Founders often build businesses out of a personal pain point. Rhea Lana Riner, the Founder and President of Rhea Lana’s Franchising System, too built her company around passion and as a response to a personal need to do even more.
It all began in 1997. Rhea Lana as a young mom with three small children, after her husband changed careers, always sought out high-quality kids’ items at low cost for her children. “I had a passion for fashion, but on a limited budget, I could not afford to dress my children as I hoped,” reminisces Rhea Lana. Knowing many other moms who were experiencing the same challenge, she came up with an idea that would help them all. She invited a few friends to a small event in her living room to buy and sell their children’s used clothing. The positive feedback from the first event was overwhelming, and she quickly realized that there was an eager market among families of all kinds for gently used children’s clothing. From this humble beginning, Rhea Lana’s was born and has grown around the motto, “Family. Friends. Affordable Fashion” with deliberation “to serve with love and integrity, families everywhere with inviting, excellent and valuable children’s consignment events.”
In 2008, franchising of the Rhea Lana’s System began. Now twenty-three years later, Rhea Lana’s Franchise System has become a nationally recognized, award-winning franchise with 92 (and counting) individually owned franchises in 23 states across the United States.
“Sometimes, you just need the courage to get started!”
Making a Difference
Rhea Lana’s offers biannual, high quality, high volume consignment events allowing families to sell items their children have outgrown or no longer need. Anyone can consign or shop at the events. A consignor can earn 60-65% of their total sales and are encouraged to price their items at 30% of retail prices. Before the commencement of the event, consignors get their items prepped and entered into the company’s easy-to-use database and then drop them off during designated check-in days. Once they are in the store, shoppers can then come and purchase these highly-discounted quality items. By doing so, families can stretch their dollar while finding excellent items for their children. Since everything is computerized, consignors can log-in at any time during the event and check their sales in live time. They can access this same information using the Rhea Lana’s App. “This is a unique business in that we get to work with families who are emotionally connected to the clothing they are selling. We want to honor that and earn their trust as we help them sell these items and shop for new ones for the upcoming season ahead,” says Rhea Lana. “We get to come alongside these families and watch their children grow up just as our events are growing too. This business really is all about relationships. We value the friendships and camaraderie that happen when running an event.”
Rhea Lana’s started as a business to serve young families, and despite experiencing tremendous growth over the last two decades, the core values still prevail. “Everything begins and ends with our values, our attitudes, our spoken words, etc…,” says Rhea Lana. “I try to lead from the top so that our franchise owners know that in each decision I make, I consider these Core Company Values of Honesty, Integrity, Consistency, Honoring People, Having a Positive Attitude, Excellence, Innovation and Value. As leaders, we must convey these at all times. In doing so, we are creating a wonderful and positive event experience for all of those involved.” Rhea Lana’s thus offers a great model on customer service, merchandising, and presentation. When someone walks into any Rhea Lana’s event in any state, shoppers as well as consignors automatically recognize the events by their exceptional customer service and boutique look. On a business level, Rhea Lana’s offer the following: they were the first in the industry to create voice item entry via their RL App, the items are guaranteed against loss or theft (consignors are paid for any missing items at the end of the event), and unsold items and checks are ready the day after the event closes. Another part of the event is their RL Gives Back. All across the country, Rhea Lana Franchises work with hundreds of different non-profits and foster families. Any items consignors choose to donate will automatically go to local families in need. “I love that our owners are able to make a lasting and important impact on so many families,” shares Rhea Lana. “We know that when customers feel valued, they will return and will bring their friends with them.”
Indeed, Rhea Lana’s offers moms around the country what every family is looking for: the chance to earn a paycheck off outgrown items, purchase high-quality pieces at budget-friendly prices, and provide business opportunities for parents searching for flexibility.
The result:Entrepreneur magazine ranked Rhea Lana’s as one of their Top 500 Franchises in 2017. Franchise Gator named Rhea Lana’s in the Top 100 fastest growing franchises in 2017 and 2018 and among the Top 200 fastest growing franchises in 2016. The organization continues to rank in Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 Small Business Franchises in owner satisfaction for the 9th year in a row. Rhea Lana and her business have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, and Bloomberg Business. She has also been featured on numerous television and radio broadcasts. Additional awards include Top Retailer, Top 50 Franchise for Women for 2017 and 2018, 2017 Top Innovative Franchise, Top Low-Cost Franchise in 2018, 2016 Bronze Stevie Award for Company of the Year, 2016 Silver Stevie Business Award for Maverick of the Year, 2016 and 2017 Silver Stevie Award for Woman of the Year. As a community leader, Rhea Lana has been recognized as 2016 Business Executive of the Year in her hometown of Conway, Arkansas.
Rhea Lana Riner, Founder & President, Rhea Lana’s Franchising System
But what Rhea Lana sees as the real reward is: “I believe in this business model and what it does for families. Not only does it allow me the unique opportunity to help empower women who can spend a few weeks twice a year focusing on their business, but it allows me to bless my own community,” says Rhea Lana. “I am honored to lead a company that makes decisions based off who we are and what we value. It is what sets us apart from other consignment events.”
The company plans to continue growing its footprint across the United States by adding more Rhea Lana’s Franchises throughout all 50 states and are looking for women or men who love their community and can put up and run the events by applying the company’s core values and following the model that is in place.
As for Rhea Lana, she has even bigger goals: “I aspire to lead and empower women in business. Many of our owners have never been business owners prior to purchasing a franchise. We are focused on training and education as they learn to navigate this business. I aspire to inspire other women and moms in communities across the U.S. to step out of their comfort zones and lean into whatever it is they are interested in,” concludes Rhea. “Sometimes, you just need the courage to get started!”