My name is Pam Dewey, and the Vintage Modern shop is my new online store. I am the owner, the boss, the designer, the shopper, the stylist, the marketer and the copywriter. I think that about covers it?
A little more about me to start. My mother started taking me to antique stores when I was about five or six years old. From the beginning, I loved all the sparkly, costume jewelry antique stores sell. The more bling, the better.
And I loved the old clothing. I love 50s and 60s style clothing, Dior New Look style dresses with nipped waists and the paisleys and the floral prints of the psychedelic era. There was an extended period of time where I wished I was born in 60s, so I could have lived my true life as a flower child.
As I got a little older, I began to frequent thrift stores. I searched for the clothes to complete my grunge wardrobe along with cute 50s style cardigans.
When I was In college, shopping at thrift stores became more of necessary part of the broke college student existence.
The year after I graduated, I rented my first solo apartment. I was excited about having my own space, but it also meant furnishing an apartment on my own. I was working as a visual manager for a dying department store, so my home design budget was very modest.
And to be honest, I didn't know much about interior design yet. But my mother was determined to help me create a good looking apartment. (My mother is a retired teacher, but she is also an amateur furniture refinisher and all around crafty lady.)
We took my hand-me-down couch, futon and end tables and added an Asian-inspired table lamp, black and red floral, silk pillows (that my mother made), my parent’s old Persian rug (that nicely covered the stain on the carpet), a few pieces of cheap art, a vintage ice bucket (to hold magazines) and a wicker chair from Pier One. The chair was a horrible dark green, but my mother spray painted it a bright, beautiful red.
All of sudden, I had a living room that looked like a grown person with some taste lived there. I was astonished by what a little bit of styling and creativity could do.
Shortly thereafter, the department store decided to close its doors, and I found out I was about to be out of a job. But it just so happened, my best friend had moved to NYC, and one of his roommates was moving out of their Brooklyn apartment.
I had visited NYC once years ago and loved it then. It seemed like fate. So after an exploratory visit for New Year’s Eve, and I decided to take the plunge.
My former employer was owned by the same company as Saks Fifth Avenue, so I tried to work those connections. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a visual portfolio, so the first interview at Saks didn’t go great. But the HR woman did compliment me on my outfit, so it didn’t go terribly either.
In the meantime, I got a sales associate job at H&M. I wanted to work my way up to a visual position, but then I received another call from Saks. I was in.
I worked at Saks Fifth Avenue the rest of my time in NYC. I started as a visual merchandiser and was promoted to a stylist position. Along the way, I learned.
I learned about couture and the fashion industry. I met some fashion designers. I attended a runway show during Fashion Week.
I also learned how to use a hand sander, how to use a staple gun, how to assemble a chandelier and lost all my fear of ladders.
I learned how to create a statement wall with some peacock feathers and a staple gun, to build a chandelier out of Frisbees, to design a snowman out of denim and styrofoam, to create fabric flowers from muslin and liquid starch and how to gold leaf an entire mannequin platform. I also met some crazy talented, wonderful people who shared their knowledge with me.
It was wonderful. It was exhausting. I got burnt out. On the job and on the city.
So I moved to Minneapolis, at the end of 2008. The recession was just taking hold, and I started temping in an accounting office. I eventually was hired on. And then I stayed and stayed.
After I moved to Minnesota, I also started refinishing furniture, basically sanding and painting vintage furniture to give it new life. I started with an abandoned dresser at my old apartment. I spray painted it silver and added new hardware. It looked brand new.
The next piece I refinished was a vintage buffet I inherited from my grandparents. Sometime in the 60s, my grandma painted it the at-the-time popular avocado green. I painted over the unsightly avocado with black paint. The beautiful lines of the buffet were accentuated with the new, moody dark paint.
After working inaccounting for awhile, I decided it was time to make a change in my life. I enrolled in a Strategic Communication Master’s program, so I could seek out a new career path, something with some writing involved. Along with fashion and design, writing is my longtime passion.
While completing my degree, I took classes like copywriting, social media communication, advertising and content strategy for web communication. Last spring, I enrolled in my Capstone Class. A capstone is essentially a thesis project people that must be completed to graduate.
On my former blog, I wrote about the “(wo)man in the mirror” moment I had as I was contemplating my Capstone project. You can read that here. It was essentially the moment I ditched my original project idea and decided to write a business plan. A business plan for this business, the Vintage Modern shop.
The Vintage Modern shop provides a way for me to combine all my passions into one project. I get to frequent thrift stores to shop for vintage items that need to be refinished, reimagined or just need to find the right home. Then I get to work on these refinishing projects, write the product copy, market these items online and then blog about the process here.
Here are the last two sentences from my Capstone project.
“Though I know there will be bumps along the way, I will get to funnel my skills of writing copy, social media promotion, and strategic planning into an online store where I sell furniture and art my friends and I have created. It is kind of the dream.”
And I get to be my own boss. So that is how this whole shop came to be.
I apologize for this longread. Future blog posts will be much shorter.
Going forward, the blog will focus on the refinishing process, as well as things I am learning while running the business.
But today, I wanted to say an incredibly long-winded hello.
For fun, I wanted to share a before and after of one of the pieces for sale on the website. I think it turned out pretty great, right?