Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Halmoni Vintage: Tips for Starting Your Own Brick & Mortar and Living the Dream

I talked with Natasha, owner of Oakland California vintage clothing boutique Halmoni Vintage about her thrifting travels across the continental (and beyond!) USA travels. I can't believe it didn't strike me until later to write about her glorious shop! I love the look and mission behind it and admire a girl going after her dreams.


1) Please tell us a little about yourself Natasha, who are you and what do you do?  
I am the owner of Halmoni, a vintage boutique in Oakland, CA that focuses on statement pieces and body positivity. I am a fat woman of color who loves expressing myself through clothing and I want to bring visibility to people who also love vintage and look like me. 



2) As a fellow curvy woman of color I absolutely love that mission. We can't have enough body love/acceptance out there, ever. How long have you been thrifting? 
I have been thrifting since I was about 12 years old. My best friend growing up had an older sister who would let us tag along when she went on thrifting adventures to all the hidden spots in the boogie down Bronx where I'm from. 


3) How long have been collecting vintage? 
I have been collecting vintage items since high school. When I did go thrifting, I would always see items that just couldn’t be left behind and I had to take them. I considered myself the “search and rescue” team of all things vintage.

4) When did you open Halmoni vintage and what was your mission with the shop? 
Halmoni opened July of 2011. My mission with the shop is to have a non-pretentious vintage boutique that focuses on body positivity and making community. There are certain situations when some people think, “Oh, am I cool enough to go into that shop? Will there be anything in there for me?” and my answer to those questions is always an enthusiastic: “HELL YES!”


5) Love that mission too, I always strive for the same approachability in everything I do. There can be a lot of uncomfortable cliquey exclusivity in creative communities. What were the biggest challenges you faced starting out with your shop? 
One of the biggest challenges I faced was switching from worker bee to queen bee with this being my first venture as an entrepreneur. I had to learn to not only be a shop owner but also a stylist, graphic designer and bookkeeper, just to name a few of the hats I wear. 

The lovely and stylish Natasha in head-to-toe vintage duds.

6) What's your favorite and least favorite element of running your own vintage shop? 
I like that I get to help people in more ways than just fashion. For example, I hold clothing swaps focused on body empowerment and through that I’ve been able to help people with body acceptance and nurturing their curiosity of vintage. My not so favorite element would be the bookkeeping. But that’s not so bad because I am doing my dream job. 



7) I dread doing my taxes here soon, stopping being creative to do paperwork suuucks. What are your creative influences/inspirations? 
Children are definitely an inspiration because they are so free with everything especially with the way they dress. I am also inspired by my memories of growing up in NYC but now meshing that with living in Cali. 

Love this personal touch on the vintage jewelry backings.

8) I see a distinct creative flair and love for indie art in your business. Any favorite artists you'd like to give a shout out to? 
Dave Young Kim is an Oakland based muralist that everyone needs to know! 


9) How has your community accepted your shop? Is there an appreciation for vintage in your area? 
The community is my number one fan! The street where the shop is located at used to be made up of mostly empty storefronts so, I like to think that Halmoni has helped with the renaissance that is happening in the neighborhood and in Oakland. Also, there is an appreciation for the shop because it is a part of memory lane for lots of people who live in the area. 

10) What are the top 3 tips you'd give to someone who wants to start their own brick and mortar vintage shop?
1) Believe in yourself and don’t beat yourself up over little mistakes. 
2) Hire a bookkeeper. 
3) It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good.

Thanks so much Natasha for sharing your story and for the support (hope you love the Unicorn swag you've ordered!) I love the three tips above, so very true all three. Check out the Halmoni Vintage site and Facebook/Twitter.

What would your dream vintage shop/cafe/brick & mortar be like? I'm actually about to start the business plan for my dream one again. I see lots of local art, vintage housewares abound, beautiful...
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

27 comments:

  1. What an adorable shop! I love her mission statement, its very big here in Portland and I wish it was in Phoenix. Phoenix needs some body positive up in that place. But unless that picture is very misleading. I wouldn't consider her even close to fat. Either way. I love her style and she's as cute as her store! What a lovely open friendly demeanor she has. No wonder people feel comfortable shopping with her.

