2014-12-18

The Fashion Rut

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Notables: Boots? Thrifted but fancy here and pleather here Giant scarf/wrap? Thrifted but similar here 
Snood? Joe Fresh (sold out but very similar here) Coat? Vintage but similar here Apple? Red Delicious

Last winter I bought myself three pairs of the same black pants. I'm sorry if you thought I was wearing the same pair of pants everyday, I was actually switching it up...
Fast forward a year later and I am once again on the black pants rotation. It's only December 18th and I'm already in the winter fashion rut. That said, it's not a bad rut. Black pants, good boots, a touch of plaid and some quirky details and it truly looks like you care!
I love dresses and impracticality and my very favourite piece of clothing will likely always be this vintage number that can hardly fit under a seat belt but I'm kind of impressed with my sensibility over dressing for the shop in the winter. It's just layers of basics (layers of basics... Is that a bunch of college girls standing in the autumn leaves taking pictures of their Starbucks?) and everything is interchangeable. Like a capsule wardrobe that I will cheat on when I muster the energy to wear a dress again...

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Also, I wore different boots this time. Go me....

2014-12-09

Pyjama Party and Sleeping Bags or Something

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I'm currently on vacation somewhere nice and warm...

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Skirt? Vintage via an Instagram sale Shirt? Zara Heels? Guess, thrifted 
Coat? Vintage (thrifted in the men's section)

...not. The pictures with no coat on are sponsored by a sunny day and bravery.

But it was worth ditching the coat to get a twirl with the full skirt on display. And as if a full circle plaid wool skirt is not awesome enough, the skirt has pockets. And matches perfectly with my newly thrifted blue suede shoes. 
But as much as I love my skirt and shoes, it's my shirt that gave me the most joy. I giggled when I saw that they made a spelling error and wrote 'spleeping bag' instead 'sleeping bag' on the text. Matt and I scored full points for maturity and spent the rest of the day calling each other 'spleeping idiots'...

2014-12-08

Year One

I blinked. And when I opened my eyes, my little shop was a year old.

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To be honest, it's a year and two weeks old by now. I've been trying to write a shop post for two weeks and this is my fifth attempt. I had always hoped to do regular shop posts during the year but there was never enough time or energy...And now that I am writing a shop post, I keep trying to add everythinggggg to it because there is so much to share. There is a line between sharing and not shutting up and I am not finding that sweet spot. Also difficult? Being honest without sounding whiny...
But here we go, shop post attempt number five...

If I could sum up my year, I would say it was really, really awesome.

Maybe you are sitting in a cubicle at a job you don't particularly enjoy or staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m. wondering 'what am I going to do with my life?'. In that moment, owning your own retail space seems like a sweet little dream. You see my Instagram account and I'm going on vintage appointments, hanging sparkly stuff all over my window displays or wearing a crinoline on a Tuesday and you think that would be so very fun. And you're right! It is as fun as you dream it will be.

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(Another great perk of running a retail space. Meeting so many new people and making lovely new friends. Like my girl Nat who came on my opening weekend last year and is now my go-to for texting cute animal pictures...)

There is something about seeing your dream come to life. I can walk in my shop (and curse a little because I am constantly running out of room...ha) and still have this moment of joy over seeing my vision come together and that vision looking, well, pretty adorable.
For me personally, it was affirming to have other people 'get' what I'm doing and to be able to turn this love for fashion into a business. I mean, it started with me just loving fashion, thinking I wanted to be a bridal designer, hating that and then starting a blog, thinking I mayyyybe wanted to be a pro blogger, realizing I sucked at that and years later, finally feeling confident enough in my skill set to take the leap and start a shop. I'm good at picking unique vintage pieces, I'm good at putting clothes together and I'm good at displaying things in an appealing way and I get to turn those talents into my day job. Yup, pinch me. It is kind of a dream.

On the flip side, I could also sum up my year by saying it was really, really hard.

