The Nomad Truck: Fit for a Gypsy Warrior Queen

If Stevie Nicks had a pixie daughter, her closet would look like The Nomad Truck. Aztec print shirts, sleek side-slit maxi skirts, lace crop tops, rough and tumble quartz and bullet jewelry. The Nomad Truck isn’t a run-of-the-mill indie darling boutique. It’s a mobile store with gypsy sensibilities.

Food trucks are all the rage, from sampling tacos to cupcakes. So, why not fashion? Founder, Jessie Goldenberg, provides all the fixings of a brick and mortar flagship — a dressing room, artfully curated products, displays that utilize alternative sentiments to stand out. There are stacks of evil eye bracelets, arrow head rings, Love Marks shifts, ViJo Couture maxi dresses, camouflage jackets, and my personal favorite, a celestial print Wanderlust loose-but-structured tank.

Jesse’s style is reminiscent of a gypsy-rocker-Stevie-goddess and the truck is proof of her aesthetic vision. Each piece is meticulously chosen and fits a dreamy wanderer vibe. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessie on The Nomad Truck and its journey thus far.

Jessie of Nomad

GP: Nomad is coined as the “wandering fashion boutique” — what propelled you to start a mobile store? What does Nomad allow you to do that might not be possible with a strictly brick and mortar or online store?

Jessie: I’ve always wanted to own a small boutique, and I saw the trend of mobile stores happening out in California and Seattle last Spring. To open a brick and mortar in a place like New York City, where rents are sky-high, just wasn’t feasible for me. Having a mobile store with the lower overhead and start up costs was much more within my reach. In addition, being mobile has allowed me to reach a wider customer base – not only do we pop up in Brooklyn and the surrounding areas like Jersey City and Hoboken, but we travel to music festivals and colleges in the region. We literally deliver the product to our customers and allow them to shop in a more unique way.

GP: When did you start the Nomad truck? What were you doing before?

Jessie: I launched Nomad this past April, just shy of a full year of planning, forming the company, raising capital, and so on. While I’ve had a lot of retail experience – including managing and buying for small boutiques, my background is in film production. After graduating from film school in 2010, I realized quickly that I wanted to be my own boss, and start something from the ground up, being involved in all aspects from creative to business.

GP: What was your philosophy for creating Nomad? I like how Nomad is described as a “shopping experience that’s a little bit gypsy, a little bit rock ‘n roll.

Jessie: It’s funny because a lot of my friends who walk into Nomad often say “Wow, Jessie, this is just like your own closet.” I really wanted to create an atmosphere that was inviting, cozy, and intimate. I’ve always been influenced by the style, music, and ideologies of the 1960’s and 70’s, and drew a lot of inspiration from this era. Bohemian fashion and the bohemian lifestyle in general is something that, in my opinion, will never go out of style – it’s timeless. As “Nomads” we are sort of free-spirited travelers, moving about the city, carrying fashions from different places, meeting different people, sharing in new experiences. It’s a novel idea, shopping from a truck, and I wanted to offer it with a sense of welcome and open-mindedness you can feel right when you step aboard.

Nomad carries bohemian clothes with a wanderlust aesthetic

GP: How does having a mobile store influence your relationship with customers? How does it influence Nomad’s image?

Jessie: It definitely gets the conversation going quicker. Since the space is so small, and everyone is so curious about the idea and how it came about, I find myself having longer and more in depth conversations with all my customers. I’ve gotten to know so many exciting new people, and even people who want to help out in one way or another! And I do have regulars too! At some of our weekly stops, for example, our Thursday lunch time stop at the food truck lot on Canal and Varick, I have customers who stop in every week on their lunch break to chit chat and check out our new styles. We’re really building a community!

GP: What are your parameters when picking products for Nomad? How do you know what fits into Nomad’s vision?

Jessie: I try to pick products that have a unique story, and feature designers who are on the same wavelength as me. I look for pieces that are elegant and simple to be worn everyday and also pieces that are one-of-a-kind and something you won’t find everyone else on the street wearing. I love teaming up with local young designers just starting out too. J White, for example, is a Brooklyn based designer who screenprints hand drawn designs on gorgeous handmade shawls. I know that all her pieces are done with pure dedication, stitch by stitch, and when they get into the hands of a happy customer I can relay this story to it’s all that much better.

GP: What is the Nomad style? Is there a specific vision or aesthetic that you see for Nomad and its customers? How does Brooklyn fit into that image?

Jessie: Nomad has a very bohemian, free-spirited, casual chic style. It’s all about being comfortable but classic, edgy yet elegant. Brooklyn defines that. My clientele in Brooklyn are customers looking to add something different to their wardrobe – they express themselves through their style and its important to them.

GP: How has Nomad Truck changed you?

Jessie: In so many ways – I could write a book on this question alone! For one, its made me toughen up. So many people – both strangers and family – have had opinions on what I am doing, the correct way to do it, how this and that should be done. I learned quickly to go with my gut and accept that I will make mistakes and to just keep pushing on no matter what people say. When I was just getting started, a fellow fashion trucker from San Francisco shared the most important piece of advice with me: stay confident. You are nothing without believing in yourself. When I first bought the truck and had a mechanic check it out, he told me I had made a huge mistake and there was no way me and my 5” 1’ stature would be able to drive it around NYC. It felt like a dagger to the heart! But I remembered the advice I was given to just remain confident. Now I can (almost!) parallel park her! Nomad has made me all the more confident and empowered!

GP: What are your current favorite pieces at Nomad?

Jessie: The J White shawls that I mentioned above are definitely one of my favorites, especially being local to Brooklyn. As is an all leather, handmade in Ghana purse that we have. I also love these quartz bullet necklaces and earrings that we have by Virginia designer, Native Daughter. And everything that we have coming in for Fall is just sensational – tons of military jackets, blended oversized sweaters, floppy wool hats – Fall is just the most exciting season for fashion.

GP: What dreams do you have for Nomad? Where is the mobile truck journey headed?

Jessie: So many! I’d love to open more trucks, to have our own branded line of clothing, to continue to expand the website. I also dream of one day opening a brick and mortar right here in Brooklyn to serve as a home base for the whole operation – hopefully one with a parking lot for the fleet out back.

Track down Nomad’s location here.

About Stephanie

Stephanie is a poet, teacher, & pathological dreamer. She lives in Greenpoint. Her literary & style musings can be found here: http://kitschy.tumblr.com.