Interview with Kimberly Avila: Qweenie of Everything

Q: You are the proud owner of Qweenie in the Rio Grande Valley. Can you describe your business?

A: Qweenie is a pop up food trailer that serves mouth watering hot dogs in an unconventional way.

Q: What gave you the idea to start a pop up food trailer?

A: Aside from my love of cooking and eating, the idea pretty much came up because I had seen some ladies one night with hot dog carts outside of some of LA’s hottest clubs. We waited in line for about an hour for a hot dog and it was the best! I noticed all the people waiting in line and [the owner of the hot dog cart] only had one hot dog on the menu. I was super impressed by her hustle. So one night, my fiancé, Bryan Nunn, and I had some friends over and as we talked outside on our Los Angeles balcony, we looked out onto the Hollywood sign and talked about our future plans, goals, and wishes. I said, “I think I’m gonna open up a hot dog cart, wear a crystallized crown, some heels, a cute outfit, and park on Hollywood Boulevard.” That silly idea never left my brain and now, here I am! Not at all how glamorous I thought it would be, but pretty close.

Q: What year did you decide to open your business?

A: Qweenie opened in the summer of 2018.

Q: Why did you decide to do so?

A: After graduating with my Bachelors in Science in 2018, I knew I was going to have to eventually pay back all my student loans and coincidentally I had also just found the cutest little taco stand that was up for sale on Craigslist. So I figured why not use my rent & bill money, along with whatever I had saved in the bank, to buy it and paint it pink.

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Q: What sort of steps did you take in preparation of opening your own business? Was there a process you followed or created?

A: I kind of just dove right in. We had little tastings at our apartment with friends so they could sample some of the recipes we had created. After a while, we decided it was time to just put ourselves out there. I created an Instagram and Facebook page and started to post photos of our yummy looking hot dogs. We chose a product to stick with, went to Sam’s, bought merchandise, set a price, and opened up. The process eventually became difficult because we were then being recognized as a legitimate business. That means we had to start following the rules and requirements that come with opening a mobile good facility, but that I learned through time.

Q: What was the hardest part about opening Qweenie when you were first starting out?

A: The hardest part was trying to sell the idea of hot dogs being served in a such a “weird” unheard of way.

Q: What is the most difficult part now?

A: The hardest part NOW is keeping up with the demand.

Q: What are other challenges you faced?

A: Money. You need money to make money and having to invest every last penny I had in hopes it would pay off was extremely scary. Also, being respected as a business owner in the food industry, and meeting requirements for permits in different cities was very costly. There’s always a new challenge every week that arises, but I use it as an opportunity for growth!

Q: How did you decide on the name Qweenie? I love it!

A: Thank you! Actually my fiancé Bryan came up with the name. I originally wanted to name it the Queen of Weenies, but it seemed too long for me. I wanted it to just roll off the tongue and Bryan said, “Why don’t we combine it and call it QWEENIE?” And I instantly fell in love! It just has a ring to it.

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Q: How did you get the background and skills necessary to run your own business? (For example, education and work experience that you think was relevant in the opening of your business).

A: I pretty much used all my previous experience from working retail and my direct sales experience to my psychology degree to guide me. I mean, I make mistakes. Some big, some small ones. I’m always learning, especially in an industry that I pretty much have no clue about, but I am always looking for new ways to improve my productivity. To be completely honest, I feel like aside from the hard work and persistence that is required to run a business, if you want to open a business you can. You just have to do what you can with what you have and if you believe you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, then you’re right. I didn’t have background in the food industry. I just used google, social media, and learned through trial and error.

Q: Did you have any help in opening up your own food trailer?

A: Oh, of course! My fiancé is my partner in everything Qweenie. My parents also helped so much.

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Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?

A: I wake up at 9 a.m. to go to the gym. I grab a quick lunch at 11 a.m. and then we start with inventory, restocking, prepping the recipes, responding to emails and messages regarding collaborations, new customers, and catering. Then we head to our location at 4 p.m. to open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Afterwards, we clean up the floor, the walls, the fridge, the appliances, dishes, lock up, and head home around 12 a.m. Lastly, I do the daily numbers and it’s already about 1 to 2 a.m. and it’s time for bed.

Q: How do you market your business?

A: I use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Q: Whom do you seek advice from for your business? Is there anyone you look up to?

A: I don’t really have a mentor for business, but being in the business world I have met so many other business owners and I love the conversations we all have because they’re always so inspiring. We share stories, advice, and knowledge that I always internalize. I’m also obsessed with [the show] Shark Tank and self-improvement books that I turn to when I need advice.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start and run their own business?

A: My advice to anyone wanting to start a business is put yourself in a situation where failure is not an option to ensure you don’t half-ass anything.

Q: What is  your favorite part of your career?

A: My favorite part is seeing the look on people’s faces when they try our food for the first time, or how excited they get when they see the trailer, or seeing a crowd of people waiting in line to order is surreal. Being my own boss is pretty cool, too!

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Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

A: I’d tell my younger self to keep the focus on progress not perfection.

Q: Where do you see Qweenie in the next five years?

A: A Qweenie in every major city.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: If you aren’t following your passion it’s because you’re researching the wrong things. And as cliche as it sounds, life really can be as simple as creating the things you wish existed. I just want all the babes to know that falling down is an accident, but staying down is a choice.

MEET THE AUTHOR

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My name is Kimberly Avila, I am 27 years old and when life hands me lemons I make chocolate cake and leave the haters wondering how I did it.

 

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