It's a rainy, thundery day here in Conestogo- but our spirits are high and Nat King Cole is crooning in the background (specifically 'Smile'- so how could one possibly not feel compelled to do simply that?!).
Our first week and a half of construction has been a very interesting adventure for this Vintage Girl. Here is a list of what I've learned so far:
-Coming to work is a little like a "Choose Your Own Adventure". There is always a way to get to the store, you simply have to brave the construction crew or take a side-road...every day is a bit different depending on what the crew is working on at that particular moment.
-Proper footwear is important. I made the mistake of wearing white shoes to work the first day of construction (I defy all 'rules' that white should only be worn in certain seasons). Yes- WHITE. With heels. Talk about looking like Bambi on ice as I walked across the torn up street- thank goodness it wasn't raining!
-Chandeliers sway. No-I wasn't re-mounting a production of 'The Phantom of the Opera'. On a day where there was significant 'tampering' going on outside, I looked up to see my heirloom treasures dancing away. But- fear not! They are still intact and disaster was averted.
-I have the best Customers- ever! So many folks have been wonderfully supportive and keen to help as they can. Honestly, a kind word, offer to pass along photos or telling friends about the store is so appreciated. I feel honoured to be here everyday, bringing some beautiful pieces to people's lives.
Has business slowed down? Yes. Am I still worried? Yes. However, I am positive that this, too, is another learning curve for me. I've already started wearing my Wellingtons to work....I'm just working on 'Vintage-ing Up'my hard hat.
More to come...
Happy June dear Auburn Lovelies!
It has been quite some time since I last wrote to you; life has a way of getting very busy in the Spring leading up to summer. There is always work to be done both inside and out- and we have been working diligently at washing, mending and steaming lovely summer frocks for the season. You must come by and see them!
As I sit here this morning sipping my cup of java, the rain is falling softly outside. I'm feeling rather inspired to write (an occupational pastime for this vintage girl) and thought I would write a little note to you all.
As of late, I have seen many postings by friends and colleagues regarding the subject of worth and worthiness. I feel so sad when I read these postings, as I feel deep in my soul that we have not come far enough yet to realize our true potential in this world.
So many Clients come into the store and tell me they are looking for a specific item. Great! I can help! However, they go on to tell me what they don't look good in, what doesn't suit their figure or colouring and what they can't wear. Do you see a pattern? All negatives! Yikes!
We all have 'the old standby' outfit...the one that is (that dreaded word) safe. Trust me: I have one as well. My point is, while it's lovely to have a type or style of clothing we feel good in, it's always good to branch out and try something (gulp) different.
That's why shopping vintage is so much fun: You can try on all kinds of silhouettes and styles in one place. So many folks come into the store, find their usual style and go no further. When I suggest another frock to try on, they often laugh and say things like, "I could never fit into that!", "That will not suit my figure!" or "Well- I'll try it, but it won't look good on me!" I have to say, they are sometimes (and quite often) amazed at how branching out and trying on the 'unthinkable' can make them feel: Radiant.
This is my point: We are all beautiful and deserve to look and feel our best. When someone complements you, say "Thank you"...even if you don't agree. Remember: If someone takes the time to tell you how attractive you are, it must mean it's true.
I love what I do each and every day because I get to see my clients recognize their sparkle. How lucky am I?!
Confidence and bringing out the essence that is uniquely 'you' is infectious. People love and respect those who embrace themselves, and it therefore opens up a cascade of possibilities for others as well. The world can be grey, black and white all it wants...but you can be the splash of colour that dances its way into the monotony and shakes things up a bit. How much fun!
I was once told to wear black, to fade into the woodwork as others shopped in the store. Good advice if you want to be safe. I have tested out this theory...and because I felt 'ho hum' about my attire, my clients weren't inspired to try something new themselves. So- I started wearing pieces outside of my own comfort zone: 1970's maxi dresses with colours and patterns beyond my usual greys and black. I won't lie: I felt ridiculous at first, but it quickly vanished! I felt more energy, sparkle and youthfulness- and I was far more approachable, as many wanted to latch on to that shine. If I could wear it- so could they!
