Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Badass Biz: Mid Mod Mom's Curated Mid Century Modern Ceramics Selling Studio


Mid Mod Mom is a gorgeous shop of mostly small mid century modern objects and housewares expertly curated by Beatriz Marcias. Her photographs are centered and even organized on the website in a color gradient. You can tell it's the work of a trained artisan. Beatriz was kind enough to let me share photos of her bright california workspace and tell us a little bit about the hows and whys of her approach to reselling vintage.

"I’m an architect and artist by training, and a collector by nature; I’ve always had an appreciation for beauty, craftsmanship, and design. Our house is an eclectic mixture of handmade crafts from my native Colombia, furniture from contemporary designers, and many, many mid-century modern objects. I can’t keep everything that I find and love, so Mid Mod Mom is my way of sharing these finds, and their history, with others."

"It’s not easy to search for the abandoned and the forgotten – it requires patience and an inquisitive mind. Ask vintage sellers what their favorite part of the job is, and you will get a unanimous answer: the search! It’s that one find after hours of driving from thrift store to thrift store, finding the missing piece in your collection at the flea market, or discovering the previously unknown designer at the estate sale that makes it all worthwhile. Most of the objects I choose for my shop are in good vintage condition, but the majority of them have been used and loved and it shows. A lot of cleaning, polishing, ironing, sanding, painting, oiling, gluing, and all-around restoring takes place before an item is ready to be photographed and listed."

"Mid Mod Mom is not just a shop; it is a lifestyle. I
  only buy and sell what I love, and I believe that an  old, well-made object is a thousand times better than any mass-produced item. I also think that when you  buy vintage, you choose to recycle and save perfectly good items from ending up in a landfill." 

"I truly love what I do, and I still can’t believe that I get to do it every day. Thanks to Etsy, I have been able to grow my business and gain exposure. I love that I have a brand, that my store is cohesive, and that there is room for vintage in this virtual marketplace. There is so much more that I would like to do in the future, like producing my own work to sell alongside my vintage finds. Ideas, sketches, and plans are in the works. It can’t happen soon enough!"

"This job of mine not only fills my surroundings with beautiful objects – it has also brought many beautiful people into my life. When I started selling on Etsy, I was lucky to connect with other like-minded people on Twitter via #ThriftBreak. We helped each other identify our finds, celebrated great scores, and commiserated when things didn’t work out. Thriftbreakers – most of them fellow Etsy vintage sellers – have become some of my closest friends and a constant source of inspiration."

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughtful words on vintage curating and reselling Beatriz! I really agree with most of what you've shared and your style of carefully selecting and curating a collection is the route I take. Taking quality photos and selecting the unique pieces with care is what made my heart sing. It's been wonderful to learn from and connect with a community along the way, too!

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Business Life Lately: Teaching, Selling, Hustling, Learning and Beautiful Plant Therapy

I've been selling locally at markets (kindly alerted to me by Sally Ann, thank you!) and it's been helping me get rid of some excess clutter and put more money in the bank. I missed outdoor markets, you miss out on that interaction with customers face-to-face when you sell in local shops or online. And it's just nice to be outside exhibiting your wares. A couple of customers were long-time fans of my local antique mall booth.

My mom, AJ, and mom's dog Pete were my companions for the 2nd market. I love mom's family of chihuahuas. Pete's the runt of the litter and he's terrified of everything yet he managed to growl at a friendly great dane that day. Pete's not even the size of his head! Get 'em, Pete, you body dismorphic'd chi-lala.

I'm sharing some unedited photos taken with my phone for Instagram of business and life lately. (I desperately wanted to edit them into a fun collage...maybe next time.) Sometimes it's refreshing to look back at swift snaps of uncurated happenings. Above: AJ sitting at my set-up at the Jacksonville Landing for Earth Day. I previewed some more from the body care line we're testing, this time the bath bombs and bath scrubs- the bath bombs nearly sold out!

I really loved being set-up at a The Jacksonville Landing, it's one of the first places I visited Jacksonville, Florida before we moved here (while we were living in South Carolina and our house was being built) and it's always fascinated me. I still love all the Sanrio goodness at The Toy Factory, where our table was set-up.

I've been writing and researching at my desk here at the homestead, trying to create a big blog buffer and cracking at some creative business eBooks slowly. I have some client work to finish up before I can put time toward the books fully. I always have 1 million ideas and many blog posts started ahead of time, but it's tough for me to post anything. I like to let it marinate and edit over time. I've been re-doing my business plan and reading business books and eBooks, it's been very helpful at helping me reduce tasks and work smarter, not harder.

