I’ve had dreams of starting at least 10 different careers, (fashion stylist, bakery owner, magazine writer, boutique owner, clothing buyer, English teacher, personal shopper, etc. etc. etc) but since I most certainly will never achieve half of those dreams I decided I better start living out my dreams through other people. Hence, I’m starting a series of interviews with people who have awesome jobs.
The series is creatively named, “Hey, Cool Job.” And I’m kicking it off with Anne Bowers, owner of Ladygirl Vintage. I’m pretty excited about it.
Anne and I met through mutual friends when I was living in Provo, Utah in 2009. We both eventually made the move up to Salt Lake City, and after running into her a few months ago and hearing about her Etsy shop I had major job envy. So I thought she’d be the perfect person to interview, and she didn’t disappoint!
After selling refashioned vintage clothing on Etsy and at local pop-up shops for two years, she’s got a pretty cool thing going. Here’s a look into the life of Anne:
An Intro: Hi! I’m Anne Bowers! I grew up in southern Utah and went to school in northern Utah. I studied social work (which hardly seems relevant to what i’ve ended up doing!) but I always found myself taking (and loving) design and art classes, which perhaps led me to where I’m at now! I’ve been married almost 3 years to an amazing dude. His work recently brought us to Australia designing wallets and leather goods. He’s a very exciting person to follow around. 🙂
How she got started: I have always been a refashion enthusiast, but had generally just refashioned things for myself and for friends in the past . So about 2 years ago, I had just started a job and realized I just wasn’t super satisfied with what I was doing, so decided I wanted to try selling a few things on Etsy on the side just to see how it went. To my pleasant surprise, they all sold! It was so rewarding and exciting, I knew I had tapped into something.
On transitioning to full-time refashioning: After I realized I could possibly be onto something with this Etsy shop, I worked at my other job for another couple weeks but figured I would find another job that I could work part-time so that I could have a little time for my Etsy shop on the side. So with being unemployed and between applying for jobs, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands which meant more time I could invest into my refashioning and sales. I didn’t intend on it being full-time, but I was enjoying myself so much that it didn’t take long before I stopped applying for jobs and decided I needed to see where I could take it. It was a little scary and exciting, but obviously the most natural step to take!
On learning the skills to run the business: When I was about 11 or 12, my mom showed me some basic sewing skills and it didn’t take long before I was hooked. I started altering my own clothing because I found myself not liking certain details about items or just wanting things to fit differently. It became such a passion I would spend hours and hours taking things apart and putting them back together. I’ve never actually taken a sewing class, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. 🙂
Her typical work day: No workday is the same, but that’s the beauty of working for yourself! About 2 or 3 times a week (depending on my stock), I’ll go vintage shopping. That’s usually the first thing I do. If I’ve already got things to work on, I’ll start on my alterations. I’m usually so excited after I’ve refashioned a piece that I’ll take pictures of it immediately. So I alternate between sewing and photographing most of the day with some vintage shopping thrown in there. Toward the end of the workday, once I’ve got my photos taken, I’ll edit and list the items to Etsy and then post to Instagram. If I’m in the zone, I can be known to work all day and night. My husband is the same way so it really works for us, but we’re also good at reminding each other that we need to get out and live a little!
Advice on thrifting and refashioning: Buying items for my shop is one of my favorite parts of the process. Since I love a good project, I love seeing something that is almost amazing, but needs a little tweaking on the sleeves, or the neckline, or hem, etc. I generally first focus on the fabric and print. If it’s got good fabric, you’ve won the hardest battle. I’m usually drawn to florals, plaids and lace, but sometimes I like things that surprise me. I love little collars, buttons, pockets, and anything with unique details. If something is severely damaged and I’m not certain I can successfully refashion it, I probably won’t invest in it unless it’s a good price or it has fabric I can use for another project, etc. It’s a case-by-case thing, but I’m very careful not to invest in things I’m not 99% confident with.
On finding inspiration for her work: The places I find myself being inspired are mostly Instagram and Pinterest! It’s a mix or vintage and modern fashion inspiration. I love seeing how people are executing their amazing ideas! There are also a few vintage shops between Portland and Salt Lake City and beyond that are curated so well! I’m continually impressed with and inspired by what I see. (i.e. Maeberry Vintage, Rock & Rose, and Grey Dog Boutique)
On her favorite part of the job: Oh man! Do I have to name just one?! I think my favorite part(s) are seeing projects/refashions beginning to end. I love being able see my ideas come to fruition, especially when I’m not sure I can pull it off. I also love when buyers love their items! It just validates why I do what I do. Nothing makes me happier!
The coolest opportunities she’s had: I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one thing or experience, but I have met some of the greatest people through my work! Whether it’s been customers from all over the world or people doing the same thing I’m doing in the same town. I’m amazed at the cool people I’ve been able to meet! It’s been such a positive and irreplaceable experience. I feel very lucky!
Advice to those starting an Etsy shop: If I could start over, I wish I’d started out taking better photographs! I didn’t always have the best lighting or background. I didn’t realize that photos are one of the most important, if not THE most important thing. I finally invested in a good camera and I’ve never looked back. I’ve made some other silly mistakes (and still do!) but it’s all part of the process. I think the best advice I could give to someone looking to start an Etsy shop would be to not be afraid to invest. I know it can be scary and you don’t know how you’re going to possibly sell anything… but then you do and everything you’ve done has been worth it. The more you list, the more you sell. Put some time and effort in and it will eventually pay off!
So there ya have it. Anne, I once tried to sell a bunch of vintage stuff on Etsy and I think it went into a deep, dark hole of the internet and no one ever saw it. I may have to ask you for more tips!