Dolly Parton, the most honored female country performer of all time, has influenced and inspired people all over the world and here in the New River Valley. Tammy Osborne, owner and founder of Feathereddarlin.com and Mobilene, the boutique bus, believes that sometimes you have to ask yourself: â€œWhat would Dolly do?â€ and listen for the answer.
â€œWell, she would dig her heels in and follow that dream in her heart,â€ Tammy relates. â€œDolly would say [and has said]: â€˜If you donâ€™t like the road youâ€™re walking, start paving another one.â€™â€
Online Shop and Mobile Idea
With the goal of a bricks-and-mortar retail store, Tammy started Feathered Darlinâ€™ online in 2020. To test the local market, she started popping up at vendor events and festivals, and the boost in sales was amazing. â€œI realized that going where the people are made more sense than investing in a commercial property and waiting for people to come to me,â€ she says.
Weather was not always her friend with a pop-up tent for her clothing and accessories. She noticed other vendors using utility trailers for mobile sales and realized transporting everything without a lot of set up time and equipment was appealing. â€œI had seen a short bus converted to a mobile jewelry boutique and that stuck in my mind. When we came across a 35-foot, 1985 school bus for sale, well, it seemed meant to be.â€
The story of the school bus renovation is really more interesting in the video [see sidebar] than here on the page, but suffice it to say, the first clue this might be challenging was the bus breaking down on its way home, the day after Christmas, 2022. â€œThere was no room in the budget to hire outside help, so my husband, Greg, and I researched how others renovated busses into tiny homes to get an idea of how to make it functional,â€ Tammy recalls. They figured out many tasks along the way, like how to remove and get rid of the old seats, fix leaky windows, install paneling and flooring, craft the lettering on the outside â€“ all to create the shop Tammy envisioned.
The couple never stopped working for 4 Â½ months between Gregâ€™s full-time position at Mountain 2 Island at Rock House Marina, Tammyâ€™s full-time job at Nanosonic, and the bus renovation every weekend. â€œGreg has always been fully supportive of my business, and heâ€™s just as excited about Mobilene as I am,â€ Tammy states, proudly adding: â€œHeâ€™s my driver and goes to every event with me.â€
It was her vision that motivated them all along the way. â€œFrom first look, I could see a dressing room in the back, a full check-out area and enough room for several racks of clothing plus accessories.â€ There were some simply overwhelming times, but she could still see that end result while thinking: â€œWhat would Dolly do?â€ She wouldnâ€™t give up, thatâ€™s for sure. Dolly has said: â€œYouâ€™ll never do a whole lot unless you are brave enough to try.â€
The first event was the One Stop Spring Shoppe in Dublin on May 13, 2023. â€œWe made this date our deadline and were still putting on the finishing touches the night before,â€ Tammy explains.
This visionary lady, certainly of whom Dolly would be proud, built her website, curates and purchases products via wholesale vendors, enters them into inventory, manages orders, packages and ships, runs social media pages and narrates the videos. Tammy shoots all her photos and models most of the clothing, though her sister-in-law, Cristi Carbaugh, occasionally steps into a new outfit for the camera. Of course, Tammy also cleans the bus and re-stocks for the next event.
Akin to Tupperware home parties of the 1950s and todayâ€™s home parties like Scentsy, Mary Kay and Pampered Chef, Mobilene is a novel home party on wheels. The bus will come to your business or home, and for two hours, guests can shop, try on clothes and socialize. Thereâ€™s no fee, just an 8-person minimum, replete with hostess incentives and discounts. Mobilene, the boutique bus, is ready to roll in for company events, bachelorette parties, grand openings, customer appreciation days and just a fun get-together.
Feathereddarlinâ€™ offers a points-based rewards program, gift cards, referral bonus and you can gain points on your birthday or by following on Instagram or Facebook.
Dolly may well be Tammyâ€™s inspiration, and itâ€™s highly likely that Tammy, now, is someone elseâ€™s inspiration for following a dream.
Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos courtesy of Feathered Darlinâ€™