What began as a summer side hustle of selling vintage Husker apparel acquired from garage sales and thrift stores across Nebraska, blossomed into a full-fledged career.
In early 2020, Allison Wetig opened New Wave in Little Bohemia, and the local community embraced her business with open arms.
“Omaha is the size of city where you can tap into any market and be successful,” Allison says. “It’s not like New York, where it’s so competitive. For aspiring entrepreneurs, mid-sized cities are amazing because you can actually succeed, even if you’re still figuring things out.”
The New Wave was in the second-floor unit above the former Bohemian Café, an apartment zoned as a live/work space, which was perfect for trialing out her business without taking on too much risk.
Contrary to the belief that one must leave their hometown to fulfill their aspirations, Allison holds a different perspective.
“Not that moving isn’t amazing, but I think the grass is greener where you water it,” Allison says. “If you just put effort into your community, people will be responsive, and your life will be enriched.”
The live/work space proved to be more advantageous than initially expected, given the subsequent onset of the pandemic just months later. As a result, New Wave’s opening was delayed, providing ample time for thoughtful renovations, the development of a business plan, and strategic use of social media to generate interest in the brand.
Allison prides herself on how candidly she depicted the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into building your own small-business and brand, and this display of vulnerability on her profiles contributed to the success of New Wave once it opened. Her followers were able to witness her vision come to life first-hand, and they were dying to see the finished product.
“I wanted to open the store that I wanted to shop at,” Allison says. “I wanted to start the podcast that I wanted to listen to. I wanted to make the Airbnb that I wish I could stay at if I was visiting Omaha.”
As anticipated, the perseverance and patience paid off as the local community warmly embraced the New Wave. Managing the high demand for vintage clothing, which emerged as a highly sought-after commodity, posed the greatest challenge throughout her three-year tenure. Consequently, she found herself looking forward to endeavors, seeking a change in direction.
In May 2023, Allison transformed the New Wave space from a clothing shop into a creative living space that features her podcast studio, a photoshoot space and an Airbnb.
The Airbnb reflects her passion for creating beautiful spaces and her commitment to
sustainability. It’s a charming space adorned with vintage homewares, books, unique items from her travels and eco-friendly cleaning products.
The Already Friends podcast now boasts over 100 episodes, with 500+ million downloads. Allison and her co-host Ceara Kirkpatrick speak candidly about entrepreneurship, travel, wellness and community.
One of her most notable achievements is the 1404 Collective, which is conveniently located below her shop in Little Bohemia on the street level. Don’t worry, you can still shop the New Wave brand, you’ll just find it at the 1404 Collective now.
“A lot of people have emulated what I’ve done, and many other secondhand resellers have entered the Omaha market,” Allison says. “I realized I could either fight that or embrace it and use it to my advantage.”
Fearlessly, Allison pivoted her business model, prioritizing collaboration over competition. She founded the 1404 Collective, a rent-a-hanger concept and small business incubator, with two co-owners who were on board with her vision. This shift allows her to focus on the business side of her operations while mentoring the 20+ newcomers who share the space.
This inspired another offering under her New Wave business, which Allison has found incredibly fulfilling: creative consultations. Targeting recent graduates and non-college individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations, these hour-long sessions can cover anything from setting up the business structure to social media to scaling.
“My philosophy has never been to change the world at large,” Allison says. “If I can just make a positive impact in my community, that will create waves in other areas.”