February 23rd, 2015 at 2:00am
While we love showcasing stylish Fashionistos and are obsessed with our male Style Gurus, we love ourselves a serious dose of girl power here at CollegeFashionista. It is in this vain that we are excited to introduce a new series that showcases young, female entrepreneurs making waves and taking names.
The kick off this new monthly series, we are shining the light on Neely Burch, the brainchild behind Neely by VNB. Much like CollegeFashionista, Neely saw and felt a void of fashion accessibility for college-age women going to school on rural campuses. So instead of sitting back, she dared to dream big and did something about it. Neely loaded up her tricked out airstream (aka the NEELmobile), turned it into a boutique and starting driving curated collections of shoes, accessories and jewelry directly to these campuses. And thus a traveling boutique catering to fashion conscious women at rural and college campuses was born.
Neely and the NEELmobile will be heading out on a spring tour. Be sure to check out the latest fashions on a campus near you:
February 23 – 25: Auburn University
February 26 – 28: University of Georgia
March 5 – 7: University of South Carolina
March 9 – 11: College of Charleston
March 23 – 25: Clemson
March 26 – 28: Furman University
March 30 – April 1: Wofford College
April 9 – 11: Wake Forest University
April 13 – 15: Elon University
April 16 – 18: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
April 20 – 22: Duke University
April 30 – May 2: Washington and Lee University
Learn more about Neely, her journey and what she thinks is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur below!

CollegeFashionista: Where do you go to school and what was your major?

Neely Burch: I graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History.

CF: What opportunities did you take advantage of in college that helped you start your own business?

NB: What I’ve found is that being an entrepreneur means doing a little (and sometimes a lot) of everything. In college, I wanted to participate in many different clubs and leadership opportunities. Learning to balance those endeavors really allowed me to understand how to manage all the different tasks and deadlines, and most importantly, when to delegate.

CF: What has been the most rewarding part of starting your own business?

NB: For me, the exposure to new challenges has been the most rewarding experience throughout this whole process. That includes everything from understanding the nuances of managing a team of all ages and experience levels to leaning to drive a 30-foot airstream on I-95!

CF: What has been the most challenging experience you have had since starting Neely by VNB and how do you overcome it?

NB: Learning to adapt. Ordinarily, I like to organize down to the smallest detail. This fall, we quickly realized everything doesn’t always go according to plan. The moment we decided to accept that operational hiccups are inevitable was game changer. (By the way, that “moment” may or may not have been when I found myself driving the airstream across the GW Bridge.) We realized it was our reactions to the obstacles that mattered. With that in mind, we were then able to make the most out of every tour stop and create the best experience for each and every one of our customers.

CF: Describe your personal style in three words. 

NB: Classic, chic, timeless.

CF: Style varies from campus to campus, so how do you curate a collection of clothes and accessories that you think will appeal to multiple campuses?

NB: Our buying team has worked incredibly hard to make sure that our assortment has something for every girl, while still remaining true to our own style and our vision for the company. By curating a wide selection of brands (we have about 30 on board), we were able to pick and choose the best of the best from each of our vendors. With both higher end and affordable items as well as both established and up and coming designers, we believe every girl on campus can find something that’s missing from her closet.

CF: What are you most looking forward to on your campus tours with NEELmobile? 

NB: Each season holds a whole new set of exciting encounters. We will be visiting at least 14 new campuses this season and I am really looking forward to seeing each reaction- it’s always different. We have some exciting new additions this spring, including partnering up with Catey Shaw for live music at four lucky stops! Each time we visit a new campus, it gives us the opportunity to get to know the ‘Neely Girl’ even better and grow as a company to suit her needs.

CF: Any advice you would give to college students who have entrepreneurial goals? 

NB: Go for it! At least for me, it was a very intimidating leap to take, but in my opinion, now’s the time. Do your research, make sure you’ve got some good friends around who are willing to listen to your stories about uphill battles, the unbeaten path, and even the smallest of victories, and then…dive in.