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    1. I thought the same on her "Fat" comment, nah, not even. Only in the high fashion world where likely anyone over 110-115 is plus-size. In the Souff where I'm at women of all sizes are appreciated but maybe not so-much in the cutest of trendy-artsy boutiques. I'd love that to change.

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    2. Thank you! I like to use fat as a term of empowerment because my body type is what mainstream would call fat. I appreciate my 5'7 220lb body and I wear a size 18/20. I want to help pave the way for us curvy/fat girls! Thanks Vanessa! Thanks Kari for reading!

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  2. Best of luck to Natasha! Great store and mission!

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  3. Check out her blog. She has pics of herself in her outfits. I'm a fat woman as well and I think she looks great. She wears fun/interesting fashion. I hope this comes out right but I do see why she calls herself a fat woman. She's not an 'acceptable' size. I've been reading some lately about body acceptance and fashion. There are some great blogs out there. Some say that claiming back the word 'fat' makes it a word that other people can't use to hurt us. So I don't see her calling herself fat a negative thing more a form of empowerment. Love the idea of her clothing swaps too. Pics of them on her blog make it look like they are having a great time.

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    1. I was reading the blog, love her outfits :D I do get the idea behind using "fat" as empowerment but as a word for someone who just isn't stick-thin, not so much. It shouldn't just be a world of just fat/skinny and nothing in-between.

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    2. Thank you Nancy! You said it perfectly!

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  4. Darling, darling, darling. And I love her personal style, too!

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  5. Very cool. I love the idea of a body positive non-pretentious vintage shop. Some vintage shops are too "cool" for their own good and can feel kinda exclusionary, especially if you wear a larger size.

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    1. Yes to that for indie boutiques in particular. Definitely the type of shop I'd like to start someday. Looking into it again... ;D

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  6. This is the cutest shop. I knew I was going to love it even just at the title. Halmoni is korean for grandmother (used both in regard to family as well as as a general term for elderly women) and I don't see a whole lot of Koreans in the vintage game. I loved it even more upon realizing the shop's mission of body empowerment. Way cool!

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    1. I forgot to ask her what that meant, I was wondering. Very sweet name for the shop.

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  7. I freakin' love her, and don't know her at all. I loved that she said she thought of it as a "search & rescue" mission. Awesome. I need to make it to her shop one day.

    xo Ashley
    thetiniestfirecracker.com

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    1. That would be fun to take a pilgrimage to it if I was ever visiting Cali.

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  8. There's a shop in my neighborhood that's vintage/new/boutique...they do not give a shit about having larger sizes, even though the owner wouldn't fit in most of the clothes! Every time I go in, which is about once a year, I wonder why the hell I bothered. It's sad to me that a shop in such a small town would be so exclusive. I wish I could visit this shop!

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    1. Definitely gonna keep this in mind for any future projects I do involving clothes. Even on a practical standpoint, why leave out a whole market of buyers? Especially one that not often catered to.

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  9. Her clothing swap event is a great idea!

    I dream of a pop-up B&M, maybe in one of those big ole 70s Winnebagos. Or the ever-desirable Airstream trailers. I'd serve coffee and fancy teas along with vintage and some of my handmade wares :)

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    1. That's the dream for many of us, same exact. ;) I've considered it, too. Not sure if I'm going to a pop-up shop, brick and mortar or both, working out the ole business plan. You never know, keep working, you may get your dream coffee/tea/vintage stop.

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  10. One of my favorite reads so far this year, Van - thanks for highlighting her and her shop. And yes, I know all about the snobbery of cool vintage shops and their little communities. Glad to see somebody "equally cool" say it out loud. Visiting her shop is now on my bucket list :-)

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    1. Doooo it. I hope to also open a vintage/art shop that has absolutely no pretentions.

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  11. That's a really lovely, positive and inspiring post!

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  12. Oh, so cool you featured a business local to me! I will need to check this place out. Thanks for sharing :0)

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    1. Do check it out, tell 'em Van sent you!

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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