7 tips for starting a small business, from the owners of a growing Salt Lake City vintage store

Uncommon recently had its grand opening in a new location in Sugar House.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jacob McDaniel, left, Kanyon Fox and Jewelette Falls, photographed on Saturday, June 3, 2023, run the Uncommon vintage clothing store in Sugar House.

The three young entrepreneurs behind Salt Lake City vintage clothing store Uncommon have each been reselling clothes since high school.

But for Jacob McDaniel, Jewelette Falls and Kanyon Fox, “the ball started rolling, I feel like, when we all teamed up,” said 23-year-old Fox.

Each seemed to bring their own interests and expertise to their formal enterprise, they said. Falls, 23, has an eye for unique feminine clothing. Fox is well versed in pre-’60s vintage and band tees. And McDaniel, 24, can spot rare T-shirts and “always knows a lot about sportswear,” Falls said.

McDaniel also has a degree in visual communication and graphic design, making him the mind behind their logo, business cards and other marketing.

Their first storefront was in a small pink building behind Mrs. Backer’s Pastry Shop on South Temple. They opened there in February 2022, but it wasn’t easy.

McDaniel remembers that some days, only two or three people would come through their door. Eventually, though, they started getting enough traffic that they didn’t have to worry about making rent, he said. Instead, they needed to find a bigger space.

Their new Sugar House location opened on June 3 at 2006 S. 900 East, with racks of vintage clothes mostly organized by color and the rarest tees displayed up on the walls. They sold about 300 items, and felt “such crazy love from the community,” they said via Instagram (@uncommon.saltlake).

Here are seven pieces of advice that McDaniel, Falls and Fox have for would-be entrepreneurs when it comes to starting and running a new business — from the ground up:

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Uncommon vintage clothing store's new Sugar House location on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

1. ‘Make good relationships’

“That’s what’s cool with this business,” Fox said. “We’re providing the space and energy where we can kind of make friends with a lot of these people, and after a while — and these people come in for a while — it feels like they’re your friend.”

For that reason, Fox makes a point not to “treat everyone just like a client.”

“Because it’s going to get boring,” he said, “and it’s going to feel like work.”

2. ‘Involve yourself in other people’s businesses’

Uncommon hosts a monthly market at Publik Space (975 S. West Temple) called Sum Ol’ Market (on Instagram as @sumolmarket), where they bring 25 small local businesses together that don’t have brick-and-mortar locations.

“It’s a very curated space of 25 of our closest friends, all in one building, all doing what they love, and we kind of supply a customer base to them,” McDaniel said.

“But at the same time, we make posts, we make social media content and marketing stuff for them to share to their audiences,” he continued. “And it all ties back to us.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Shoppers browse clothing racks during the grand opening of Uncommon vintage clothing store's new Sugar House location on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

3. ‘Set a goal’

“If I don’t have a goal set in mind for what I’m trying to achieve, it’s just not as focused,” Fox said. “... When I set a clear goal, it’s crazy how much faster I can get done.”

“If you can, in your mind, see what you want to do, the steps to get there are going to come to fruition so much quicker,” he continued.

4. ‘Make a social media presence’

The Uncommon trio tries to share a minimum of two social media posts a day, Falls said.

“And it has to be something different,” she said, “like whether it’s pants one day, tees one day, dresses — so at least two posts a day.”

Falls added that it’s “just crazy how nowadays social media can reach so many people.”

5. ‘Do what you love’

“If that’s what my business revolved around, was picking up things that I wasn’t interested in to make money, I don’t think it would be as successful as it is,” McDaniel said.

“When doing what you love, it might not be the easiest thing, and it might not be the best thing to make a lot of money, and it’s not going to be a get-rich-quick scheme,” he continued. “... It’s going to be tough, you’re going to struggle, and you just have to be OK with that.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Shoppers browse clothing racks during the grand opening of Uncommon vintage clothing store's new Sugar House location on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

6. Learn from your mistakes

“I think a lot of people will have some really hard times and sometimes quit because it’s so hard, or literally just let it set them back because it’s hard,” Fox said.

Success is never guaranteed, and as a business owner, you have to be flexible.

“Trends might change and everything might be so much harder for you the next month, but you have to figure that out,” Fox continued.

Stewing in the setbacks or missteps is “not going to help.”

7. ‘Keep good people around you’

“Your network and the people you keep around you is super important,” McDaniel said.

Treating others with kindness, lifting them up and fostering good and ongoing relationships with your business community — “it can make this whole process so much easier.”