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Meet Lauren Mercado of Handpicked Rentals

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Mercado. 

Hi Lauren, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I started my fashion career in Southern California. During that time I attended Fashion School, by (thankfully) receiving a full-ride scholarship. During my time in CA, I worked various fashion jobs like retail, producing fashion shows, ran a fashion blog, and worked as a wardrobe stylist and photoshoot producer in Los Angeles. I spent much of my early career doing any and everything I could to gain experience. I eventually left the corporate world to set out on my own. The Handpicked brand was born in 2014 and I sold vintage and new clothing online and at popups around California.

I decided to move back to my hometown of Wichita, Kansas because I noticed that there wasn’t a boutique like mine. I realized the unique opportunity that Kansas provides for young entrepreneurs and just fell in love with the energy.

So, in 2015, I moved home and opened Handpicked Los Angeles, a women’s clothing store that specialized in unique and fashion-forward clothing, new and pre-loved.

I learned during that time but in the Winter of 2019, I closed my retail store because I was ready to pivot into something a little different! Something more innovative, and something that allowed me to get back into wardrobe styling and personal shopping for clients, which I missed dearly. That’s when I created Handpicked Rentals & Wardrobe Styling.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road getting to where I am now wasn’t a smooth one. But it never is, is it? The entrepreneurial journey is all about failing, micro-pivoting, then getting back up and trying again. For me, I value being reinventive and resilient, and fearless in my path.

As a minority, women-owned business, being resilient and fearless is a very important aspect of the journey, in my opinion. Deciding to move back to the middle of Kansas, I wasn’t sure how I would be accepted.

That was a tough time for me in the beginning, trying to network with other business owners and new customers. Attending events and really not knowing how I would be treated.

Fast-forward to now, I’ve met many wonderful people in Wichita, and my clients are just fantastic! I’m very glad that I didn’t let my fears of acceptance hold me back.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Have you ever experienced this: You’re invited to a wedding, the invite says black tie, you realize you don’t own anything like this, so you go shopping, find the perfect dress, then find out it’s $300. You know you’re never going to wear that dress again, so you reluctantly put it back on the rack and search for something more affordable. Less stylish, but more affordable.

With Handpicked Rentals, we make sure our clients are always the best-dressed (well, just after the bride). When our clients visit us, they have a one-on-one styling session with their stylist to find the look they love and feel comfortable in!

We offer a unique range of clothing from vintage to new. Our services include clothing rental for special events, photoshoots, or just a general night out!

We’ve recently launched a service in which we style high school seniors for their special photoshoots! We have a passion for helping young people show off their personal style during such a milestone. We also dress clients for online content creation, like Instagram Reels, branding photoshoots, and creative marketing shoots.

From having a boutique that once sold clothing, to now being able to style our clients in various looks without them having to take a chance on a new look has been such a great time! Our clients get to have fun with fashion without a large price tag.

We have been very grateful for the support of our hometown! I am on a mission to provide fashion jobs to young creatives through photography, marketing, and wardrobe styling experience. All from right here in Kansas.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was a very quiet and shy child. I enjoyed reading, writing, and drawing. At the age of 16, I started competing in pageants, and through that experience, I improved my self-confidence and was able to work on my public speaking skills. Although I never won technically, I believe these skills helped shape my adult life, which I believe was the real prize.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Mallory Shaw

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