TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A former engineer is living her dream of owning her own business and styling folks in Tampa Palms in designer garb for cheap.
Amber Watt is the owner of an Uptown Cheapskate franchise store, located at 16031 Tampa Palms Boulevard West. Those looking to buy, sell or trade clothing, shoes and accessories can walk into the location, no appointments are necessary. Cash is paid on the spot after an item is evaluated, making Uptown Cheapskate different from a consignment shop.
Sellers receive 30 to 35% of what the store will then offer the item for, Watt explained to 8 On Your Side.
Watt said they don’t discriminate on brands they carry. She said they have everything from Target brands to Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and more.
Watt herself had an interesting beginning. She started off her career as an engineer, but knew she always wanted to own her own business.
“I was born for this. I was born to own a company and be my own boss. I’ve always been told I’m a good leader, and I feel like I am, so it’s just a natural fit for me,” she said.
She said she has always been a “thrifter” throughout her life.
“I grew up, I don’t want to say [we were] poor, but we didn’t have a lot of money, so I just grew up learning it,” she said. “I get so excited when I go to thrift stores and I find treasures. Somebody will say, ‘I love the blouse you’re wearing!’ [I’ll say] ‘Yeah, I paid $2 for it!”
Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, Watt offered some advice that she would have given her younger self in the engineering industry, prior to moving into business and fashion.
She said she feels as though she was “very naïve” and didn’t initially see a problem when she was often the only woman on a team of engineers working on a project.
“I wanted to be known for my skills and what I contributed to a team and not just because I was a woman. I was very worried because I was going into a male-dominated workforce that I was going to be judged just because I’m a female and they would promote just for that. I really wanted to be known for the work that I did,” Watt said.
She spoke as though talking to herself 10 years ago.
“It just became so obvious that there was a much larger problem and I wish I would’ve addressed that earlier and been more strongly opinionated on hiring more women, when I had the opportunity, on to our teams,” she said.
Ten years later, Watt now has control over the third-party vendors she deals with and said if they don’t represent her values, she doesn’t have to work with them. She’s enjoying her flexibility and the day-to-day operations of Uptown Cheapskate.
“We’re a product of the community. Whatever the community has in their closets, that’s what they bring us,” she said.