I encourage you all to try stepping out of that comfort zone. Wear that amazing scarf with the crazy pattern you bought on a whim and never wore because you felt it was 'too much'. Dig into the back of your closet for that (gasp) mustard coloured dress you bought with your crazy friend who talked you into buying it three years ago. It's dying to be worn! Embrace the essence that is you and give it a boost. People will notice and appreciate it- and you'll feel amazing!
As I type, I am excited at the possibilities for every one of you. Share your stories with me: I love to hear them! Share your experiences with friends, colleagues and your kids. Fashion really is universal: We all appreciate a great piece of clothing. More importantly, we appreciate the individual wearing it.
Time for me to get dressed for the day....hmmm....perhaps I'll wear sunshine yellow on this rather grey day. Maybe the ducks will let me play in the puddles with them!
Happy 2016 dear friends of Auburn!
Welcome to February- the official month of love and romance. With chilly days and Valentine's Day quickly approaching, we are reminded of that special someone who makes our heart beat faster and makes life complete. Of course, many proposals and engagements occur at this time of year, and I am always so thrilled to hear people's exciting news when they come into the store looking for the perfect gown.
When I first started putting my business plan together a couple years ago, one of my goals was to provide each customer with a printed story about the piece they were purchasing. This is no tall order- and I very quickly realized that it just wasn't possible- despite my good intentions. The beautiful intention is still in the back of my mind- and I do often have the chance to verbally tell customers about where their purchase has come from etc.
Another aspect of the 'story behind the piece' brings me back to something I have written about before: The clothes sometimes 'speak' to me-or I have a special bond with them, and a story of their past weaves a tale in my imagination.
I especially feel a connection to wedding gowns. Perhaps it's the little girl in me that wants to believe in true love, perhaps it's the love I see in the beautiful couples who come to the store and share their excitement...regardless, I am a hopeless believer in finding that special someone who seeks only your eyes in a room of crowded strangers.
For instance, the gown in the photo accompanying this missive is very special.
In my imagination, this is what I see:
The original bride's style was classic, simple and traditional. It's lovely, yet simple, detatchable train begins at the shoulder (very popular for the time) and is chapel length. With these details in mind, I imagine a church wedding, attendants dressed in the palest of yellow shift dresses, daisies and baby's breath. The father-of-the-bride cried (but don't most of them?!) The train was then removed, leaving a gorgeous gown on its own, as the bride visited with guests and drifted through the day in happiness.
Back to reality.
As weddings cost more and more with every year, brides are turning to the beauty of vintage gowns for their special day, and with that choice comes a very unique gift: a dress with a story of it's very own that is one-of-a-kind.
Considering vintage for special occasions is a personal choice. It may just be the lace that attracts the bride-to-be, and yet it is still a piece of history she can work with at an affordable cost to get the perfect gown that sparkles as much as she does.
Hello Auburn Family!
This month marks the 1 year anniversary of Auburn Vintage Clothiers. Where has the time gone?!
As I was opening up today, I was thinking of how extremely thankful I am to have taken this 'plunge' into being a small business owner. While at times it has not been easy (like those pesky 3am worries that creep in), the past year has been very rewarding and eye-opening on many levels.
Here is a small list of things I have learned on this journey:
1- The experts are right- a Business Plan is a very good idea- but that doesn't mean it has to be filled with a ton of business lingo. I decided to look at it in a somewhat different light for myself: I created a 'Mission Statement' of sorts- something I could look back on when faced with various challenges, questions or even just a morale boost on a particularly frustrating day (yes- even in 'Vintage-Land' we have not-so-great days).
2- Be present. Looking your clients in the eye and giving them your utmost attention is amazingly refreshing for both parties. A present host makes a present visitor. Recognizing things that aren't said are sometimes just as important (sometimes more so) as those said. A smile and kind word goes a LONG way.
3- Be gracious with all the advice that comes your way. Much like a new parent who has many 'experts' giving opinions on childcare- YOU are the parent. Ultimately, the choice is yours when given the advice of others. Having said that, many people give very helpful tips and mean well. You'd never want to be too stubborn not to bend and flow with new ideas. Be firm in your decisions though-waffling doesn't help (and take it from me- some of those 3am worry sessions is what happens. Once I make the decision, sleep inevitably comes).
