I have recently been interviewed for Vintage Life magazine as part of a series speaking to business people in the vintage world. For those who missed it, here it is again:
Vintage Life: How did you become interested in vintage?
I first discovered vintage fashion as a teenager in the late 1980s. Having dressed very alternatively (I was a bit of a goth) it seemed a natural progression to get into vintage clothing. I used to buy 60s and 70s dresses from charity shops, take them up so they were super short, then team them up with hot pants and Red or Dead shoes.
I fell in love with vintage homewares much later, after I bought a M’dina glass bowl, again from a charity shop in my early 30s. When I met my husband Adam, who had embraced a full on 1970s style I found myself hooked on a more retro style, ditched my chintz and embraced the colour orange!
How did the opportunity to set up Your Vintage Life come about?
I started selling vintage handbags while on maternity leave in 2008, really to make a few pennies. I quickly found I was good at it, and more importantly loved it. Then when my daughter was born in 2010, I decided to give up my corporate retail job and sell full time. However, my business has evolved so much since then. The shop is now only part time as I also run the National Vintage Wedding Fair (www.vintageweddingfair.co.uk), write a regular blog (http://www.katebeavis.com) as well as my book “Style Your Modern Vintage Home”. I also host workshops with Keeley Harris for Vintage Academy (www.vintageacademy.co.uk) – inspiring other vintage business owners to make vintage their business just like I did.
Was it easy to get established in the scene?
To be honest when I started selling I didn’t realise there was this huge scene out there. I obviously knew people, like me, loved vintage style but I didn’t realise there was such an active community of people. When we took our fashion to a Judy’s Vintage Fair and met all the other stall holders, I realised that there was a lot of people out there just like me, all doing the same thing! The growth of social media for business happened at the same time too which helped. I made a few virtual friends who supported me at the start, they gave me air time on their blogs and also offered advice.
How does your work compare to a ‘modern’ job?
Oh it is so much better! I used to work 60 hour weeks and only saw my son at the weekends which was hard. Now I fit my work around them, I get to take them to school and pick them up to hear about their day which is so precious. I love the flexibility this gives me, but also I love the fact that I’m making money for me, not for the big corporate machine. It can get quite lonely however and I miss the office banter. I know we have social media now to chat to people but it’s very important to put your tools down and go and see your friends in person too. It is worth saying that I run the business like I would have done before; I have targets, spread sheets, strategy documents. I guess you can take the girl out of the corporative world, but not the corporate world out of the girl!
Who do you admire?
Anyone that is successfully doing their own thing, with integrity and creativity.
What are your upcoming plans?
Gosh I have so many plans, that sometimes I have to sit on my hands to stop myself launching new projects. I am focusing now on making our autumn fairs bigger and better with fashion shows. I am about to launch a new project called The Unique Brides Club (watch this space) and am judging again at this year’s National Vintage Awards. I have a few styled shoots in the pipeline for Vintage Life magazine too.
What advice would you give to someone trying to set up a business in the vintage scene?
Before you launch work out what you want to achieve and where do you want your business to be in five years time, Do this before you brand it, to make sure your business has longevity. Make contact with like-minded people to see how you can collaborate to push yourself and the business forward. Network like crazy, remember everything is a potential opportunity. Have fun with it too, we spend so much time working that it is important that you enjoy it. And finally, don’t work 24/7! I see many business owners never, ever having time off and this is a mistake. You are doing this for you, and if you are shattered you won’t be able to enjoy it, nor be able to make clear plans for the future.