I've continued consistently going to spin class and absolutely love the progress thus far. My strength, form and endurance have improved. I'm excited to cycle more "in the wild" and keep pushing myself in all ways with fitness. Numbers have not gone down on the scale, but I can see the changes. Weight; so arbitrary.

I'm still witching it up at Green Lotus Studios. I've been playing with the idea of selling herbal protein/energy powders and beautifying teas. I'm testing them on myself and enjoy the results, but the powders are especially pricey for a start-up. Experimentation mode carriers on. At least I finally have the exact vision for what I want the brand to look like in-mind, tasks have been delegated better to boot.

I have one week left of Beginning Aromatherapy. Next, the more advanced plant medicine course work. I shall be in school forever, and I'm finally content with that! It used to be an mental finish line for me, but now I know life is best lived when you're constantly learning.

After I get my Master Herbalist certification, my heart wants to go back to college for digital media for the updated knowledge, practice, and legitimacy- then a bachelors of fine arts so I could be an art educator if desired...but my mind's telling me, no. "You're going to hate it, you're doing too much, you don't need it, knock it off," says the brain. I'll work toward it all one step at a time. I finally know I can't pile it all on at once anymore. There's no rush.

I'm still teaching raw vegan cooking classes. This was my first one on making raw vegan fruit leathers (basically, all-natural fruit roll-ups), corn chips and flax crackers. E-mail me if you'd more information on attending a class.

I refreshed my Southern Crossing booth! Right when I feel like I've finally got a knack and many ideas for curating my little booth exactly like I've envisioned...I'm quitting. I love the connection with locals and I've resisted getting out for years, but the fact remains, I make more money at markets and online. Time to put my time and money where it will return better.

I'm now AJ's official lawn care biz helper. We pressure washed a drive way and I mowed a front and back lawn. There would have been a point in time where I would have been too weak and pathetic to do that, I let my muscles atrophy into sad t-rex arms as a comic-reading, website-making teen. It was fun, I finished it all and craved more! The photo are some native wildflowers I picked. The rest I was paid to mercilessly mow down! Horrors.

I've been outside whenever possible and stopping to stop and touch every plant possible. I love that the flowers are in bloom (the fragrant jasmine bushes are exploding everywhere, love!) Mmm...plant therapy. I included the quick selfie to document my already crazy deep tan. I get dark fast as hell. I can put on loads of sunblock (and do, plus hats) and hide in the shade but that sun loves my tropical-ass. I had to break dress code and wear spaghetti straps in high school gym class to avoid dramatic tanlines in that short span of time. This is one reason why you will rarely see my wear sleeves or anything other than small sundresses.

Hope you don't mind the phone photo dump! I thought I'd try a new style of posting, I'm missing my staged SLR shots right now, but sometimes it's good to mix in some spontaneity for diversity.

/comments off. I'm off to lather myself in sunblock and protective gear to mow another lawn...
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Home Tour: Natasha of Halmoni Vintage's Cozy, Earthy Plant-Filled California Casa


Natasha's volunteered to share her vintage world on the blog before, once in my Thrifters Around the World series and again when I profiled her sized-acceptance themed vintage clothing shop in California. This time I'm sharing peeks around her adorable bohemian bungalow. I love how it's comfortable, earthy, and a riot of color! I'm taking inspiration for re-arranging my own pad!

Occupants: I live solo dolo with my main squeeze "Pupperoni Prince" Peanut.
Professions: I am solopreneur behind Halmoni Vintage

Please tell us a little about yourself: I run a vintage shop to fuel my addiction to buying old stuff. I love the hunt, it's a drug. I love polkadots and nail polish.

Apartment History: I had a few friends who lived in this 5 plex a few years back and I remember wishing to live on this street because it is lined with the tallest Palm Trees. One of my friends decided to move out and the opportunity came and I seized it. I've been here for 3 years now. 

Define Your Style: I like to think of my style as urban shabby chic bohemian :)

Favorite Thrifted Home Find: I love my mid-century modern overlapping square display. I found it in the dumpster at my last apartment and was shocked that someone would get rid of it. 

Favorite Home Feature? I love having a deck so I can have a garden. If I couldn't play with my plants my life would be lackluster. 

Yes! Gardening is good for the soul. I'm jealous of your deck! What was your biggest challenge with your home? My landlord has painted it this hideous beige/yellow color and it makes me want to die but I work with it. Painting party in the works.