4-Know when to go home at the end of the day. My daughter and I still have breakfast and dinner together. Those times together are precious. It's a good reality check for me after burying myself in work all day. We often do 'check-ins' through the day too- just to make sure we are ok. Family is what grounds us- and just like your business needs to be maintained- so do your loved ones. Besides, your children grow up too quickly to begin with!
5- Don't give up! I have learned the value of the term "Patience is a virtue" this year. Retail is fickle and sometimes you feel like you have made the wrong choice. I recognized early on that even just having people walk through my doors was a good day- as it is not just about the buying- it's about building relationships, creating an inviting atmosphere and passing on the passion that ignited you to open your business in the first place. Don't misunderstand- I am a single mom on a very tight budget, so every dollar counts- but I certainly won't give up after a few bad days.
6- Hire a great accountant. This speaks for itself- but I needed to mention it. Bar none- it was the best decision I could have made, as it has allowed me to focus on the store instead of agonizing over spreadsheets and numbers. Believe me, it would not have been pretty if I had!
The list truly goes on and on- but the above is a great start. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would be a small business owner today, I would never have believed them. There were simply too many obstacles (in my mind, at least) in my path. Trust me- if I can do this- anyone can.
I am a lucky woman- and I have you all to thank. So-thank you so very much for being with me on this journey. I hope to work with you all for many years to come.
This is my favourite time of year- when the days are long and evenings are perfect for long strolls and conversations by candlelight on the patio. It's a time for many to take a deep breath and remember all they are thankful for.
Summer is also the time for celebrations- particularly weddings. Many clients are coming in to Auburn looking for a special piece to wear for such an event. I absolutely love seeing someone emerge from the fitting room, a look of delight on their face when they see themselves in the mirror. Exclamations of "I feel pretty!" and "Wow- the pilates class really does pay off!" can be heard by many. This is the season where fresh fruit and vegetables are in abundance- and we all just feel GOOD!
I often wish I could bottle up all this beautiful energy to savour November-March...sigh
It is evident that we become very 'aware' in the summer. Perhaps it's time off and a bit of 'slow-down'...but I also believe it is a time to reflect. This is where nostalgia comes in...
Certain clothing brings about nostalgic feelings for most of us. I can't begin to explain how many women see the bridal section in the back of the store and begin to talk about their own gowns- where they are, whether they fit anymore and sometimes I get to hear that they wore their grandmother's gown and that their own daughter is going to carry on that tradition. Wow. Lots of precious memories there.
Just as special to witness is the young women who come into the store and start dreaming about their own wedding. They touch the gowns in awe and with a sense of respect. It's like there is a whisper of "Not Yet. Be patient" in the air. They move on- at least for now.
I watch all these people come and go, leaving shimmerings of their essence. At the end of each day, I am so thankful for the people who grace this place with their presence.
Having said that- the life of a sole-proprietor is lonely at times. Sometimes the dedication to each piece feels inadequate in comparison with a career that could change the world in a far bigger way. I may even lose sight of why I do what I do- and whether or not it's important.
Then something happens to bring me back...
I have a secret.
I want to write. Not necessarily be a writer of novels, screenplays or any blockbuster. I just want-to-write.
In all the flury of starting the store, sourcing pieces, steaming, mending, cleaning and accounting, I forgot why I really wanted this life: To give me the opportunity to be with my sweet daughter as much as I still can and to write my thoughts down daily. This store gives me inspiration for that. But- I forgot.
A few weeks ago, someone came to see me and handed me a book full of blank pages. Audrey's face grinned at me from the cover.
"You are a writer. Write."
So I am.
Thank you for reminding me, dear friend.
The signs are all there for you to pursue your goals, friends. Listen to those who know your heart and value your worth. Remember to tell those you love how much they mean to you and include them in your life. Be an encourager.
This store is my chance to pursue my dreams on many levels. I will re-read this blog to remind myself why I created all this in the first place.
I hope this has inspired you in some small way today.