I feel almost like an ungrateful jerk the moment those words leave my mouth (or appear on the page). I really do have a great life. I have a perpetually positive and supportive husband who does not mind when vintage jewellery takes over the dining room and I have perpetually adorable and ungrateful cats who do care that vintage clothing takes over 'their' room. I have a great family, amazing friends and blog readers who genuinely care to support me. I have a lovely home, a mediocre car and a giant closet full of crazy vintage and black pants. Most of all, I have the opportunity to take this chance on a small vintage store and I know that is such a luxury in itself.
And yet, I want to repeat that it is really, really hard.
I was talking to a friend about it and trying to articulate exactly what makes it so difficult. I think part of it is that because your business is tied so closely to your own self that you feel every success and failure and mistake so deeply. You can't shut off your business obligations even when you step away from the shop.
Also worth acknowledging is the fact that retail is a beast. A beast that cares nothing for hard work, visions, excitement and the tender young hearts of starry eyed entrepreneurs.  I think any unexpected business fluctuation can be explained with a small head shake and by muttering 'that's just retail'. Yes, the weather, the time of year and 'events' certainly have a role in determining your sales totals but so often you just can't predict it at all. At all. And when sales are really slow, you get thrown for a huge loop.
'I should re-do my windows.'
'I should re-do my displays.'
'I should re-do all my merch.'
'What am I even doing with my life right now????'

And if it is slow in the shop, it's not like you can stop working or just shut the shop for a few days. You need to still show up, bring in new merch and paste a smile on while you silently beg for that lady to not crush your spirit and ask for a discount on the $30 dress which will be your first in-store sale this week. I come from a landscaping back ground and I'm used to working 6 hours and getting paid for 6 hours. And now I've started a shop and as can be expected, you don't draw a salary as you are growing your business. Personally I've had two really slow periods in this last year and they both came at times when I was working extra hard. The early spring and late fall were really rough. It's just a busy time of year for me; in addition to running the shop and finding, cleaning, fixing and prepping the merch and planning some events, I was also trying to get online collections up and I was really busy at my other job (remember, no salary for a year or two... and I still love landscaping;)). So I would live off my to-do lists everyday and fall into bed at night exhausted from life and yet the shop was so slow that it felt like there was nothing to show for all that hard work and teeth grinding.

I'm not sharing this for sympathy (yes, I am. I need a hug.). I'm sharing this because this is what happens when you start a small business. You get blind sided by how hard it is and you question why you ever, ever disrupted your life to do that stupid thing and follow your dream. I am not special. This little post about the struggle of a small retail business is not unique. And yet, we don't often talk about it because it's kinda crappy to admit that you are not always a shining success. Other shop owners warned me beforehand that it would be tough, especially establishing yourself and building your consumer base. They warned me that is would be slow and you would see your bank account dip and your spirits would dip with your bank account. Maybe your consumption of spirits would rise though... (see what I did there). I believed it when they warned me but I was still shocked at how defeated I could feel.
And so I'm sharing this to be honest. And to encourage anyone in the same boat or hoping to hop on their own boat someday. You have to hustle, you have to have a solid business plan and you have to know some days will royally suck. But it will be worth it because past those terrible days are days when you are living the dream.
I hope to wear crinolines to work for a few more years at least...;)



2014-11-28

Holiday Launch

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(Pic 1, dress SOLD// Pic 2, necklace SOLD, skirt here// Pic 3, necklace SOLD, skirt here, top here)// Pic 4, dress here// Pic 5, dress SOLD)

This is the special time of year when you can go to the grocery store dripping in sequins and no one bats an eye. Everyone just assumes you have a most fabulous holiday party to go. But you don't. Your holiday party is the next day and you just wanted to be over-dressed a few days in a row. Because you can...:) 
And to celebrate that most special time of year, I'm putting out a holiday collection of very pretty things over on my Etsy shop. I think I wrote in one Etsy posting (it's my very favourite in a collection of favourites...and it's on hold so I can't link it) that sequins are my love language and we can extend that sentiment to really anything sparkly. Hence this is basically a collection of things I love. Minus cats though... Can't sell those on Etsy and you should adopt anyways... 

On a side note, I actually celebrated one year with my little shop this week and I have many feelings and thoughts on that (that I do hope to share soon! Feelings and thoughts just take so much energy and focus to write...and deal with) but the best part of making a go of my dreams has always been the support of people who really don't have to care (ei. anyone besides my mom and Matt) but have been cheering me on along the way. As always, thank you, thank you!

And also thank you to Michelle and Chrissy (get on the internet so I can link you!) for all the help with super fun props, fabulous hair (minus my root situation which will be dealt with shortly) and the best cat-eye make-up I have ever had in my life...

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(Pic 1, dress (SOLD)// Pic 2, dress here// Pic 3, necklace here and pins SOLD// Pic 4, necklace (Beautiful Czech crystal necklace not on Etsy because its age is controversial, email me if interested, $120) // Pic 5, green dress SOLD)