As a vintage seller, I often wonder how other successful ladies run their business. Being your own boss can be amazing, as well as challenging, so having a support base is very important. I am so blessed to surround myself with successful, wonderful women who are passionate about the same things I am. "Business Gals" will be a bi-weekly feature and will include lots of awesome ladies, so stay tuned! First up will be the lovely Jessica, who is behind the lovely shop called Houseworking.
I found Jessica through Instagram and was completely in love with her aesthetic. She has a wonderful eye and seems to be very lucky when it comes to thrifting! Hope you enjoy the interview!
When did you first get into vintage goods?
I clearly remember my first vintage purchase: a deep red v-neck cashmere sweater that smelled like mothballs, purchased for maybe a quarter at my grandmother's church rummage sale. I was eleven, My So-Called Life was my favorite thing ever, and I desperately wanted to have big, grunge-y old man sweaters like Angela Chase.
What is your average working day like?
I do most of my picking on weekends, when I hit flea markets and estate sales. My fiance likes vintage too (mostly clothes and records for him), so we make dates out of it, going out for lunch or dinner in between stops. During the week, I usually pack orders in the evenings so that I can start my day with a walk to the post office, which gets me out of bed and ready to work. I am very easily distracted, especially at home with music, my sleepy cat trying to snuggle me, sunshine coming through the window...but if I buckle down and start my work right away, I get in the zone and am a lot less tempted by those distractions. I usually make myself a Chemex full of coffee and get it all of the tedious photographing and listing done at once.
What do you look for when you are sourcing items for your shop?
My personal rule is to only buy items that I would have in my own home. More often than not, I will find something I love, keep it for a while, and then sell it when I'm ready to let it go. Integrity is important to me and I would never be comfortable trying to sell something I wouldn't personally own. Though my items aren't all from the same era or have the same style, I think having a genuine love for each item gives my shop an intimate feel -- like being in a friend's home where you just covet all over their beautiful things.
What is your favorite vintage find to date?
What a tough question! I think right now my favorite find is a Hasko Mystic Board from 1940. It's a wooden ouija board with amazing hand painted details. I had been eyeing it at a local antique shop for about a year and finally pulled the trigger on it recently -- it definitely wasn't an incredible deal, but it's something special.
How do you deal with difficult customers?
As hard as it is sometimes, "kill 'em with kindness" really is the way to go. After you've done that, go home, drink a big glass of wine and know that you can't control what other people do.
How do you promote your business and what do you think gets the best response?
Etsy is so self-contained that I don't do very much outside of it to promote my shop; people find me quite easily just by searching for keywords or items. I'm also very into instagram. I usually do a post when I've added new items to my shop (but I'm careful not to over-post or spam people!)
Being your own boss is great, but it can be difficult to stay motivated at times (at least for me!) How do you get out of these ruts?
My fiance runs a small record label, also from our home. He comes home from his 9-5 every day and spends hours into the night working on artwork, packing packages, and sending emails. His passion for what he does constantly impresses me and helps me stay motivated. When I'm feeling down or having a slow week sales-wise, I'll go through my shop feedback and read what people have said. Looking back at someone saying "hey, this is amazing, thanks so much!" is like a little pat on the back and makes me want to keep doing what I do.
The best part about running your own business is....
I'm admittedly a bit of a control freak so getting to do everything exactly how I want to is pretty darn satisfying.
The most challenging part is.....
Running a vintage business from a 750sf apartment that I share with another person (and his business!). Oy.
What is the next step for your business?
Opening a brick and mortar shop within the next couple of years. Vintage home goods, books, and records. I'm hugely inspired by General Store in SF & Venice, Book/Shop in Oakland, and Maven Collective in Portland. Those shops are so full of heart and soul, and it shows.