I’ve been working in retail since I was a teenager. At the age of 27 I decided to go back to college with support from my now husband. I got a degree from FIDM for Merchandising and Marketing. It was a great school that I learned a lot from about building a store, being an entrepreneur and what I would do if I ever got to the point of building my own company. I also met a great network of other women who work in the industry and want to grow their careers. I met Niki Brown through that program and we hired her to be our store manager and help with buying. My husband Oliver Tan was an engineer since he graduated in 2008 from Vanderbilt University. While he was seeing me succeed in my program he was working in a cubicle designing indoor bicycles. Once I graduated we started thinking about what was next, which for us was marriage and I started searching for a job in marketing or buying. However I really felt I had the experience to start my own shop, and when his parents started floating the idea of a family business we decided to get serious about the project and I gave up the job search. We came up with the idea of an outdoor store, but scaled down to boutique size, and on trend with what we were seeing in the market which was camping, but cool. So we floated the idea to his parents and they were excited, told us to build a business plan. We did the numbers, really researched our area, our market and our demographic to see if it was viable. We believed it was but more than that we saw a space was open in our own town, right down the street from the place I was working at the time. It seemed like it was meant to be. We applied for the space in July and we opened at the end of October.
Wander is meaningful for me because I really love to travel, aimlessly or with a plan but my wandering brought me to California. I grew up outside of Philadelphia on the east coast and I decided to visit California on a whim to see my aunt, and then I decided “why go back?”. So I packed what I could fit in my car and moved here, which brought me to everything that is good in my life, my husband, my career and a whole slew of new friends and family. It’s also what we like to say to each other when we want to check something out, whether it’s an a festival or camping or in a new city, let’s go wander around, has always been what we say. So it seemed right. We picked outfitters simply for the reason that it made it clear that we want to outfit you for your next adventure, and the URL was available too! Now I say my motto is “no matter where I wander or roam, as long as I have you, I’ll always be home”. My husband even gave me the gift of getting it tattooed on my arm for Christmas it means that much to both of us.
We are a family business for starters, we are just 4 people on the floor plus some help behind the scenes from the older more experienced generation before us. Add to that that we are a small outdoor store, in this time of mega stores it’s hard to find a place that you actually know the people there personally and they know you. We feel that makes it a special experience shopping with us, we love our customers and hearing about their wanders or what they have planned is always so exciting for us. We also do no real marketing, we think it’s important to have our connection with our customers be natural and real from their encounters with us so it’s just word of mouth and social media. Also every single person who works with us is really a lover of travel and adventure so we never have to lie and say we like a product or a place, we can always speak from experience.
HYDROFLASK! We go through Hydroflasks like hotcakes. They are the best water bottle on the market, they stay cold for 24 hrs or more and hot for 8 hrs or more so that’s awesome. We also sell a lot of tees, and local brands. Our favorite brands are probably Hippie Tree, and Maiden Voyage both of which are SoCal businesses but also they are a really good quality items as well.
Just one location, we are early days yet!
We are going to be going online in this next few months which is very exciting and we will be shipping nationally. Additionally we want to get to the point where we are really a community resource for meeting up with other people who love the outdoors and travel. One day we would love to have more stores, but for now this makes us happy right here in Fullerton.