In addition to the usual #meanhustlemonday blogs, we’ll be putting out bonus interviews here and there! I knew going into this that there would be women in my day to day that I would want to highlight, but might not be next in line as far as nominations went. This is one of those interviews, and I am super excited about it!
This weekend is the Spring Junk Hippy show in OKC. So it only made sense to have a convo with the founder/owner, Kristen Grandi! Pigs Fly Shop will be one of 200 vendors in the show at Heritage Place this Saturday April 26th, and has participated in past Junk Hippy shows as both a vendor and as a musician. The free-wheeling spirit of the event and its creators is very much in line with PFS’. But to be honest, I just had a million questions about how Kristen pulls this thing off!
Fairly last minute this week I had asked Kristen if she’d like to do a Mean Hustle Q&A. I had anticipated a polite decline, as it was show week and this was a big ask. Kristen not only immediately replied to my message, she was pumped! Which made me pumped! Like always, she fit in one-more-thing, and was happy to do it. Thank you Kristen!
Kristen Grandi is the owner/founder of Junk Hippy, one of Country Living Magazine’s top vintage events. This is her hustle…
Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your story?
Hey hey! My name is Kristen Grandi. I’m the owner/founder of Junk Hippy. We are a traveling vintage event based out of OKC, with shows here and all over Texas. We’re in our eighth year now! I grew up in El Reno, OK and live in Oklahoma City with my husband Shawn and our girls, Morgan and Fin and our two rescue doggies Jack and Ozzy. I’m an introvert living the life of an extrovert. I’m turning 40 this summer. I’m not mainstream. I love tobacco candles, worn out ratty jeans and concert tees, and the only makeup I own is blush and mascara. I’ve been obsessed with interior design since I was 12. Being unique and authentic is everything. I have no desire to fit in or be like anyone else. I love music, especially classic rock and Justin Timberlake. I’m always barefoot. Drew Barrymore is my spirit animal. I want to live in Laurel Canyon and eat fish tacos and California oranges every day. I’m a professional junker, dumpster diver, artist, designer, thrifter, gypsy and risk taker.
Can you give us a run-down of your 9 to 5, and also your passion project(s)?
Shawn and I work together from home. I know it’s weird, but we’re together 24/7 and we love it. I start out with meditation and prayer (necessary to control anxiety!), then either a little yoga or I turn some music up loud and jump around for a few minutes. Then it’s coffee or green juice while I work on emails and whatever needs to be done that day. Working on press releases, booking venues and vendors, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook – Lady Gaga says it’s the toilet of the internet and I agree but it’s necessary when you are a business owner. We go to lunch every day, just the two of us, usually to a Mediterranean place. If we aren’t close to a show date, I’m probably cleaning out a closet, the garage or one of our three storage units, shopping estate sales or rearranging everything in the house and making a mess. I love selling things and it’s not unusual for me to pull everything out of a room and sell it all. We also do estate sales sometimes between shows. We clean out old buildings and usually have some random project going on that somehow always requires us to move furniture. Shawn even has a song about it. “Load the Tahoe, unload the Tahoe.” I tell God thank you every day for this business and life we’ve built, it’s not routine, it’s not normal but it’s perfect. We don’t sit still very often. My passion project… that is in the works and in the vault for now but I’ll tell you soon.
I have had the pleasure of being a vendor and a musician at Junk Hippy, and it has always seemed like just a massive undertaking! Can you talk a little bit about what it was like for you, and your family, starting this thing day one?
We loved having you play at our shows! We’re way past due for an Ali show! Honestly, I think if I step back and think about how huge it is, it would freak me out. There is so much going on behind the scenes and I just am grateful that it all works. I try not to think about the magnitude of it. Sometimes when I see vendors pulling in with their trailers to set up at a show, I think, holy shit… people are taking off work and using vacation days and planning trips around something that I put together. It’s a responsibility and an honor that I don’t take for granted.
I will never forget our very first show, seeing this beautiful event that had somehow come together, then looking out at the line of shoppers that morning. I had to go hide and cry for a minute. It was this overwhelming feeling, knowing that people planned and came to this thing that grew out of my soul. They showed up and they wanted what we were doing. The universe was definitely behind us. It’s always been a family owned and operated business, and that’s super important to us. We’re not a franchise, we’re not corporate. We are grassroots. Our girls help us, Morgan helps check in vendors on set up day and takes admission on show day. Fin does lots of little jobs and even helps vendors load and unload. My whole family and some really great friends work the shows too. My grandpa, Papa, works the entry and it’s the cutest thing you’ll ever see. He wears his Junk Hippy hat and greets everybody with a smile. ”Junk Hippy Roadshow, fiiiive dollars!”
“We started this when we had nothing else to lose and I had to get really brave. So, there was a push financially, but also, I’m a doer and not a talker. You want to do something? Go do it.”
I am always interested in the "why" of the work. If someone just loves hard-work and it's instinctual? Is it a means to an end? Or, is it one big push until they arrive at an end goal? What is the "why" of your work
It’s kind of all of the above. I am a workaholic and perfectionist about things when my heart is in it. I love hard work as an entrepreneur and kind of thrive on it because it’s building something for our life and our family. As an employee at my previous 8-5 jobs...I REALLY sucked. Honestly, they probably should’ve fired me, because I just didn’t give a crap about what I was doing. I wasn’t cut out for that and was miserable trying to be that person. What led to Junk Hippy though, was my previous business painting furniture and selling vintage. I sold at any event I could find - at that time there was only one big semi-annual event and local craft type shows in churches around here - and lugged my stuff around to these places until I finally told Shawn that we needed a show that was OUR style… junk, vintage, and retro. We didn’t fit into any of those boxes. We aren’t a craft show, but we aren’t an antique show. I remember when this was new and people asked what we did. I’d tell them it’s a junk show and they’d cock their head, “junk show?”. No one knew what that meant.