Visitor's Reactions: They always love it and say it is fits me perfectly.

Biggest Embarrassment: My apartment usually looks like a tornado of clothes hit it.  (Van's Note: Oh dear god, the life of a vintage seller. I just had some buyers and friends visit yesterday and the pile of merch behind my computer desk most times is so embarrassing :P)

Proudest DIY: I rewired a lamp that I have had for 10 years. 

Biggest Indulgence: I've actually downsized quite a bit since starting my business. There are certain sacrifices we have to make to succeed in different areas of our life. I figure I will be able to hoard whenever I want once my business is straight and steady. 

Best Money-Saving Move: Get your boxes from craigslist. When I moved I got a bunch of wardrobe boxes and boxes made specifically for dishes, it was so easy to move clothes and breakables.

I love that tip! It really helps with glass merch to have just the right boxes. Best Advice to share?: Don't get discouraged if furniture placement doesn't work, keep trying. I am so happy with my livingroom and it took me 3 different tries before finding the perfect arrangement. 

Van: Agreed on that one. I'm still trying to get my living room right. Sometimes it takes finding the right piece, too. Takes time!

Natasha: Thank you so much for being so amazing. Thank you so much for wanting me to do this. Thank you for the motivation to clean my house :)  I love that we are connected and I look forward to working more with you in the future. 

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Want To Be on Next Home Tour? I love sharing the homes of creatives, bloggers, gardeners, and you! E-mail me if you're local and would be kind enough to let me shoot your home or drop me a line if you're not and I'll use your photos.

What's your favorite part of Natasha's home? I love all those plants, of course! And how simple and cozy the space is.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Two Houses. Two Types. Are You a Maker, or Buyer? Trailblazer, or Follower?

I adore the area I live in. Riverside, Jacksonville is an eclectic mix. There are 2,120 historic buildings, parks, independent businesses galore, underground scenes and frequent art gallery openings. It's a bohemian shangri-la and I never get tired of exploring the area. I'm especially drawn to the different houses, with diverse architecture and styles spanning decades.

And I stop the photograph many of them, I'd stop to photograph every single one if I had the time. Each one with character, life, and unique quirks. The ones that drawn me in the most are the unfinished ones. The shabby, old ones with cracks, boarded windows, and graffiti. Each perceived "flaw" a story, each odd exterior embellishment a unique imprint telling us about its heydey in history. If I have time I stop my ride or walk and take pictures. And dream.

I imagine excitedly buying the property and first going through and scrubbing from top to bottom, accessing any damage that needs to be fixed post haste and assigning it to the correct contractor, installing a vibrant garden, painting, and turning the property into something new. Back to its former glory, with my personal kitsch-touch. If I had my way and unlimited disposable income, I'd take every sad home, lot or space I could and transform it into something new. I'm a maker. I see potential in the old, neglected, rusted, thrifted, discarded, and unwanted. I think their tales are more fascinating than focus-group curated conventional retail shops filled with object made by sweatshop labor overseas.

Every time I see one of these houses I think there are two types of people in the world. I have a dickish, snobbish, arbitrary way of diving the population, obviously. The people who see the potential with me, that see the junk piles as an opportunity are fellow makers, often trailblazers. They work hard to find their own path. They see the beauty in the ugly. The others who see an old house as a pile of crap are the buyers. They support the Gucci luxury retail stores of the world, they believe the $1,200 purse crap-carrier, is the sum of its parts. They may live in those condominiums that are located in or directly next to shopping centers that are clean and cookiecutter. Blander than saltine crackers (hold the salt).

If you're here, you may have found me from a google search about crafting, reselling, or thrifting. If you've been here long enough you're likely creative and you see the potential in the rubble. So what are you waiting for, if you're not already blazing your own trail?

Do what you want for a living, buy where you want, live where you want, shop where you want, but don't do it based on a preconceived notion of what you "have" to do. Of course, buy Gucci if you want, there's nothing wrong with it. Buy the big new house if it makes you happy. But I often encounter people working on a proverbial life checklist (new car, nice clothes, new house, family, kids, degrees, debt) that doesn't make them happy at all. They work job they hates to satisfy the list, they work on the list because it's what they're 'told' to do. Why do it if it doesn't satisfy you? "New" isn't the only way.

I believe everyone is creative and yearns for expression. Express. Make. Paint. Write. Be you, do you. Don't hold back. If the office life isn't for you, skip it.

