy, I wanted to make shopping for ethical goods easy and fun and make the transition from shopping at popular retailers to an ethically sourced retailer an easy one, without compromising anyone's style or budget. It can be really difficult to find responsibly sourced clothing and accessories in a sea of big box, fast fashion retailers. Tin Lizzy is a trusted source for those looking for unique pieces that don't have you worrying about who was harmed in the process.

How would you describe the Tin Lizzy brand?

Tin Lizzy is all about quality, handmade items in a unique shopping experience. Tin Lizzy's clothing tends to be colorful and printed with some basics mixed in. I also carry a ton of really unique jewelry pieces, basics like organic cotton leggings and tees, and staple pieces like brightly colored flats and handmade leather bags. The interior of the truck has a very homey feel with light aqua walls, hardwood floors, and displays that I made from upcycled items. Tin Lizzy is all about "thoughtful shopping" which is my way of summing up responsibly sourced items- fair trade, made of sustainable or recycled materials, made by a local artist. Everything in the shop has a story behind it and for every piece of merchandise in the truck, I can tell you the materials it's made of, where it's made, and under what conditions.

Why is "thoughtful shopping" important?

I think it's so important to ask questions about where your goods come from and know what your purchase of that item is supporting. If you aren't asking questions, it's easy to ignore the ugliness of fast fashion but it's important for consumers to see themselves as a part of a global supply chain and if you're paying too little for something, someone else is undoubtedly paying the price.

Why a mobile boutique?

The reason Tin Lizzy is a mobile boutique is simply because of my budget. I'm young, rent is high and mobile retail was much more accessible to me. Originally, being mobile was supposed to be a way for me to get my business plan off the ground on a budget but after my first weekend in the truck I was hooked. Being mobile makes my business so versatile and so much fun.

What do you love about the DMV area?

Living in the DMV area is awesome because I am so close to so many different communities. It's a lot of fun to take Tin Lizzy to different areas, meet different customers, and see the different reactions to the truck and the merchandise. One of my favorite local events is "Fashion Truck Friday" which is the first Friday of every month in Shirlington Village in Arlington. I set up with four other mobile retailers and we take up the whole block on Campbell Avenue. It's a lot of fun to park with other trucks and we tend to draw a crowd because each one is so unique with its own personality. It's fun for shoppers to be able to see the different ways the trucks are set up and the wide array of merchandise we offer.

So where can you find Laura and Tin Lizzy? She does weekly stops in Takoma Park, Edgewater, and Annapolis, and is frequently in Baltimore and DC on weekends. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram (@shoptinlizzy) to keep up with her daily whereabouts. Her event schedule can be found on her website where you can also shop her online store. Check her out and I'm sure you'll fall in love with her store as much as I have!

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