Thursday, July 31, 2014

Leona Thriftola's Thriving Reselling and Thrift Business: Kitsch, Marketing, and Curating Pro

I've admired Leona Thriftola's colorful, kitschy style for years. She's a talented businesswoman with a great eye for design and mind for marketing. Luckily, she's let me pick her brain and share some of her best business and thrifting tips.

1) Hi Leona, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi there, my name is Leona Thrift-ola and I’m a designer, maker and vintage enthusiast with a keen eye for
fun design from the 60s to 80s. I moved to London when I was 16 and turned my charity shop obsession
into a career, first selling vintage at Portobello Market, then launching my pop culture jewelry label
Lady Luck Rules OK with an E-commerce platform which pre-dated Etsy and freelancing for the likes of
Wayne Hemingway and opening an indie boutique Superette inbetween.[sic]

2) You have a marketing background and have launched some 
amazing campaigns, did you go to school for marketing, do you have 
a natural knack or is it a little of both? 

I briefly studied Styling & Photography at the London College of Fashion but I struggle in a classroom
environment and tend to flourish more when learning on the go so I decided to quit school and assist a stylist.
I worked for Kenny Ho for a few years before setting up my own businesses and his clients were the
Spice Girls which was so much hard work but lots of fun. I look back at these days and think I learnt a lot
about who I was and what I could achieve in my career, I nurtured my DIY ethos and didn’t feel scared
about trying new things.

3)  What have been your favorite projects thus far?

I set up my first E-commerce website in 2003 to sell my reworked vintage jewelry and eventually my own
designs. Very quickly through this platform my label Lady Luck Rules OK grew from a weekly market stall
at Portobello to being sold in 250 stores worldwide and we hit 10,000 website sales in a few years. It was all
pretty exciting and after 7 years I decided to close it all down including my bricks and mortar store because
for me the sparkle had gone and I didn’t feel excited by doing what so many other people were now also
doing. I wanted a new challenge and I never regret that decision.

4) What are your top three tips for resellers?

1) Try to have a speciality [sic], either by era or style, it will make it easier for you to find and market to your
2) Good photos are essential when selling online. Setting up a basic DIY home studio is inexpensive and
investing in a decent camera is worth it. YouTube is full of tutorials for this kind of thing and buy your
camera second hand on eBay as long as the seller has good feedback.
3) Give excellent customer service. Always. It is a very crowded marketplace these days so ensuring the
customer’s experience with you is memorable (for the right reasons!) will improve your customer retention

5)  How about three more tips for indie business owners in general?

1) Ensure you have a business plan and keep it up-to-date, it’s like the roadmap for your business and an
essential tool for growth and keeping an eye on the overall vision.
2) Always do your maths! Maths is not one of my strong points, so because it’s not I work extra hard at it.
I know what everything costs my business from the 100cm of bakers twine I use to tie my parcels to each
individual cello bag that package my greetings cards.
3) If you’re working from home try to get some kind of morning routine which involves leaving the house,
even if it’s just to get a coffee or a paper. Then arrive back home and go to your desk like you're entering
an office for the day and treat it that way. No doing the washing or allowing friends do drop by for a
catch-up. I work 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, even though I’m working from home on my own businesses,
but it’s this discipline that ensures I hit targets and make deadlines.

6) What are some personal favorites from your collection of vintage 

My ultimate vintage finds are things that look novelty and fun but still have a practical modern use. My two
personal faves in my own collection are my 1970s circus toaster and 1970s owl clock where the eyes move
and it hoots on the hour.

7) Let me mine ya for more tips, you find get stuff, what are your top 
three thrifting tips?

1) When researching what car boot sales and flea markets to buy from, look for the time it asks vendors to
get there and arrive then. This way you can easily peruse the merch as it’s put out instead of arriving when
the rest of the buyers do. 
2) I’m finding a lot of good and well priced vintage finds can now be found in Instagram stores. IG are yet
to set up a shop facility but people are using the platform this way in a ‘first paypal wins’ kind of mode. I’ve
scored some real finds for real good prices from people all over the world this way.
3) Haggle with a smile and never offer less than half because that’s just rude. Haggling is an art form because
of course you want to get the best deal to improve your seller margin but also remember the person you’re
buying from could become a life time supplier who calls you first when they find stuff. So be smart and polite
with the process, it’ll pay off in the end!

