The Well Wagon Genesis
Beginnings. They are truly the most intimidating yet exciting moments of your life. Today, I am so grateful that I get to walk you through the beginning of The Well Wagon. It has been a journey that has made me a better, smarter, and more thoughtful person. It made me understand the importance of perseverance and made me appreciate those that encouraged me more than ever. So let's dive in why and how I transformed this rusty little horse trailer into a food truck. It was quite the ride...
The question that I get most often: "What made you do this?"
There are so many factors that led to my vision of this renovation; so let's start from a time that feels like a million years ago: the Pre-Covid Era. (*GASP*)
We all know that the best things happen during college spring break of freshmen year....except for 2020. In March 2020, I was in the Bahamas with a large group of girls in my sorority when we got an email: "SPRING BREAK EXTENDED ONE WEEK DUE TO COVID 19."
Let's not take ourselves back to those times. So, fast forward about a month and we have all adjusted to life back at home. During this time, I got to resume something that I couldn't do in a dorm: cooking. In particular, I began crafting smoothie bowls that were similar to the ones that were served on campus at TCU. I kept wondering why the Jackson area didn't have a restaurant that was dedicated to natural, mostly organic foods or smoothie bowls. It was such a huge hit in Texas, why wouldn't people in Mississippi like it too?
This moment is what began my "snowball effect." And when I become dedicated to a topic, I won't stop...I am a scary obsessive thinker. I'm sure that my ultra-planners and control freaks can relate, sometimes your mind can be completely consumed by a singular topic that you feel like you have to perfect every aspect of it. I used to be frustrated with all-consuming thoughts. However, the older that I have gotten, the more that I have looked at obsessive thinking to be a blessing. I am a firm believer that God puts people, thoughts, ideas, and moments in your head for a reason, and that He wants you to act on them through prayer. So I prayed for guidance, help, and clarity. I started looking into ideas for how I could make my dream of owning a business come true. I spent hours upon hours researching how to run a food truck, how to build one, where I could buy one, the requirements that had to be met, food trucks in my area, how food trucks even got electricity, how to set up sales tax, projected estimates on customers per hour, a menu, and so much more. And I never told a soul. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make this work, that I didn't have enough money, that people would think I was crazy, that I would be a complete failure.
But one day, I finally surrendered: "Why not just start a food truck? You're 19, you really don't have any major responsibilities right now, be daring with your money and do something that you want to do. Invest in your future and get some experience doing something big." So I decided to make my first big step. Tell my family.
I'm not sure if anyone else remembers this, but during quarantine, there was a huge trend on TikTok of "powerpoint nights." Each person in a family would create a powerpoint based on their topic of choice (comedic relief during the dark days). So, I told my family that I wanted to present a topic to them. Everyone gathered around the living area, confused but ready to listen to what I had to say. I flashed the title slide on the screen: "Why I Want to Start a Food Truck." Crickets. Confused looks. Not the response I was looking for. So, I continue with my presentation, struggling to put on a mask of confidence. Once I finished, I expected my family to jump into action on how they could help me turn this into a reality. Instead, I receive soul-crushing doubt. Granted, looking back at my original projections and overall plan, I deserved more than soul-crushing doubt. But in that moment, I felt like a complete failure. Why didn't they want to help me? Why won't they take me seriously? Do they not believe in me? Self-doubt and self-pity started creeping in.
The next couple of days were not fun at all. My vision and dream started to fade away. In the eyes of my parents, my idea was too expensive and too naive to think that I could turn a profit in a few months. Mom and Dad, y'all were so right. But back then I refused to believe that they were...now I'm sure that my headstrong, independent, won't-listen-to-your-parents people can relate. After I passed through an expedited 5 stages of grief, my mind started to be consumed with thoughts of improvement. How can I still do this? How can I cut my expenses? Are there alternatives to buying a ready-to-go food truck? I wasn't ready to give up on my dream quite yet.
I found a company out of New York that renovated horse trailers into mobile bar carts. While these were not fully-equipped food trucks that met health-department requirements, it planted the seed for my ultimate beginning: renovating. So, I began drafting up numbers for a horse-trailer revamping process. I sat down with my dad to show him how I could still complete my dream at 1/3 of the cost of my original plan. Fully anticipating that this would become another "powerpoint night," I was incredibly shocked when he agreed that this was an attainable plan. Dad you were my first believer and supporter. I'll never be able to thank you enough.
So off I go back to my room, heart-racing with excitement and adrenaline pumping as I place my laptop on my desk. Time to find a horse trailer.
After lots of cold-calling, fall-throughs, and unanswered messages, I finally found a little 1970 horse trailer in Eufaula, Alabama. To make sure that it wasn't a fake listing, the owners wrote "Well Wagon" on a sheet of paper and sent me the picture that is featured on this post (this is probably my favorite picture of all time). On May 2, 2020 my Dad and I made the 6 hour trek to Eufaula to go pick up this rusty old trailer. When we first looked at the trailer, we really almost turned around and went back to Jackson empty-handed. I was beyond conflicted with how I was supposed to tackle something so old. There was rotten wood, multiple leaks, rust galore, and worst of all, spiders everywhere. Then came another "who cares, we'll figure it out one way or another moment." Before I knew it the trailer was loaded up and we were headed back to Jackson jamming to old Guitar-Hero songs.
So now I had a trailer. I had a vision of what I wanted it to become. But how do I get there?
Step 1: demolition. I spent hours destroying the interior of this little trailer. This was probably super unsafe as I am a 19 year old girl who had never handled any of these tools before. But I acted like I knew what I was doing, and that's all that matters, right?! One way or another, the inside was gutted and the wheels were re-painted a shiny silver.
After I had done all that I could do by myself, it was time to enlist some professionals. Now begins the days of trial-and-error. Rejections and doubtful answers were the majority of the responses that I received, but I was so invested that it didn't matter. All that I was focussed on was finding one person to help me. I knew that if I could just get this process started, then I would be able to keep it going. To those that helped me renovate, there is absolutely no chance that I would be writing this if it weren't for you. Thank you for allowing my vision to come true, and thank you for bearing with me through my, how should we word this...constant presence and communication. Looking back, it is so special to see how all of these people connected. There was a chain of references that created a path from one person to another, and each of you have forever impacted my life.
Now, Summer 2020 was coming to a close and it was time to head back to school. At this point, The Well Wagon had been wired, repainted, re-floored, cabinets and countertops were installed, most supplies were bought, and plans for the health department were approved. But now it was time to leave my summer behind, and go back to Texas to start being a student again. The Well Wagon stayed in this static stage for almost the entire school year: no momentum, no improvements. With much to be done with it still, I started feeling overwhelmed around March 2021. I was so close but so far from the finished product. How will I finish it? Where will I get extra money? Should I still do this? What are my summer plans? Is it even worth it at this point?
I broke down in the car with my mom before I went back to school after Easter. I was leaning towards selling The Well Wagon in its current state and foregoing my vision of a food trailer. All that I had worked for was going to be someone else's and I had settled on becoming the person who tried to start their own business. However, once I was back at school, I started to explain my dilemma to some of my friends. Here were their responses: