I guess my reasoning behind opening a Vintage boutique in what some think is a non-traditional setting of Auckland’s North Shore can be reasoned down to a few words – a catalyst, a challenge and cherry on top.
The catalyst was finding a wonderful little vintage store in Silverdale some years ago now, ironically called ‘Cherry Picked’ while out and about in my capacity of personal shopper for a client. As has been the way of small business on a shoestring, it was fairly new and I hadn’t seen any advertising of the store opening. I only stumbled across it by chance or - fate.
As a vintage clothing wearer since my first job as a hairdresser in little old Mairangi Bay, finding this mecca hidden away was absolute GOLD. I would be able to satisfy both my clients needs for unique garments and my own desire as a stylist to express myself through fashion WITHOUT having to go past that dreaded Harbour Bridge or hunt for hours and days for one gem in a charity store.
The more I spoke with the owner the more we found synergy in our appreciation of vintage clothing and belief that the world didn’t need any more poorly made clothes. We had extensive conversations and comparisons between vintage perceptions in New Zealand and everywhere else in the world. As fate would have it, she would later have to move due to her husband’s employment relocation. At the time, I tried really really hard to be able to take the business on – but, it was not to be. Can we say ‘Carma’ with a ‘C’ to be consistent?
I carried on with my quiet little personal styling business and did not ever come across another vintage store like it on the North Shore.
I did go to stores in the city hunting for spectacular things. The challenge to this story was issued during a ‘pretty woman’ moment as follows:
I was in a vintage store looking at lovely things however I had something specific I sought for a client. I asked the owner, “Is this rail the only vintage clothing in the store?” I was told categorically and with these words that I have not forgotten; “The other vintage is not for you. I have warehouses full of fabulous items but it is for the film and television industry – so it is not for you. That is (pointing to rail) what is available to you.”
Now, I am not a competitive person. I actually just generally don’t believe in trying to screw anyone over or climb on someone else’s back to succeed. But THIS kind of comment makes me very mad and is like a red rag to a bull. How dare this person speak to another as though they are nothing. True colours aye.
I decided that it was not right or fair, to hoard vintage clothing so that it is held only for a perceived ‘elite’. After the open and generous nature of the previously mentioned vintage boutique – this approach by the horrible store owner was NOT ok.
Everyone should be able to have wonderful clothing that suits them. Beautiful garments that are within personal budget and that are reflective of personal style – vintage, or not. As a Sustainable Stylist I want to offer my clients the best of the best when it comes to unique looks that do not harm our environment. I believe these things are truly some of the (many) benefits of vintage clothing. Finding those pieces de resistance is of course, can be the only real hurdle so I filled my store with them. I do not only pull them out if I deem you are ‘good enough’ to wear it. Sheesh!
And the cherry on top? My children began their tertiary education just out of the Milford area so my family life and priorities could be easily attended. With a little more free time, I was able to pursue this passion for vintage, accept the nasty challenge for all the other ‘pretty women’ out there, and develop my positive community contribution. By opening a store that was close to motorway access, offered a niche and unique product and provided free services of personal styling to the wider community – Painted Bird Vintage Boutique was born.
And the bonus? What I am selling is good fashion. It doesn’t hurt any animals, or waterways, or underpaid workers or fill landfill by my hand.
It is all good.
Vintage in my store is sold with love. It is sold to all who want it with respect for the human being both who made it and who will wear it. Vintage in my store provides ‘safe haven’ for those who wish to try on and dabble in or, further develop a style. My store is also me. I offer style advice, a laugh and an ear for your life if you need me. I offer fashion and life as intertwined as they may be for us all.