Yeah, I know it's a well-worn (perhaps even a bit threadbare) vintage slogan, but it seems apropos
Until recently, I have always managed to carry out my vintage fashion business as a solo act, a one-woman sourcing, selling, and marketing department...even the modeling, photography, and shipping departments, all rolled into one. I don't know how many of you are entrepreneurs, and among those, how many are solo entrepreneurs, but I have a piece of advice from one previously solo act to another: Build a team.
Let me take a step back.
The hopeful type, I am one of those with a perpetually half-full glass. Still, it hasn't been as easy to see things in that rosy-tinted light with my as-yet-to-be-controlled autoimmune disease, psoriatic arthritis. Some days I don't feel like getting out of bed from exhaustion and pain. I have great doctors working with me to find the right combination for improved health, but it takes time and trials. For now, it is so very much harder to be who I want to be for myself, my business, and for my friends and family.
Denisebrain needs a team. Actually, it took a certain amount of disability to admit I already have a team, and then to add to it.
My husband is a graphic designer, the art director of a magazine. Guess who has always helped me with (among many other things) my websites and branding? Then there are the wonderful people who have consistently sourced vintage fashions for me over the years. There's my seamstress, who at 80 years of age is an inspiration to me with her vitality and creativity. I have been working with an editor to prepare my book for publication (I highly recommend my editor, Amy Scott of Nomad Editorial).
I probably get more comments about my photos than anything else about denisebrain. I have loved photographing vintage portraying the sort of happiness and healthiness you see in old magazines and movies.
Right now, though, I can't find either the ease or the energy to take many photos. So, lemons to lemonade, in walked another person for my team.
Fay Ripley is an experienced photographer who takes artful narrative photos.
Fay is also a vintage lover who sells vintage fashions at Chosen Vintage in Spokane (her shop within Chosen is Red Leaf Vintage). Fay offered to help set up a photo shoot using her studio and equipment. She did so much more than help though—she truly brought everything and everyone together, including Marc Harvey, another great photographer with whom she shares the studio, and four of the five models.
Fay and Marc created a lighting set up that perfectly emulates my home studio setup.
A couple weeks ago we had a photo shoot. I had no idea how it would go, never having dealt with so many people and moving parts before. I was very pleased—I think this is going to work for me.
So, after 17 years of photos of and by just me, myself and I, there will be some new faces. I will still make appearances too, just not all of the time.
Every single one of the women who modeled for me recently gets vintage, and that makes a big difference. Trying to summarize how I wanted them to look for the photos, I said "not like you think you're cool—more like you're someone's sister or best friend. The Girl Next Door. Happy, healthy, having fun, smiling." They all pulled this off beautifully.
A good friend suggested that I introduce these women to you, and, with their permission, I will. I may not be so lucky as to get the same group again, but at least for now you will see these smiling faces:
Victoria is an aspiring medical student with a love for the French horn and fashion. Yes, French horn, my instrument, which is how I got to know her. She was my student, and I've known her parents (her dad's another horn player) since forever ago. Victoria and I always snuck in conversations about clothes during horn lessons, so I knew she'd be great for this. Plus, I'm always overjoyed to see her, because she is one of my favorite people.
Grace is a model, and it absolutely showed; I love the attitude she brought to all her photos for me...she is a true pro. Bonus: She's (obviously) adorable and so sweet.
Kendra calls herself a filmmaker, graphic designer and vintage lover who is fond of travel and tea drinking. I'd say she understates her talents a bit; have a look at her website sometime. Kendra not only oozes talent and enthusiasm, but has an irrepressible smile. She fits right in with the denisebrain vibe, if I do say so myself.
Hayley is an Inupiaq Eskimo who comes from Shaktoolik, Alaska, a village on the Bering Sea. She is in college as an aspiring photographer, saying she has a lot of fun being in front of the camera but she also has her eye on being on the other side of the lens. I'd say that whatever side of the lens she is on, Hayley is going to be great, because she is so fun to be around, and super kind and helpful too.
Gianna is a yoga instructor (she owns a local studio) and paralegal, as well as a a vintage-specializing model. She says she loves to capture the essence of classic film stars when she models, "bringing life to a beautiful and elegant era past." Gianna has it all going for her: The knowledge to strike a pose that is pure vintage elegance, the just-right figure to show off clothes, and the obvious love of fashions from the past. Plus, she is a lovely character to work with. All that yoga is paying off, Gianna!
Real women wear vintage. I've said that so many times, and now I get to show you.
Real women also need help at times. After all, it's a fine time of year for lemonade!