For most fashion bloggers, to garner a 100,000 plus fan following is a feat in and of itself, but for Lipscomb alumna Bethany Halford (’09), who graduated with a Master’s of English Language Learning, and her best friend and business partner Amanda Jerkins, that is only the beginning. Since the launch of the pairs Whoa, wait. Walmart? blog four years ago, the duo has achieved an even greater feat: the launch of their Walmart-exclusive clothing line.
Since 2013, Halford, who serves as CEO of Whoa Brand, LLC, and Jerkins, who serves as the COO, have shared their trendy and affordable Walmart finds on their Instagram account, and have become what Halford calls “budget-friendly, mass-market personal shoppers.”
Halford says it all began when she launched a personal blog with a reoccurring feature called Whoa, wait. Walmart? which highlighted low-priced, fashion-forward finds from Walmart. One day, on a play-date with Jerkins and their children, Halford showed Jerkins a pair of $15 leather sandals she had discovered at the superstore.
“Amanda mentioned that we should start sharing Walmart finds and I explained that I already had already had started sharing them on my blog, but that I was thinking about letting them stand alone,” said Halford. “That's when I asked her if she wanted to join me.
“Amanda and I both live on tight budgets, and this project is our reality,” Halford continued. “We love Anthropology and West Elm, but we can't afford to regularly shop there. Walmart has come a long way in terms of being on-trend, but we'd like to help them get a little further in that effort. We want everyone with a budget to stick to be able to dress and decorate well.”
A native of Bentonville, Arkansas, which is the hometown of Walmart Stores, Inc., Halford says she grew up shopping at Walmart with her mother’s employee discount.
“My mom worked at Walmart’s home office for 26 years before retiring and taking a position with a supplier,” said Halford. “As a teenager, I shopped there begrudgingly. Then one day that changed, and shopping there came with bragging rights – ‘you'll never believe where I got this!’"
Her fondness of Walmart continued to grow through the rising success of their Whoa, wait. Walmart? Instagram account, and in February 2017, the duo was approached by Topson Downs, a California-based garment company, to create their own Walmart-exclusive clothing line.
Officially launched in Spring 2017 on Walmart.com, the Whoa, Wait. fashion line includes misses, maternity and plus-size options, and not one item is above $22.
“We love our line and handle the product development of the collections,” said Halford. “We choose styles, fabrics, prints, colors- all with the help of our supplier's design team. We own the trademark ‘Whoa, Wait.’ and license that brand to our supplier to put on the garments.”
As business partners, Halford and Jerkins collaborate on all company decisions and product development for the apparel line, as well as split the workload of their posting schedule across all social channels. Jerkins is shopping stores across the Nashville area and Halford is shopping all stores in the Northwest Arkansas area.
“Four years ago, Amanda and I wanted this to grow into a job, but we didn't quite know what that would look like,” said Halford. “Influencer marketing wasn't really a thing yet, so we went from no revenue to a little more each year via affiliate links, paid product promotions, magazine ad work for national brands and finally our product line.
“Our audience makes us so proud and we sincerely view them as friends. We have never paid to get followers, or hired companies to do the legwork for us, but instead it has grown organically from friends sharing it with their friends. Our audience is a positive Walmart-shopping audience, which is a rare gem.”
As self-titled “style soul mates,” Halford and Jerkins say they want to continue to grow their clothing line to help women have fashion-forward styles, while staying on a Walmart-budget.
Halford currently resides in Arkansas with her husband Adam Halford (’11), who graduated from Lipscomb with a master’s in conflict resolution and worked in the admissions office for seven years, and their two daughters.
For more information on Whoa, wait. Walmart? visit: whoawaitwalmart.com or follow them on Instagram at @whoawaitwalmart.