For anyone, opening a business presents a multitude of challenges. Casey Longyear and Marshe Wyche experienced these challenges through the lens of two young women following a dream.
Fresh out of college, Longyear and Wyche opened Rumors Boutique in Richmond, Virginia in 2007. When visiting Carrboro to thrift shop, Longyear found it so unique she called Wyche to look into opening up a store in the area.
“If I hadn't done this 13 years ago, I don't know if I could do it now. It’s really hard to turn away from a salary and take a risk like that,” Longyear said. “We were just ambitious, followed our gut and luckily it worked.”
Rumors is a buy, sell and trade store. It buys clothing from community members and sells it to others. Chapel Hill is only one of Rumors’ three locations, with one recently opening in Durham.
“As females, who were single and young and looked a little different, we were very much judged trying to open a business," Longyear said.
They started their business at ages 22 with no help from their parents or banks.
“When we went to a bank to try to get a loan, I was told to first ask my dad for money and to ask my boyfriend for money,” Longyear said. “They just didn't like the idea of a girl with pink hair and a woman covered in tattoos coming in at 21 asking for money.”
Finally, the two received a grant offer. Just as they went to pick it up, the offer got taken back. Longyear said she had already signed a lease at that point, and they had to figure it out from there.
“I think not having any outside funding was really a blessing in disguise because it made us take everything we were doing super seriously-- we couldn't fail,” Longyear said. “If it failed, it would mean we’d lost everything.”
Longyear said they chose the name Rumors because people kept coming up to her saying "I heard a rumor you're opening a clothing store," as if they didn't think the two would be able to do it.
“We probably should have never succeeded if you look at us on paper,” Longyear said. “We failed to let that become a reality. 13 years later, we're still here, still expanding."
Longyear’s first influence of a woman business owner was her mother who ran a bed and breakfast. She also worked in a skateboard store during college with a female owner who she said gave her chances and inspired her.
“I definitely couldn't have done this without my business partner,” Longyear said. “She gave me confidence.”
Longyear said their staff over the years has become a family. The Rumors location in Chapel Hill has employees that have been with them for five of their six and a half years.
“I love to offer jobs where people get to be themselves at work. They don't have to put on a uniform or clock into a different attitude,” Longyear said. “They get to be themselves-- that’s really important to me.”
Juliet Magoon is the store manager of Rumors Chapel Hill and has worked with them for two and a half years.
“Rumors is now like a second family to me,” Magoon said. “We’re extremely open and honest with each other; we treat each other as equals.”
Magoon said the greatest strengths of the store are the values. Staff and customers are encouraged to be their authentic selves and not to be ashamed.
“The owners really want to see everyone in the store grow as individuals,” Magoon said. “They don't want anyone to feel stagnant or stuck. They want everyone to feel useful, appreciated and respected.”
Magoon has now worked every position at Rumors and intends to stick with the company for the foreseeable future.
“Casey has always told me that she wants me to grow with the company and that there are tons of possibilities,” she said.
Magoon said she thinks there can be a misconception that store owners have it made from the start.
“There definitely were tons of challenges for them. It hasn't been an easy ride, and there's still challenges now,” Magoon said.
Serena Singh has been a sales associate and model for Rumors since July of 2019.
“I had always loved Rumors as a store,” Singh said. “I loved that it was female owned, and the concept of sustainable fashion really interested me.”
Singh said an important characteristic of the store is its ability to keep the environment as a place where people want to be.
“I love everyone I work with,” Singh said. “It’s a very fun, upbeat environment, and we all mesh together really well and that allows productive sell days.”
Singh is a senior minoring in entrepreneurship at UNC. She occasionally works with Casey in the store and is able to talk to her about what it means to be in business.
“She really inspires me,” Singh said. “No matter what obstacles come your way, things are going to seem hard at first and will be hard at first, but that doesn't mean that you can't come out with a successful and viable product.”