Explain your reasons for starting an Etsy vintage shop.
The short answer to this question is that I have always wanted to have some sort of junk/vintage shop ever since I was a little kid. Thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets, etc., have been some of my favorite places on earth for as long as I can remember.
In the summer of ‘08, the restaurant that I work (now part time) at closed down for two weeks for cleaning and to get new floors. A little mechanism went off in my mind. “I need an activity and an income while the diner is closed!” That is when, what i so lovingly refer to, “the shoes” started. The first items in the shop were vintage and thrifted shoes of my own that I decided to let go of. As soon as I started, it just snowballed. I was thrilled with my early sales and even after the diner opened back up, I kept up the buying and listed regularly.
Where do you store all your items for the shop and how do you store all these items?
(see above picture...amazing!)
When I found out that I was pregnant this spring I realized that my “etsy room” was going to be quickly and happily transforming into a baby nursery! My wonderful husband and father-in-law came to the rescue and transformed an entire wall of our front room (which triples as my etsy space, a dining area and our band’s practice/music space) into floor to ceiling shelving for my shoes with my packing desk snug in the middle of them all.
I used this photo of myself with “the shoes” for an ad in N.E.E.T. this September. The packing table is really a changing table that I purchased and it works perfectly because it is at a comfortable height to stand and work at. In the drawers are canvas sneakers and sandals, and in the cupboard portion I keep the purses/wallet/odds and ends that pop up in the shop also.
What is your most favorite pair of vintage shoes you own?
My favorite pair of vintage shoes right now are these beautiful cobalt blue strappy gladiator/ballet style flats that I purchased from the lovely Anja Verdugo of Clever Nettle.
Close runner ups are these from pineapplemint:
image via pineapplemint
image via OldBaltimoreVintage
and last, but not least, these from kenaione:
What is your favorite vintage era for shoes and why?
For wearability I would have to say 80s. The 80s go back and reproduce and are influenced by every past era before it. I love the amazing flow of leather and wood shoes that came out of Brazil in the late 70s and early 80s. They were sexy, saucy and made to last! As for look and aesthetic, I LOVE the 1930s/40s, especially the shape of the oxford heels from that era.
love these from her shop!
Consciously? I’d say about 10 years ago around the time that I got my own car (a super nerdy white Chevy Lumina mini van) and started thrifting for myself. But long before that (middle school?) I can remember my mom giving me the best round toe rust suede “hobo” oxford flats that she had purchased at a yard sale in Canarsie, Brooklyn (where she had a house for about 15 years of my childhood). So, in all reality, thanks to my thrifty parents, my vintage shoe collection probably started in my super early years!
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Personally? I would say somewhere in the 80 pairs range. As for the shop inventory, it is at a little over 200 pairs at the moment with 170ish online and 30+ more waiting to be photographed and listed.
Which item is your favorite in the shop right now?
Honestly I CAN NOT believe these high heels are still around! I love them!
These peep toes:
& these comfy moccasin oxfords:
(she couldn't choose just one, and I don't blame her!)
Which states have you gone thrifting and which was your favorite?
OOh this is going to be a fun list, and in no particular order: NY, NJ, CT, VT, ME, VA, NC, SC, FL, CO, UT, MT, CA, OR, ID, SD, IL, OH… and possibly a few more in between. Favorites have to be in my home state of New York, and also Oregon. The Goodwill bins are the stuff that dreams are made of to someone coming in from NYC and there are tons of other good shops and stores there too!
Is there an item you sold that was hard to let go?
Number one regret:
There were tons more in the size 6 (tiny!) range that were hard to let go of, but for reality based purposes there was no reason to keep them. Now at least I know to keep something for a little while if I love it, to see if I actually work it into my wardrobe, before deciding to sell it off right away.
5 words to describe yourself:
Talkative, patient, cosmic, hilarious, daring.
Since you have a baby on the way, will you be on maternity leave from your Etsy shop? What are your plans?
Phill and mine’s first baby, a girl, is due Dec. 8th. That is a little scary since the before holidays at etsy is often my best times of the year! I will be relying on my husband to help me with all of the packing and shipping up until that point and then afterwards, I will probably close the shop down for a few weeks, allowing customers to continue purchasing shoes, but not promising anything shipping wise. I guess I am just going to see how I feel, play it by ear and keep in contact with all of my wonderful customers the best that I can.
As for right now I am still serving 2 days a week at the restaurant I work at and will keep doing that as long as I can. I look forward to being able to stay home with the baby for as long as possible while still keeping the store up and running. If I didn’t have my own business and my income from Etsy, there would be no way that I could imagine being a stay at home mom realistically- so for that I am very grateful and excited. It has always been my goal to make “the shoes” my full time job, but at the same time have never found the real reason or courage to fully leave my restaurant job (I will probably go back to part time after some quality stay at home time with the baby!) so this will be my chance to see if I can really do it.
(Agh, so excited for you!)
Since you’ve been around on Etsy, what advice would you give to sellers, particularly new ones?
New sellers, welcome! It may seem daunting to open a shop with so many other great shops established, but that is the wonderful part about Etsy! Your listings will be right up there with the big dogs.
I think that the number one piece of advice that I have for new sellers is to pay careful and close attention to the quality of your photos. Good lighting, good thumbnail cropping, and clear/bright/visually descriptive images are the only physical “connection” that your potential customers have with your items. Don’t settle for “just so.” Make your photos pop! Even if you are just getting started, and you don’t have the best camera out there, you can always re-shoot and improve.
Uncluttered backgrounds and natural lighting do wonders for a variety of products, so don’t be afraid to experiment and upgrade your listings as your photos get better.
Start a twitter and network with other sellers and your customers.
Re-list some of your best items every now and again to get them back to the top of the searches.
Consider advertising on blogs! There are a variety of Etsy/vintage/handmade etc. blogs out there that offer very affordable advertising, and even if you do it a month at a time here and there, it still gets the word out.
Lastly, don’t give up! Remember that sales will ebb and flow. Nothing is as consistent or “solid” when you work for yourself, but that is the trade off for the freedom and satisfaction you will get from running your own shop.
Hope you enjoyed the interview! I love how her personality really shines through in the answers.