Values-Based Gift Holiday Tip #2: BUY VINTAGE
It’s no secret that shopping local is a good way to use your values in your holiday shopping and gift buying. You’ll probably hear me say that over and over during this series. But going beyond buying local, buying vintage helps curb the problems we have with fast fashion in this country. The combination of replicating runway looks at affordable costs and our desire as a culture for something “new” has led to around 80 billion pieces of clothing being consumed worldwide each year. In fact, the global average number of times a garment is worn before a woman throws it away is only 7 times. Fast Fashion is designed to fall apart so that you will spend more money, and the average garment worker makes less than a living wage under extremely strenuous and unsafe conditions. Recently, we’ve seen a trend in eco-friendly and sustainable clothing which will hopefully help as well as companies who are creating better oversight for their plants and paying better wages. It can still be a challenge to find these options locally and on demand though, and so you can always hit your local vintage shop!
While living in Connecticut for two years, I had the privilege of getting to know Melissa Gonzales and becoming a frequent patron of her store and all the beauty within. I did some accounting and consulting work with her and even helped her out in the shop when she was in a bind! I don’t ever really want to work in a brick and mortar retail store again, but I do love spending an afternoon in the store of one of my friends and clients!
Melissa has a true love of small business and everything vintage. She always looks like she just left a magazine shoot! And you can see how her many years as an art teacher influences her store every time you walk in. Enjoy learning more about Melissa and Vintanthro below. Definitely stop by and see her if you are ever in New Haven, and put “visit local vintage shop” on your holiday to-do list today! You can also shop her current finds on Etsy!
Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it?
I sell vintage items along with small batch handmade goods in a boutique atmosphere. I handpick everything myself, sourcing from thrift shops, estate sales, private buying appointments, flea markets and my own personal collection. My customers run the gamut from students to housewives to artists. I loved going to flea markets as a child, began collecting vintage in high school and worked at a vintage store in college - so it's safe to say that thrifting is in my blood. I've been a business owner since 2011 when I formed Vintanthromodern Vintage, LLC.
Why did you start your business?
Vintanthromodern began in 2011 as an online business. I began selling my vintage collection on Etsy, then moved to doing local pop-ups in New Haven, Connecticut. When a local vintage shop owner allowed me to organize the First Ever Vintage Fashion Expo in her retail space, the seeds for a brick and mortar business were sown. Since then, I've operated my business out of a traveling vintage shop called the Vintanthromobile, and 3 different locations in New Haven. I started my business because I have a passion for collecting vintage clothing and housewares, reducing my carbon footprint and providing a creative space for gathering and shopping.
What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you?
Doing good has always been at the core of my business philosophy. Owning a small business has made it easy for me to fulfill my passions while still creating an ethical retail experience for my customers. Buying and selling vintage helps keep items out of landfills and helps combat the "Fast Fashion" mentality that plagues our country. Supporting other creative small business owners by providing an arena for them to promote their wares helps support both the local economy and creative culture.
What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started?
My favorite part about running a social good business is the relationships I've forged with like-minded, kindred spirits. There is nothing more powerful than feeling supported by and offering support to one's creative community. The synergy that comes with sharing ideas and resources is a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me. I recently moved my shop into a part of town known as an artist's village -- collaborating with photographers, fashion designers, jewelry-makers, animators, and style makers has helped push me in ways that working alone never would have.
What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business?
The biggest struggle I've faced is balancing the demands of running a business on my own. Not having a business partner has been tough because I so value having someone to bounce ideas off in the moment. Also having someone to share the day to day, and sometimes tedious, responsibilities with is so valuable.
What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years?
In the next 5 years my goal is to make my business the very best it can be. Most businesses aspire to scale up; Having just scaled down, my focus is tightening up operations and using the experience and wisdom i've gained to create a better shopping experience for my customers.
Who are your business icons, heroins, or mentors?
There are so many women I admire in business and beyond. HEROINE: My mother passed on two of the traits most crucial to what I do: having a kick ass work ethic and being a good, decent, human. MENTOR: Carol Orr of local shop English Building Markets took me under her wing when I was just starting out, and I still look to her for advice and inspiration. STYLE ICON: Jaimee Dormer of Coast to Coast Vintage is my social media and style icon - I love what she does! BUSINESS ICON: Rachel DeCavage of Cinder and Salt is such a good example of creating a business with a focus on the environment while being on trend and exciting.
What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business?
Do your homework, look at similar businesses to see how they operate but ALWAYS trust your instincts and be original.
What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?
I haven't had the time to attend anything in the last few years because I'm a full time teacher and a new mom, but I went to Monarch Workshop and loved it. Being in a room full of creative, stylish women exchanging ideas was the ultimate high.
What is the last book you read?
Do magazines count? :)