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Christina: an entrepreneurial fashionista

Fashion truck owner overcomes struggle to build credit history and a business at the same time

Christina Ruiz is the owner of TopShelf Boutique, San Francisco’s first-ever fashion truck, opened in May 2012. A spin on the popular food truck movement, TopShelf is a traveling store full of hip yet affordable clothes. Owner Christina is a former bartender and fashion school graduate who fell into school debt. After paying it off, she was left with a damaged credit score and little savings – challenges for a small business entrepreneur. 

Christina says, “I went to fashion school and racked up a little bit of debt. I paid it all off but it damaged me for a while. And, you know, ten years later when you want to start a business that stuff comes back to haunt you.”

That’s when she enrolled in Lending Circles at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center where she received the small business supports she needed to launch her truck. Christina’s story has been featured by Grist Magazine and in NPR’s California Report:

She’s been astounded by the program’s impact. “I couldn’t even get a credit card for a $100 limit from my bank before the lending circle. Afterwards without even re-applying I just starting getting letters in the mail saying you’ve been pre-approved for $1,000 and then $5,000.”

With a regular following and a booming business, Christina was able to realize another dream: to open a boutique. In June of 2012, she was thrilled to announce the opening of a her new shop inside San Francisco’s Crocker Galleria. Watch her story here: