Fashion is a form of expression for many people. It’s a way of embracing their unique selves by sporting styles that reflect their character and culture.
Ever-growing and constantly evolving, the fashion industry’s economic impact has made it one of the creative economy’s “bright spots”. As many of the world’s biggest brands are in the fashion world, it’s not far-fetched to wonder, how do small fashion businesses play in the field?
We figured, that if we really want to know, it only makes sense to talk to a brand that experiences it first-hand: Vintanthromodern.
Years in the Making
Melissa Gonzales, founder, and owner of Vintanthromodern, has been thrifting and reselling vintage clothes and accessories since she was 14 years old. Today, she owns and runs a vintage clothing store in an artist’s village in Westville, New Haven, CT.
Melissa fondly refers to her business as a passion project. She worked in a vintage store when she was in college and has since dreamed of opening her own someday.
Determined to turn that dream into reality, Melissa did what she could to sell her vintage finds whenever and wherever opportunity presents itself. She went from selling clothes on eBay and Etsy to traveling around Connecticut in her own roaming vintage store (a transformed old shuttle bus) to vend at outdoor events.
In 2014, she opened her first brick and mortar store in New Haven before moving to its present vibrant and creative location in Westville.
It’s All in the Name
One of the first things that truly captured our attention was the store’s name, and so we wasted no time in asking Melissa what Vintanthromodern means.
“Vintanthromodern is a combination of three words: vintage — clothing or items that date back 20 years or more; anthropology — the study of human culture; and modern — which in our case, means reinterpreting the past into current trends.
On first glance it’s a challenging name to pronounce, but once you get it, it’s hard to forget!”
True to its name, Vintanthromodern is home to expertly-curated wearable vintage for everyday wear and for special occasions. The shop also sells statement pieces for fashion-forward individuals who are all about being creative in their personal styles.
You will also find local and handmade goods including jewelry, candles, letterpress cards, and other hand-crafted items. The store is known for its versatile collections and ensures to have something for everyone regardless of style or age. Recently, they added a selection of retro clothes and toys for kids.
Championing Slow Fashion
Many fashion brands race to design new and produce more clothing items than consumers know what to do with them. As the trends shift, last season items are pushed aside to make way for the latest fashion. This cycle churns out a lot of waste, both from the manufacturing process and the end products.
But with sustainable fashion becoming more than just a topic of conversation and now an actual effort to reduce and reuse, Vintanthromodern provides the option to do just that.
“It’s not only ecologically responsible to buy and wear vintage, shopping second hand or vintage can also be a fun and affordable form of self-expression.”
Nowadays, buying vintage is a form of the creative process, prompting shoppers to create unique looks by mixing old and new. And for Melissa, witnessing this is one of the perks of her business.
“It’s exciting to see how things that once were discarded can be brought back to life. I love the sense of discovery in the eyes of our customers when they find something unusual that they love in the shop.”
Vintanthromodern’s expertly curated selection of vintage pieces is sought after by established vintage sellers and fashion collectors. Their clientele includes collectors, performers, and buyers coming as far as New York. But according to Melissa, the fashion-forward woman is their best customer.
Going back to our question as to how smaller businesses make it in the fashion industry, we can safely surmise that for this vintage store, it’s all about establishing their own identity as a brand, understanding the demands of their market, and having the foresight to recognize which pieces will resonate with their shoppers.
So how exactly do they curate the items that go into the shop?
“It may seem corny, but when I’m shopping, there are items that I know are waiting to be discovered. I don’t look at every single item when I am shopping, I scan, taking in all the textures patterns, colors, and materials. Whatever stands out gets plucked out!”
Melissa also shared that her curation process includes spending time to think about who wore the garment, who might wear it next, and how it will be reinvented and styled in the future. She follows her instincts and as much as possible, avoids being influenced by trends.
“What’s fun to wear or fun to pair with current fashion trends is always a best bet.”
Ups, Downs, and Pushing Forward
Despite being sought after by vintage buyers and collectors, Vintanthromodern is no stranger to facing challenges in their business, especially when they first started. And like any other small business, theirs is often financial.
Melissa shares that starting out without traditional sources of funding is never easy. But with ingenuity and a knack for creative development, she was able to overcome them. She was also resourceful, and what she lacked in training and background, she made up for by surrounding herself by fellow creatives and small business owners who showered her with great advice.
One of the motivators that push Vintanthromodern to keep going is, we believe, the fact that Melissa is grateful for the opportunity to be doing what she loves and enjoys.
“I never want the day to come when I am unable to do this. I have a privileged position; in that I am an art teacher by day and a vintage shop curator by night — it’s the perfect balance of two creative pursuits! Having a creative community to encourage you is important and I’m lucky to be surrounded by one in all facets of my life.”
Vintanthromodern has come a long way, and if you ask Melissa to share the most important piece of advice that helped her entrepreneurial journey, she’ll give you three.
“1) Focus on growing your business incrementally, testing the market along the way, and paying attention to every detail, no matter how small.
2) A strong work ethic is incredibly valuable — remain honest to your vision and be sincere in what you do.
3) Surround yourself with creative, sharp, and positive people — don’t underestimate the power of this to any successful business.”
Stylish Hang Tags for Vintage Fashion
Melissa believes that for her brand to gain traction in the fashion and retail business, she needed something for clients to recognize and remember the store more easily.
The fast and simple solution? Custom hang tags.
To maximize the printing cost, she designed the tags to be larger so they can double as Vintanthromodern’s business cards.
“The fact that Uprinting is so affordable made it possible for us to make this seemingly small decision that has such a big impact. ” Click To Tweet
“It’s an easy way to make and lasting impression while also making sure customers can find us on social media. The fact that Uprinting is so affordable made it possible for us to make this seemingly small decision that has such a big impact.”
We are happy and honored to be Vintanthromodern’s printing partner. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this inspiring vintage fashion store. Keep championing sustainable fashion and creativity!
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