Event Planning to Vintage Clothing Entrepreneur

Vintage Clothing Entrepreneur

June 2001

Hi Anthony!

It sure has been a while! I guess I really wanted to have something to report before firing off another update… and I now I do. Last Wednesday I returned from five days in LA where I went on a vintage clothing buying trip. I went around to the ‘ragyards’, the massive warehouses of used clothing where ‘pickers’ select the vintage and re-saleable used clothing. Some of the clothing is sent off to 3rd world countries and finally the remainder unusables are recycled into rags or ‘wipers’. It was hard work and probably somewhat more physical than I’d anticipated (the barrels of clothing came up to my chest – I had to hang over the edge, submerged almost entirely in order to get at the last pieces in the bottom, feet waving madly as i toppled into the clothing abyss!) but totally satisfying. I learned lots and it was terrific to have a coach and expert like my biz partner on hand – very encouraging as he said that just about everything I picked out would have been what he would have taken (and then explained why he wouldn’t have taken a few select pieces – again very helpful). (He is dealing only in men’s vintage clothing and I am working with women’s 40′s and 50′s duds, with the exception of Western style clothing – because I love that cowboy stuff!). I am now ready to go into ragyards by myself because I know what to expect and i can talk the talk and walk the walk. There are a couple of warehouses here in Vancouver but mainly ragyards in Canada are closer to the garment industry center – Montreal. I hope to orchestrate a trip out there before Fall.

In 3 weeks time I am off to the Rockabilly Rebel weekender in Indianapolis IN! I have paid for a stall there to sell the clothes! I left a big bag of stuff in LA to have shipped over (avoiding customs malarky) and my biz partner is splitting the booth with me so my overhead is lower plus we’ll have enough merchandise and I’ll have someone on hand who’s an old pro. It’ll be great to have the help with the pricing, though I found even just during my stay in LA i was able to get a good idea of how much stuff goes for… I have registered my business and bought the domain name for the web site. Before i left for LA I did a whack of translation (english to french) for a friend who is a web site designer so – voila! – a trade! and I will have my web site made by a professional! I am going to start by selling on ebay (and the booth of course). Bought a digital camera and have ADSL internet access at home now.

Also, (sorry – this is the most all-over-the-map description of my business! but i’m excited to tell you!) I am investigating manufacturing a small line of clothing in a retro style. I designed 6 pieces and had the patterns drafted and samples made so i could get a quote from a manufacturer here. I brought my samples to LA with me and after consulting with biz partner am making some changes and aiming to have stuff ready in time for the big rockabilly festival in England in October so I can wholesale to my partner who will have a booth there. The possibilities for the English market are excellent and I will probably find it easier to wholesale or export there than to the US, given Canada & UK relations and also the fact that i’m a UK passport holder. (NAFTA / Free trade, you say? Makes not a wit of difference to the small business! A total disappointment!). Friday night I was out at a bar wearing a dress of my design and I got lots of compliments including a woman who ran up to me from across the room (honestly!) with a wild look on her face to tell me she loved my dress. She lives in San Francisco. When I told her she would be able to buy her own in a few months time she was over the moon. We exchanged email addresses!

My parents have turned out to be wonderfully supportive of my new venture. I spent the day at their place today. My mum is an excellent seamstress so was able to help me and teach me how to do some of the inevitable repairs on some of the vintage (from LA) stock. The boyfriend is also totally on-side and interested and helpful. In fact last night it turns out we both had dreams about shopping for vintage clothes! And my dear friend in Rome, the one who i help out by reading her PhD chapters, is hugely supportive and cheering loudly from overseas!

This may not be the thing ‘forever’ but I think that i’m really onto something here. My apartment floor is covered in piles of clothes (going to buy a rack first thing tomorrow!) but it feels to me like Xmas round here! In LA I bought some new source books on 50s clothing that I couldn’t find here and I just LOVE reading about what I’m doing. None of it seems like WORK! Well, okay, some bits feel a little more like work than others but mostly it is all play and so far it feels like I’m going to be really good at this game! I have some excellent connections and I’ve also had a share of good luck I think, but more than anything, the thing that’s fuelling me is the notion of making money at something I so enjoy, without reserve.

What’s so amazing to me is that all of this was just an idea and a name in April, but by May it was the “Real Thing” and now its all happening.

I can’t wait to give you the next report. Everything we’ve talked about, I like to think, is in the back of my head, or even sometimes at the front of my head – what i mean is its all there to access and as puzzle pieces fall into place it all comes back to me. Plus I’m happy to have our correspondence and my notes to pursue when i need to. But for the time being i’m full steam ahead.

Thank you for everything so far, Anthony – you have made the world of difference.

I hope you’re happy and all’s well with you.

Take care,
Stephanie.

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