Thanks Leona for sharing a peek at your creative and thrifitng processes! Check out her work at Lucky Dip Club and Thriftola!

/Comments Off, you can hit me up via e-mail or instagram where I'm live-grammin' my Puerto Rico trip.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Walk Around my Aunt's Colorful Hillside Neighborhood in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico

Daily walks (or explorations) are good for creativity and the soul, I may have to start numbering these posts for list-making posterity. This mini exploration was taken this Sunday. My Aunt Yvette lives close to her parents in nearby Juana Diaz. While visiting I decided to take a walk and document the beautiful houses in her area. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the island's experiencing a drought but the ample breeze makes the tropical heat bearable. I feel like it's cooler here than the stiflingly humid wetland I left behind.

The neighborhood snakes around, goes up and down in ways my pancake flat raised sandbar state doesn't. When I pass houses on the sidewalk various furry "alarm system" set to yapping, alerting their masters that a stranger's passing. I decide to photograph my favorite houses and plants and I try to be sneaky about it. Residents aren't used to weirdos meandering around with large SLR camera and pointing them at their houses. Some might be unaware of the beauty of their homes, nestled in hills, brightly colored and surrounded by tropical fruit and flower bearing trees and cooled (although only slightly) by a soft breeze.

I usually get at least one comment of concern and this time was no different. I was taking a picture of a friendly dog when a car pulled up and asked if I needed any help, he said his son sent me when he saw me taking photos of his mailbox. Oops. (BTW, took a rooftop shot of the neighborhood you can see here.)

When I got back from my walk my aunt made food for the family and some vegan dishes for me, how sweet! The breadfruit in the first photo behind the pina colada was mashed and fried.

My family has discussed buying a house in Puerto Rico for ages. Maybe one day we can have a vacation home there, but it's nice to look at these houses and dream in the meantime.

/Comments Off
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Becke's Incredible Utilitarian Vintage Modern Home and Expertly Curated Indie Business

I've shared Becke's antique mall selling tips on the blog before. She's smart and witty with an impecable eye for design and an admirable, streamlined style. This time I'm sharing peeks around her Apartment Therapy approved home.

Occupants: Becke & Lee, Pierre (Our Frenchie) + Badooda, Porkadilla and Turnip (Our cat brood)
Professions: Digital Marketing Manager & Vintage Home Decor Shop Owner
Location: Near Toronto, Canada
Space Type: 185 + Year old Clapboard House
Years Occupied: 6

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
We are a young couple who migrated from city life to country living and couldn't be happier. Lee is a digital marketing manager and still works in the city during the week and I sell vintage and antique home decor and oddities. Living out in rural Ontario is ideal for finding all sorts of fabulous things, there are lots of elderly people here, you know, downsizing!

Define your Style:
I love a well-edited, clean, minimal look with some oddball finds thrown in for good humour [sic]. After living in this house for a few years, I have developed a new love for a primitive/pioneer sense of simplicity. It now almost seems like some sort of unintentional modernism with it's practicality and sparse nature.

Favorite Thrifted Find:
Oh, I have so many! I absolutely cannot choose one favourite [sic] but my most recent thrill is an antique Louis Vuitton train case. I'm not normally an LV kinda gal but it's an absolute beauty!

Biggest Challenge:
Restoring a very old house that is almost entirely made of wood - the siding, the windows, doors, porches, etc. Wood wood wood! It's very high maintenance, especially with Canadian winters, and it has to be repainted and/or touched up a little too often for my liking. My next house will be entirely covered in heavy gauge steel and I'm not even joking!

I need some of those sculptural houseplants! Those are next on my to-get list upon my return!

