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THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2016
The Rockaway Times
Women of Rockaway:
TARA MCKIERNAN & BETH WAYTOWICH OF END OF THE A
ByKatieMcFadden
Who runs the peninsula? Wom-
en. A large number of local busi-
nesses and organizations are
owned and operated by females.
And they deserve recognition. As
part of an ongoing series, the Rock-
awayTimes isprofiling local female
entrepreneurs eachweek.Thisweek
is TaraMcKiernan&BethWaytow-
ich, co-owners of End of the A.
The ladies of the End of the A
took a unique approach to the
retail business by taking it on the
road. They launched Rockaway’s
first mobile fashion boutique in
an eye-catching pink truck in May
2014. In September 2015, they be-
came a more permanent fixture
in the neighborhood when they
opened their first brick and mor-
tar shop on Beach 129th Street.
End of the A is a boutique shop
specializing in mostly women’s
clothing, accessories and unique
items that you wouldn’t find in a
typical retail store. With their brick
and mortar shop, they also offer
things likehomegoods, plants and
even offer a tea bar, which they’ll
be re-launching this summer with
a variety of iced teas. Tara McKier-
nan andBethWaytowich run both
the boutique café and mobile
truck and are assisted by interns,
MorganMack andEricaLakov.
McKiernan and Waytowich,
friends since high school, were on
different paths before they decided
to join together on their business
venture. Waytowich had studied
communications and went on
to get a masters in media studies
from the New School. She worked
in a real estate office and then for
International Registries shipping
company. McKiernen already had
a hand in the fashion world with
a bachelors in Fashion Merchan-
dizing from LIM College and ex-
perience working in retail, helping
to open and manage stores, and
doing merchandizing and product
development. However, the ladies
decided tomake some moves with
a mobile business at a point where
they felt stuck. “Iwasdoingproduct
development and it was the type of
job where I was working in a cubi-
cle and I had no creative outlet and
I was going crazy. Frommy experi-
ences helping open retail stores for
other companies, I started to real-
ize that I could do this myself. I’m
thankful for the skills that I gained
in previous jobs, but I made the
best decision of my life when I left,”
McKiernan said. “We were both at
an impasse in life. I had just gradu-
ated grad school and I wasworking
but I wasn’t happy and I was at a
pointwhere I thought, do I quit and
start new, or keep going? I had no
idea what I wanted to do, so when
Tara said she had this crazy idea of
starting a mobile boutique, I was
like, ok, sure,”Waytowichsaid.
Insteadofjumpingintoanexpen-
sive risk with a brick and mortar
store, the ladies took a chance on
mobile vending. They began tak-
ing classes to learn about running
abusiness inpreparation. Itwason
their way home from one of these
classes that their wild idea started
to come to life. “We drove by the
pool cleaning business in Howard
Beach and there was a truck for
sale. It was on sale for an awesome
price and we decided we were go-
ingtodoit,”McKiernansaid.Thela-
diespurchasedthetruck,andtrans-
formed it over time into themobile
boutique, which they affectionately
nicknamed “Howie,” paying hom-
age Howard Beach. They launched
Memorial Day Weekend 2014 and
it has been a wild ride since. They
found that with a truck comes
some unique challenges, like un-
expected flats, failing generators
and more, but those challenges
were just a test run that would
eventually lead to something big-
ger. “With a truck, you sort of de-
pend on the weather, but with a
brickandmortar, youcanbeopen
year roundand it’smorepredicta-
ble. The goal was to open a store,
but we decided to see if the truck
worked out first and see what the
neighborhood response would be
before taking the next leap of faith,”
McKiernansaid.
After a successful run with the
truck, the ladies decided to take the
next step. “Going brick and mortar
wasanaturalprogression.Thetruck
had been open for two summers
and was doing well,” Waytowich
said.Themotivationtogobrickand
mortar also came at a time when
Waytowich, who has cystic fibro-
sis, had a major setback. “Around
November 2014, I started getting
really sick and couldn’t breathe
anymore. My lungs had started to
collapse and starting in Decem-
ber I had to be on oxygen 24/7, so
I wasn’t able to do much,” Way-
towich said. “I didn’t want to just
do the truck by myself. With Beth
not being around I sort of thought
whatwouldbe thebest thing todo
so that when all of this is over, we
could both work together again
like it was on the truck,” McKier-
nan said. In July 2015, Waytowich
had a double lung transplant. As
Waytowich recovered,McKiernan
kept her in the loop as she paved
the way to their next big ven-
ture. End of the A Boutique Café
opened its doors in September
2015 on Beach 129th Street. “Beth
was mymotivation. I thought that
if she could handle the deck of
cards dealt to her, I could do this,”
McKiernan said. As Waytowich
recovered, she found the shop
to be a place of motivation in re-
turn as it gave her somewhere to
walk to and from. “It helped me
rehabilitate,” she said. Waytowich
gradually returned to work at the
newshop inDecember 2015.
Having the brick and mortar
shop has allowed the ladies to ex-
pand their line of products. They
have home goods, plants, a small
men and kids line, a tea bar and
even a new co-worker, a French
bulldog named Margo. Howev-
er the days of the truck are far
from over. Howie will be making
a comeback this summer, with
the ladies taking turns between
the truck and shop. It will be lo-
cated outside of the Beach 129th
Street shop for thisMemorial Day
Weekend and will have a pres-
ence at Riis Park Beach Bazaar on
weekends and occasional appear-
ancesonBeach97thStreet.
End of the A Boutique Café, lo-
cated at 437 Beach 129th Street is
open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tues-
days through Sundays. The truck
will be open on weekends. Follow
End of the A on Facebook or Insta-
gram for updates, check out www.
endofthea.com or call the shop at
718-490-1412.
Beth Waytowich and Tara McKiernan