You only have one life. Are you the maker or the buyer? The trailblazer or the follower? Do you see a beautiful historic home with potential here, or a pile of junk? Yes, this is what crosses my mind nearly every time I pass a gorgeous, neglected home and engage in fixer-up fantasies. Thanks for listening to me sharing it; even if it's judgy, hypocritical and dickish. (Because after all, I do buy new things too.) This is just something that's been swirling around in my head lately as I explore my dizzyingly beautiful old neighborhood these days.

By the by, I'm actively working behind the scenes on the blog. Making a new archive system, changing subpages (about is evolving) and forcing myself to let loose more with posts. I have a strict, stifling system. I'm working at it. Expect to see little changes pop up in the next couple of days.
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Badass Biz: Kimberly, Published Writer, Mom Turns eBay into a $3K/Month Gig

Does anyone feel secure with work these days? From my chats with people from all walks of life, universally, the answers is no. There's less work, and every employer is asking more out of employees because pliant applicants are ripe for the picking in this economy. We're all over-worked and under-paid. Many are losing jobs. It's hard when you're a single person, and even worse when you're supporting a family. I am walking away from reselling, but I will always promote it as a powerful source for making an income that anyone can learn. In a world where jobs are less certain, I'm grateful for the internet and reselling as a tool for people in need to earn a flexible living.

Today I'm chatting with Kimberly: wife, mom, teacher, and former children's book writer about how she turned eBay into a $3K per month gig.

1/ Hello Kimberly, please tell us about yourself.
Hi, Van! First of all, thanks for the invite. I'm a long time follower and admirer of your blog, so it's an honor for me to get the opportunity to share with you and your readers. I'm a 41-year old wife and homeschooling mom to three teenagers. In addition to that, I previously wrote children's nonfiction books. But with the new Common Core Standards, publishers are looking to certified teachers to write their nonfiction books instead of writers. So, now I'm enjoying a career as an eBay Top Rated Seller, and frankly, making a lot more money in my new line of work :)

2/ Thank you for sharing all of this info with us! And I really appreciate your feedback on the blog over the years. How long have you been thrifting?
I've always enjoyed the thrill of finding a bargain, but I don't think I gained a true appreciation for all the treasures that could be found until I began to get serious about my eBay business. Now I hardly ever buy anything new.

3/ Can you share your top three thrifting tips?
Be consistent. Do your research (make sure you're going to make a tidy profit when you re-sell). Seek out more than one avenue for thrifting. I started out just hitting up thrift stores. Then I discovered garage sales and flea markets. Eventually, I discovered my favorite- auctions! There are frugal treasures to be found everywhere.

4/ How long have you been selling items on eBay?
I listed my first item just over two years ago.

5/ What led you to become an eBay seller.
My writing gigs were drying up, and my oldest daughter had been accepted into a very prestigious summer ballet intensive program. Readers of my blog know that ballet is her passion, and my husband and I really wanted her to have this opportunity. The only problem was, the cost was going to be over $2,000. We didn't have this extra cash, so we started brainstorming. My husband had several boxes of toys from his childhood in the basement. We decided to look them up and see what they went for on eBay. We were shocked! We sold all of his toys, my daughter went to her intensive, and my new business was born.

6/ If you don't mind telling, how much do you earn monthly and yearly selling items on eBay.
My inventory has continued to grow, and my eye for better quality has continued to develop. Over the last several months, I've consistently made $3,000-$4,000 per month after fees but before expenses (inventory and shipping shipping supplies). I usually spend between $750 and $1,000 on those items.

7/ What did you do in the past before selling on eBay?
I was a nonfiction childrens book author. I have 26 published books to my credit.

8/ How has selling on eBay changed your life?
I work incredibly hard- probably harder than I have at any other job, but I've never been happier. I love the freedom. If my kids have activities at a certain time, I can change my work schedule around to accommodate that and be there for them. Ebay has also given me a greater appreciation for buying used, recycling, and re-purposing. I had no idea how many quality items were being tossed away to thrift stores and garbage cans.

9/ What's your daily work schedule like?
I'm usually up by 6:00 a.m. I get myself ready for the day and have breakfast with my hubby. I wake my kids. While they're getting ready for the day, I answer emails. Around 7:00, I get the kiddos going with their school assignments. They're all old enough now that they work pretty independently. I just explain new topics, hand out assignments, and answer the occasional question. While they're working, I start listing. I set a goal of 10-15 new listing each day. Once my listings are done, I take pictures for the next day's listings. After lunch, I pack up anything that has sold and research and price the items that I will be listing the next day. My work day ends around 3:00 or 4:00.

