Today I present the first article of my new series, Thrift Jobs: Where I interview clever entrepreneurs who have made thrifting into a career. Whether it's full or part-time, I want to share their inspiring stories. Today I've interviewed Sammy of Sammy Davis Vintage. She's turned her passion for vintage clothing into a full-time career and online empire!
1. Can you please tell us about yourself Sammy?
I’m Sammy Davis: Stylist, writer and web series host on vintage fashion & thrift store shopping.
In April of 2009, I founded Sammy Davis Vintage to make vintage fashion more accessible to the contemporary woman of New York City. Through pop up sales, trunk shows and appearances at flea markets like Brooklyn’s own Brooklyn Flea and Artists & Fleas in Williamsburg, I established myself as a vintage curator with an eye for the thriftiest vintage finds that stood the test of time – and today’s trends.
2. How long have you been thrifting?
Since I was about 16 -- having that license and a part time job offered the freedom to discover my local salvation army!
3. When did you start your website, and what is it all about?
Sammydavisvintage.com was launched July 2009 as a blog to promote Sammy Davis Vintage the retail business. I was selling vintage at flea markets, through pop up shops and apartment trunk shows and the blog was a promotional vehicle for that.
Now the blog exists as the who, what, where, when and how of vintage and healthy fashion ie sourcing secondhand style. I am a budding expert on vintage and I blog to share my knowledge with my audience, and to do it in a way which is inspiring and entertaining.
4. How did you make evangelizing about the second-hand lifestyle your full time job?
(I am jealous, so very jealous! Remember, I'm still a cubicle-dwelling writer by day!)
I am actually an ex corporate girl, having worked as a web assistant for an array of digital properties with Hearst digital media in NYC. I decided to leave my position to pursue the unknown excitement of setting out on my own to "make vintage accessible to the contemporary woman" and have had many experiences and challenges along the way which have both taught me valuable life lessons and also steered me toward the right path.
Sammy is so cute!
5. What has been your biggest challenge in setting up your vintage clothing shop?
I work as a manager of a vintage boutique in NYCs trendy lower east side neighborhood, and like any store owner knows the weather and the season affect retail. Sometimes rainy days mean zero sales or a change in humidity during September means those vintage Norwegian sweaters sit collecting dust. So you have to strategize how you will sell and reach out to your market to overcome those dry spells - we like to host shopping parties and do press outreach continually to keep the buzz hot!
6. How about some tips for those of us that dream of setting up shop like you?
I've never founded my own boutique but it has always been a dream to help others pursue that passion. I honestly think that having the right amount of capital to start is very important - you won't be turning a profit right away! Being a fashion person is one thing, but you also need to have a love for doing the numbers. You see trends in numbers too, not just the clothes themselves!
7. What is the #1 thing that sets your heart aflame with passion for vintage clothing?
I love love love the stories behind vintage. Where you found it, or how it found you! Who owned it before? Where did they wear it? Vintage is it's owner personified! You feel a deeper connection to these pieces that otherwise should be sitting in a landfill, but you've breathed new life into them.
8. Why do you feel a deeper connection with the pieces you find at the thrift store?Its like adopting children ... I love each piece of my vintage collection like it was my own!
9. What's your favorite vintage clothing find? I'm going to be mean and limit you to just one!
Oh man, it has to be the time I thrifted an Hermes scarf by accident for only .50! I was in a salvation army about an hour away from where I grew up (love vintage road trips) and saw this gorgeous silk scarf with names of countries and jungle animals all over it. It was stunning! Well after purchasing it for .50 I put it in my collection and it was only when a friend pointed out the Hermes emblem that I knew! I about died!!
10. Can you share your top three thrifting tips?
1.The Mission: Need sweaters? Stick to sweaters!!! That way you won't overshop time & budget
2. Wear leggings, so you can try things on in the aisles
3. Find the sales. Salvation army's regularly have half off Wednesday, and others declare one tag color at 50% off for the day. Shop strategically!!!!!
So many of us are working hard to turn our passion for thrifting and vintage into a career. Success stories like Sammy's encourage us to work harder toward our goals. I have many more Thrift Job posts in the pipelines to inspire you! Leave your questions for the Thrift Pros in the comments and contact me if you'd like me to interview you for Thrift Jobs.
What's your Dream Thrift Job? Let's Discuss!