Meet the ladies behind Tahoe University. Erin Wilkinson and Marne Bormann are co-owners and cousins. Both midwesterners, they were drawn to Truckee like everyone else here: for the postcard surroundings, and most importantly, a welcoming community to raise their families in. As transplants, they were overwhelmed by the reception and friendly faces they encountered upon arrival and felt inspired to make their vision come to life.
With a background in merchandising for some of your favorite department stores, Erin has an eye for what women (and men) want to wear. Bringing influence from New York, Paris and Milan to our small town isn't as far-fetched as one might think. With inspiration from the beauty of the area and a melting pot of creatives that come from all over, Erin believes it's possible to have style at altitude that is carefree but never boring.
In addition to fashion, Erin loves interior design and has curated a space on the second floor of the store to showcase her vision of the modern mountain home. No more are you limited to carved bear statues or antlers. Ever the entrepreneur, expanding this portion of Tahoe University is just one of many ambitious goals Erin has on the horizon.
Marne has the easy going presence you often feel when you enter the store, staying cool and collected even as she wears the vast number of hats required to keep the operation moving. She manages the chaotic day-to-day nature of a growing business by doing whatever is needed to GSD. Oh, and did we mention she also is a mom of 4?
This time last year, in their first winter open for business, the snow was so high, the streets were barely accessible and the power went out for days on end. Still, the ladies kept their composure and a bottle of whiskey (or a Bud Light, as Marne prefers). Now they look back on it with a healthy sense of humor and are ready to tackle the next storm. They live by the motto they've adopted, 'No Bad Days'. The views, the people, the attitude; it really is hard to shake this place.
What makes Tahoe University more than just a store though, is the vision Erin and Marne have to create something bigger: a lifestyle brand reminiscent of a college. They want to foster that sense of ‘alumni’ pride among locals, part-timers and transplants that share a common love for this special place. Their dreams are big, but they aren't afraid to get after them. They know the importance of being examples of driven, successful women to their kids and their community.
This includes leading by example in philanthropy as well. They are passionate in their support of Tahoe SAFE Alliance, which provides assistance to survivors of intimate partner/domestic violence and sexual violence, providing clothing and monetary support (including proceeds from their doorman, Zoltar). To join in supporting this organization, check out the ways you can help on their website.
The sweetest part of the experience, though, is sharing it as family and friends. The pair are never short on laughs, cuss words or style as they navigate the ups and downs of owning a business. And as a bonus for their hard work, they have brought together both of their families, employees and customers to create an even bigger extended family. There truly are no bad days when you’re with the #tahoeucrew.
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'Tales from the Till' is a blog series featuring stories and wisdom from behind the counter of Tahoe University. Say hi next time you pass through or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us what made your in-store experience memorable.