Let me back up a tiny bit. We started Junk Hippy, officially, March 25, 2012. Just a few months before that, we lost our home. We moved two days before Christmas. That’s not something that people like to announce but it’s part of our story and just being honest...The recession hit us really hard and we lost everything. We started this when we had nothing else to lose and I had to get really brave. So, there was a push financially, but also, I’m a doer and not a talker. You want to do something? Go do it. It took about 3 years from the first time I decided to have an event until everything lined up and it actually happened in 2012 but timing is everything and is always perfect. So, it started as half “this is my passion” and half “we are doing this to survive”. Now it’s more of a mission to see where we can take this and to show our girls that taking a risk is always worth it. That if you want something bad enough just go do it and nothing will stop you. I want them to be fearless and bold and never live or think inside the box.
No one truly sees the blood, sweat, and tears that go into doing what we love. To everyone else, the finished product just appears! On your busiest and toughest day, gettin’ down and dirty, what are you doing?
Oh, this has to be set up day! That’s our busiest and toughest day. Set up day is long…we don’t eat, drink, pee or sit for about 18 hours. But here’s the best part. Our shows are like having all your favorite cousins all together. Seriously, seeing all these people makes my heart happy. I love, love, love getting to hug everyone and visit with our friends. Plus, I love seeing a huge empty venue turn into this magical festival fairy land. We’re checking people in, showing them their space, remembering to pick winners for all my social media contests, putting out fires all day, setting up my own booth… Behind the scenes though, my thighs will be so sore from squatting to mark spaces, that I tear up a little when I do try to sit or stand. Also, I’m empathic so I feel everything. Even though it’s 99% love and good things coming from everyone that day, I’ll be on overload emotionally. I have to drive home in total silence and decompress a little. Physically and emotionally, I’ll be drained. I don’t know how I deserve him but Shawn rubs my feet when we get home from set up, every single time. Even though he is hurting too.
Mean Hustle aims to be a platform to discuss the barriers and biases women deal with on a daily basis. Have you been met with obstacles in your own career that were gender related?
I don’t really think that I have felt that from men. But maybe I have ignored it and plowed through. Honestly, I’m running 90 mph with my hair on fire most of the time and wouldn’t even notice. To be completely honest though, the only people who have tried to stop me were other women. Which is really sad.
I think we all have this flame of hope that the strides women are making today, will make things easier for girls tomorrow. Realistically, there is such a long way to go, and the best we can do immediately is arm younger women and girls to protect and stand up for themselves. Do you have any advice or tools for young woman who may be dealing with discrimination in their personal and/or professional lives?
Oh girls! Just be kind to each other! We are on the same team. I feel like we destroy each other more than men ever could. Raise each other up! And, if you want something, just go. Whatever you want, do it. Life is short and you don’t need ANYONE’S permission. Your path is yours and no one can stop it. Light your fire and go. Anyone in the way of that can go to hell. I wish more people knew that what you send your energy and attention to, grows. So instead of fighting something you hate, put that energy into the thing you’re fighting for! Don’t pick a fight, just prove them wrong.
“…if you aren’t doing what you love, change it, quick.”
What is the most important “tool in your toolbox”, physical or otherwise?
I’ve learned that taking care of you is everything. Being an entrepreneur, plus a mom, wife, human…you are demanded so many things by so many people. You have to check out sometimes and reset. It’s so cliché but you can’t pour from an empty cup. I will work until I literally end up so run down that I get sick. Get in tune with your body and listen to it. Take a long bath, eat good food. Find a release, whether it’s meditation, working out, smashing bottles in the garage, whatever. And if you aren’t doing what you love, change it, quick.
How do you define success for yourself, and are you there yet?
For myself, it means this. I started something from nothing and we are in our eighth year. It’s something worthy of imitation. It’s something that has been nationally recognized. It’s something that has helped others start or build their own businesses. We’ve seen so many of our vendors grow in so many ways. So in a way, those achievements are part of my success. Then also…I don’t compete with others but I do challenge myself, and I never want to settle. So in some ways still, I’m not totally there yet. I still have lots of things I want to do.
Best day of your career so far?
There are two. The first would be the day of our first show. It was validation of my dream and our hard work, and I was in awe or SHOCK that it was really happening. It was also like the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. We had no idea what was in store for us, we were just blind. The second, was at one of our Oklahoma shows. We usually give away a few spaces at each show, to try and help someone grow. At this show, there was a woman who had won a free space. She was super sweet through the whole event and kept telling me how grateful she was for that free space. At the end of the show, she came up to me, sobbing. I thought oh God, something horrible happened. She couldn’t even get words out. Finally, she was able to tell me this. She was losing her home due to back taxes. But she made enough money that day to save her home. That was full circle for me and went straight to my soul. Girl, I’ve been there. That’s life changing. What else matters??
You have to teach someone a random skill that you are knowledgeable in, in 5 minutes or less. What is that skill? Novelty skills absolutely count!
My grandpa, dad and 3 uncles were all house painters. When you’re painting walls, you backfill first, cut in trim and ceiling and roll the walls last. I love making the first swipe of paint on the walls and am pretty good at mixing paint colors to make my own.
Thank you for being a part of Mean Hustle and sharing your story! One last question. Is there any one specific woman on your radar right now who you look up to in terms of mean hustling, and/or doing impactful work? Who are they, and why?
The first person that comes to mind is my friend Melissa Newbold with The Bake Shoppe & Café in Cypress, TX. She is a sweet friend but also is a female entrepreneur who has built an amazing business! She is fun and smart and thoughtful and everyone who knows her loves her. I look up to Melissa so much.