Visitor's Reactions:
Apparently most of our guests think we're 'living the dream' when they see our property and gardens, etc and then I tell them how much work it involves and it becomes more of a nightmare. 

Don't mess with perfection

Biggest Embarrassment:
Well, I would have to say that the house next door is the biggest embarrassment at the moment. It is very close to our house and is very old as well. It recently foreclosed, is covered in weeds, it's painted three different colours [sic] outside and it's half finished. To add insult to injury, some guy hung himself in there a few years ago. So yea, it's now just gone from embarrassment to downright terrifying. (Luckily it just sold though and will be torn down asap, woohoo!)

Dream office. Would work to my heart's content here. Gives me some custom-desk making ideas...

Proudest DIY:
Well, this entire house is one big DIY and I am very proud of our efforts. The hardest work was restoring all the old wood windows and reviving the gardens and property here. The woman who lived here before us let the house get really bad, like Grey Gardens bad, so it took us about 3 years to get all the weeds, etc under control.

Best Money-Saving Move:
Restoring our wood windows and using a local handyman instead of a contractor for various jobs shaved thousands off of projects over the years. 

Top Three Thrifting Tips:
1) Don't buy things for yourself just because they're cheap! Choose your finds carefully instead of impulse buying. Eventually you'll hone your true style this way.
2) Don't dress too nice or you may not get the cheapest price (this is especially true at yard sales)...
3) Only thrift with friends who like different styles than you or things could get nasty!

A Final Bonus, I just love the way your operate your businesses. Top three business tips?
(I only have one!)
Figure out what works and run with it. For example, don't get set on having a brick and mortar shop just so you can say you have a shop when you will lose money doing so. If pop-up shops work for you, flea markets or small online sales then run with it. It's all about profit not ego!

Becke curates and sells her beautiful vintage wares over at The Union General. Love her style and wisdom! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful home with us, your business and thrifting tips are one-point!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Top 5 Favorite Posts for Artists, Makers and Writers. Accomplish Goals. Follow the Muse. Stay Inspired.

I'm doing lots of exercises to work my creative proverbial creative muscles, they've atrophied. Just like every other part of your body you have to use it or lose it. I'm journaling, making lists, exploring, documenting and collecting. I'll share the step-by-step progress and results on the blog in the coming weeks and months. Until then I thought it would be good to look back at my top favorite posts from the past on exercising creativity and accomplishing goals.

1) Do You Own Thing with Integrity, a Special Artist's Quote + Silence Your Inner Critic - I go back to this quote and advice in my mind all the time. When you're torturing yourself comparing your work to others and feeling like you'll never be good enough..go back to this lesson.

2) Vision Booking - Using your brain's RAS (Reticular Activating System) to "program" your dreams and goals subconsciously, creatively.

3) 5 Ways to Reboot Creativity - Reboot your creative juices for when you just can't...anymore...the pain, the pain!

4) 5 Kickass Productivity Tips- Squeeze it all in and get it done!

5) Banish Inertia and Seize Your Life Once and For All- Inertia is the enemy of creative work! It's out to get you, it's behind you, watch out! Anywho, 2 tips to banish that bastard.

Honorable Mentions: I want to do a whole series on "Creative Beginnings" and early and current muses and inspirations but for now, I have one that explains how my Childhood in Italy and another one on My Mom The Muse. (And she says I'm her muse likewise, aw.) I want to do more posts on minimalism, less stuff and organization can be a huge help to reboot creativity! This one captures all my thoughts on it in a nutshell.

And now, get thee to work! I'm watching you!

/Comments Off  While I'm in Puerto Rico visiting family, taking thousands of photos and collecting "trash" and generally doing things that make my family question how they're related to me. Follow the trip live on Instagram! I'm taking lots of photos.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What I'm Packing for my Puerto Rican Vacation: Visiting Family, Simple Living, Vagabond Fantasizing

I own a lot of Stuff. I'm closer to being a minimalist than I've ever been but items still exceed the 100 or even more likely the 200 mark (when you count all my robot toys and randomness). When I travel I always pack my camera bag and one carry-on no matter how long I'll be gone. It's liberating to carry all of your favorites and none of the extra, your load is lifted and you feel truly free to travel and live life to its fullest. I love random adventures away from home carrying the bare minimum, it indulges my fantasy of getting away from all trappings of society. No responsibilities, no worries, just seeing every corner of the world and all it has to offer and truly living like The Fisherman. I have projects and goals to accomplish and will probably never be a full time vagabond but I'd like to try it. First with small trips, then bigger explorations.

