CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- As entrepreneurs over at the i.Lab continue developing their businesses this summer, there are quite a few ventures around town that are graduates of the iLab program.
Leftover Luxuries owner, Wendi Smith, is an interior designer by trade.
She said that when the economy shifted in late 2008 and people started spending money differently, she found herself with some great items from clients and other clients who wanted to buy those leftover luxuries.
Before Smith knew it, she started a popup consignment business with that very name.
"So, we would be open to the public for ten days at a time, which also created retail urgency. Leftover Luxuries has done that as far west as Los Angeles, as far north as Westport Connecticut, and as far south as Atlanta," Smith said.
Branding her venture came naturally, but soon Smith realized she needed some help with which direction to take her business.
She said, "I was at a turning point with the company and a couple of people suggested that I apply for iLab."
Smith's Leftover Luxuries was one of the first community ventures to come out of the iLab program and she says the experience still sticks with her to this day.
"It just made me think more on a business level. There were some big decisions I needed to make and to make those decisions happen, I had to implement things I knew nothing about," Smith said. "You will concentrate every single day for ten weeks on your company, but you're not doing it alone."
She said, "Learning more about my customer was huge. I was trying to help and fix everybody and I figured out a way to do that."
Smith now has a warehouse in Charlottesville to satisfy her biggest following of customers.
She has a detailed system she uses to work with the community to consign items, as well as area retailers to help them move merchandise.
She even gives back to the community by donating items to various charities and then, there is this thing called networking she does.
"One thing she is really good at is bringing people together and networking and I had my jewelry line here with her and a local shop owner came in and saw my work and decided that she wanted to carry it in her store," said Tricia Humphreys, a consigner and customer of Leftover Luxuries.
Smith admitted that the iLab is a commitment, but she said there is also no denying it is a life-changing commitment.
"Whether your business is an idea written down on a napkin while you were having a martini or somebody that's been in the green for four years, everybody needs improvement, and the iLab made all of us look at our company and figure that out," said Smith.