10/ You're obviously a productive lister, any productivity tips to share?
Try to list like items on the same day. Using the sell similar feature and only making a few minor tweaks to each listing, it's much faster to list 15 coffee mugs then to list 15 items that have nothing in common.
Also, discipline is key. I have favorite tv shows I like to catch up on during my lunch hour, but I don't get to go to lunch until I've reached my listing goals.

11/ How about tips on staying focused?
Make a list and tackle one task at a time. Mix in the fun tasks with the not-so-fun tasks, but work in order and don't move on until the previous task is complete. Also, listing can be boring. To keep myself going, I listen to podcasts that interest me. One of my favorites is Scavenger Life.

12/ What would be your top 5 tips for selling on eBay successfully?

1. Consistent listing. At least a few listings everyday. If you want to take a day off, schedule a few listings ahead of time.

2. Find a few successful mentor sellers that sell the kinds of things you sell. Follow their stores and pay attention to their photographs, descriptions, pricing, etc. Learn from them.

3. Treat your business like a business. Leave emotions out of it. If you screw up, take ownership and take care of your customer immediately. Don't get worked up over returns. It's part of the business. Most regular stores have a 2-3% return rate. It's the cost of doing business.

4. Take the time to pack your items well. If it's breakable, wrap in bubble wrap, double box, and float. You have the sale- don't lose it because of poor packaging.

5. Be open to change. I see so many sellers get worked up every time eBay announces any changes. Instead of getting angry (totally unproductive), put your business hat on and figure out how you are going to make the changes work for your business.

13/ Very agreed on the breakable items. It's the worst when something breaks. How do you store all of your merch?
We have a 500 square feet addition built on to the back of our house.

14/ So lucky! It's so much easier to resell with real, dedicated storage. What types of items do you seek to sell?
Anything that I can make a nice profit on :)

15/ Haha, I feel you. I'd probably still be reselling if I could do that, but I curated for a certain aesthetic. Much harder to make money that way! What's the future hold for your business?
Hopefully, continued growth. Hubby is getting more involved. There is a possibility that his employer will be offering an early retirement buy-out. If that's the case, he's seriously considering joining me full-time in the eBay biz. In any case, I'm grateful to have found something that I truly love doing that provides a nice income :)

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Kimberly blogs about her reselling adventures on the Garage Sale Haven blog. Thanks so much again for sharing this helpful information with us! If you're an indie business owner or maker or any kind, I'm dying to tell your story. E-mail if you'd like to be featured on the blog or share your experiences in the comments.

Any reselling questions and/or tips to share? Let us know in the comments! Yep, my super-detailed reselling ebook is still forthcoming!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Come One Come All to Groovy Land: Toast and Jam in a Colorful Folk Art Garden


One day, Jill and I were biking home from a Riverside Arts Market and spied a large, full loquat tree filled with tempting fruit. They're absolutely delicious, like a smaller sour apricot, so we pulled over to load our bags. Perhaps it's rude, but when we see them rotting on the ground we pull over like assholes fruit saviors, and pick away. On this day the loquat owner, Donovan, whom I was acquainted with from his band, came out to help us pick loquats from the top of the tree. He invited us to attend "Toast and Jam" (a morning hang out and music jam session) in his garden, named "Groovy Land."

Of course we went!

Friends and neighbors slowly filed in to attend "Toast and Jam," some I recognized from group bike rides. Everyone bought a snack to the buffet, we sipped coffee, ate, and chatted about everything from the lovely neighborhood to more productive uses for military drones! There was lots of talk about the importance of nutritious food and independent business, which I of course, enjoyed! I've been swamped since with teaching and market stuff, but I'm looking forward to future "Toast and Jam" sessions and get togethers (like a "stone soup") with new and old friends. Jill and I both met people who teach creative classes we want to get into, too! All of the music was fantastic, too. The house is occupied by a group of very talented creatives.

"Groovy Land" is a beautiful folk-artsy backyard creation with that hippie, come-one-come-all neighborly feel that I adore. The general communal vibe reminds me of my favorite place in the world, The Hostel in the Forest. Jill and I want to make our homes stops on "schedule" (the normal suspects hop from place to place) one day! It's nice to connect with community again in a world that's seemingly increasingly distant.
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