My family in Puerto Rico live the simple island life. They don't own much more than they need. Staying with them is refreshing and invigorating. On this trip I hope to document them and their lives more and gather recipes and family history as well as explore other less-seen areas of the island. If I had a bike with me I'd love to bike through all the emerald hills like my dad tells me he used to.

This is one of the lightest packing jobs I've ever done. It's a little more clothes than I need but there's no AC in any of my relative's homes and sometimes I'll get sweaty and desire a change late or midday. Even so all of the outfits (about 8-9) fold-up beautifully when you roll them up like sushi and onigiri in a colorful clothing bento box.

I packed two compositions books because I'm crazy! Actually one is for my "Morning Pages"- The Artist's Way recommends starting each day with spilling out everything on your mind into your journal or word processor and I wanted to try doing it again. I like to keep this one somewhat neat. The other one is a messier one for all blog ideas, blog posts, and random thoughts and essays. I adore the book Fenna sent me, I'm going to do every recommended exploration in the book and document it on the blog when it's done!

For toiletries I just packed my favorite Alaffia Authentic Black Soap
 (shaving soap, shampoo, body wash) and Alaffia lotion. I use a little of the lotion in a my hair as a leave-in conditioner, too. That may not work for finer hair but it's perfect to tame my thick, curly, textured hair. And tweezers/toothbrush, I'll brush with the baking soda that will inevitably be around, it's easier than packing a little jar of my homemade stuff. I'll buy a disposable razor when I get there if family doesn't have one I can use.

I love my make-up and chemical toiletry free life, it makes packing (and living) so much simpler. I have more posts to come on that subject. Moving on...

My other bag contains my usuals, passport (because I'm lazy/cheap and haven't ordered a new driver's license...don't tell the police!), wallet, change container. I've been using the same kid's pencil bags to keep my Smalls organized for years, I bought them at the dollar section of Target when the first Transformers movie came out. I always bring a tiny composition book with me for notes, gotta write any/all ideas down before you lose 'em!

Click through to the blog to view the video if you're reading this via E-mail. 

I forgot to photograph it but I'm also packing my Michael Jackson Love Songs CD. I bought it from a K-Mart in Puerto Rico last time I visited and tortured my mom and dad, forcing them to play it the whole trip. Just kidding, they love Michael. This CD has a lot of good ones. One Day in Your Life is one of the sweetest, smoothest things I've ever heard and We've Got a Good Thing Going is young love transmogrified to song without missing a hitch, listen if you haven't before! MJ's lilting ethereal tenor is my happy place.

Oh, and a bit of food! I'm packing some avocados/cashew cheese/cucumber slices for the road/plane ride and may scoop up some vegan protein powder (I love hemp) while I'm there to keep fueled while I'm running around. Of course I'll be using my vegan-on-the-go eating methods.

I'd normally pack my gameboy to play Resident Evil or Animal Crossing or an extra book to read when I'm stuck at my grandparent's house for too long but I think this time I'll take that time to walk around and take photos and write in my notebook as much as possible instead.

I'll be back with plenty of photos, videos, and stories to share from the Island of Enchantment, Puerto Rico really is a little paradise of its own.

The Posts From my Last Puerto Rico Vacation: Photo 1 / Photo 2 / Photo 3 / Photo 4 / Photo 5 / Photo 6

/Comments Off   E-mail me or hit me up on instagram (where I'll update with lots of photos from my trip) Facebook or Twitter if you need me, I'll respond. Keep checking back all next week I have indie business posts, interviews with kitsch-loving creatives and a house tour going up. I'll be back from my trip July 31st.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

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