the Vintage Modern shop – vintage, budget chic style for your home & wardrobe

The Vintage Modern shop offers curated, vintage style at budget-friendly prices. It’s like shopping with a team of interior designers without the designer price tag. And you never even have to leave your couch.

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The Vintage Modern shop's Top 5 Sources for Creative Inspiration

Pamela DeweyComment

Hi friends.

Inspiration is probably the most important element of creating. Without inspiration, you are just a writer sitting at a desk, a musician staring at the keys or an artist with a blank canvas.

Like most creators, I find inspiration in a variety of ways. This week I thought I would share my top 5 sources to get my creative juices flowing.

1.    Design Blogs

My favorite design blog is Design*Sponge. It was started by Grace Bonney in 2004, and it features home interiors, recipes, DIYs, before and after projects, art, business tips, and just about any other type of design you can think of.

I check out Design*Sponge not quite every day, but close. It keeps me up-to-date on the latest trends in interior design, inspires how I decorate my home and also inspires the pieces I create for the shop.

More than just the content she shares, I find Bonney herself a source of inspiration. Her blog has turned into a wildly successful company and brand. She has published two books, and the most recent book, In the Company of Women, is a New York Times Best Seller.

But Bonney does more than market her own brand, she also encourages other women to succeed. She regularly features other creative women on her blog and shares their secrets of success.

When I was creating the Vintage Modern shop, I often looked to Design*Sponge, and Bonney particularly, to figure out the best practices for launching a new business.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I also really enjoy the design, DIY, food and fashion blog, A Beautiful Mess. Sisters Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman have fabulous taste, and their homes are impeccable.

I can also credit this blog for cementing my love for all things blush pink.

2.    Books

I have always loved reading. Reading helps me recharge my batteries. Reading helps me disappear into another world. Reading teaches me to be a better writer. Reading teaches me more about the world I live in.

I try to read every night. And when I start a really great novel, I can wile away a whole Saturday curled up on the couch reading. It feels like the ultimate luxury.

I am currently reading Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. Gay is one of my favorite writers, as well as a feminist icon. With her book Bad Feminist, she not only coined a much beloved term, but also created a legion of devotees. Difficult Women is a collection of her short stories, and it does not disappoint. I aspire to be half the writer she is.

I am also reading In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney, as mentioned above. In the Company of Women, as the cover states, contains “inspiration and advice from over 100 makers, artists, and entrepreneurs.” Also as the name suggests, all these creatives are women.

My favorite profile so far is Genevieve Gorder’s. Gorder is an interior designer and a host on HGTV. She is also from Minnesota. (Twin Cities!) Gorder is beautiful, talented and she seems like just a genuinely lovely person.

When asked what success means to her,” Gorder replies,

“The simplest answer I can think of is to able to live my imagination and give it away to as many people as possible in one lifetime. I’m never worried about having enough inspiration. I’m worried that one lifetime will never be enough to execute it all.”

As a woman who has multiple creative passions, this answer really resonates with me. I worry that I am pulling myself in too many directions, and I will never have enough time to get it all done.

At the same time, being able to create and share my art with the world is the most amazing feeling.

Last Friday, I sold my Shoe Collector Curio Cabinet. After I delivered the piece, I followed up with some care instructions for the customer. She texted me back, “I love it so much!! Thanks for dropping it off…Even my 2 year old said PRETTY when he saw it.”

Receiving that text was so rewarding. She loved the cabinet as much as I did, and I was so happy that I could share my creation with her.

3.    Music

Music is such an important part of my life. I listen to a little bit of everything, and I often listen to music while I write. It helps set the mood for the creation process. (I am listening to the new Bon Iver album, 22, A Million a lot.)

Music can also inspire what I create. Sometimes a lyric from a song will inspire me to write a story or a poem.

But more than just inspiration, music helps soothe my soul, provides me focus and helps me unwind. I mean, is there anything more cathartic than a five-minute dance break?

4.    Pinterest and Instagram

I find so much inspiration scrolling through my feeds on Pinterest and Instagram. Pinterest has a lot of good DIY ideas, and there are so many insightful pins about refinishing furniture on the site.

And personally, Pinterest is my go-to source for recipe ideas. As someone who loves to cook and try new things, Pinterest is a great resource.

Instagram is more than just a photography site. It is an online community where people can share their art and interact with other artists.

And believe me, they are so many people making great art. The beauty shared on Instagram continually blows me away.

5.    Thrift stores and flea markets

I love the thrill of the thrift store hunt. Scouring through racks and racks of used clothing, and then stumbling across that perfect vintage coat is quite a high.

Finding thrift store treasure takes patience, perseverance and a good eye. Through my twenty odd years of combing through racks and shelves, I have developed a very good eye. I am always on the lookout for that diamond in the rough!

Hope you enjoyed my top 5 sources of inspiration, and maybe found some ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

A Long-winded Introduction from the Vintage Modern shop

Pamela Dewey

Hi friends.

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.

Heeeelllllllloooooo.

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?