****This blog is no longer updated at this address! Come check it out at http://thinkandgrowchick.com. All of the archives are available there as well****

This site is my online journal that documents my attempts to reach various goals inspired by the principles found in the book, Think and Grow Rich. Join me as I strive to meet financial goals, fashion goals, school goals, hair-care goals, and everything in between. I hope that other young women will relate and find my journey useful to read about; this blog is for me as much as it is for women seeking resources for personal development and freedom. To get a daily dose, follow me on twitter and facebook...and don't forget to follow my blog!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Think and Grow Chick" of the Day: Simone of Erstwhile Style

For today's "Think and Grow Chick of the Day", I have a true treat for anyone who loves (1) women doing their thang and (2) vintage clothes!!! I present to you Simone of Etsy fame with her fab online shop, Erstwhile Style. I've stalked Simone's vintage shop for a while now and she consistently has great stuff. Keep reading to get a glimpse of this vintage entrepreneur's world...

(Photo by Simone @ https://shop.marketpublique.com/stores/erstwhilestyle)

Hello Simone! 
Welcome to Think & Grow Chick, a blog were I document achievement of goals important to young, black women. Can you start off by telling our readers what it is you do?

I am the owner and operator of Erstwhile Style Vintage Clothing on Etsy and Market Publique.

What is a typical day in your life like?  

My day generally starts with a photoshoot (photographing new items for the shop). Listing new items takes up a big part of my day..and hunting for fab new finds is 24/7!

How did you get into your current space in life? Can you tell us about your background?

I am a woman of many trades, but my appreciation for vintage clothing began quite early. My mother used to take me around thrift stores in our town. I would watch scour basement church thrift stores; she would find the most fabulous cashmere coats!

What were some of your goals in "back in the day"? Did they change over time, or did they always lead to what it is you are doing now?

Well, back in the day I collected vintage for my own personal use, and still do, but it got to a point where my closets were literally overflowing and it was time to purge some things. So it started out as just a little online rummage sale for myself, but I received so many inquiries after that about specific items that buyers were looking for - then a lightbulb went off. :-)

Please describe some of the realities of starting and running your own business. How has it been for you?

Well, like any business, you must know your market, and have more than a working knowledge of what you are selling. Knowing how to spot and date vintage is an acquired skill. And you have to love what you do.

Do you run your company full-time, or do you still work for someone else? Are you a one-woman operation?

I run Erstwhile Style full time almost all by myself. My hubby acts as my photographer but I do everything else. I have other personal aspirations and I spend time fulfilling those dreams as well. But this business is my sole source of employment. I love it! Its finally at a place where I don't have to work for anyone else. It took about a year to get to this point.

What is your stance on entrepreneurship? What are some of your personal entrepreneurial goals?

I believe that any business, like any goal in life, requires dedication and hard work. You get back what you put in. Ultimately, I would like for Erstwhile Style to be its own website, with advertisers, and personal shopping services for our customers.

If you had to work with a young woman like you and help her start her business, what are some key principles you would be certain to stress to her?

Again, know your product. Know your market. Find a niche.

How do you attract shoppers to your online boutique?

Well, as you know, Twitter and Facebook are wonderful avenues for promotion. I also advertise on other sites. Blog features, like yours, also help. And word of mouth goes a LONG way. We have many repeat customers who refer their friends.

How important has the internet been in promotion? What are some of your recommendations for promoting on the internet?

Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Ning,..

You have great personal style! How does your personal style affect your approach to your shop and the pieces you select?

Thank you! Many people equate vintage with old, dusty, smelly..NO.  Quality always comes first. My motto is that I will never offer anything for sale that is not up to my own standards. That way, I never go wrong. I also have the ability to select items that, while may not be my own PERSONAL style, I can envision it on someone else. I can see something and immediately envision what it would look like with the right accessories. I would like to think I have what I call ''the eye''. Haha.

How has your personal style developed over time?

Well, my style has evolved over time as I have gotten to know myself, and what looks good on my body. I think fashion is a reflection of my personality and how I'm feeling on that day. So one day I'm in heels, the next day I'm in cargo pants. But I always find a way to put my own signature stamp on every outfit.

What are your recommendations to someone looking to develop their own personal style?

Never copy what you see in a magazine exactly. Just because something is the ''hottest trend'', does not make it right for you. Know what looks good on your body, and more importantly know what doesn't.

Has the economy affected your personal shopping budget? What is your advice for looking fly on a budget?

Ugh, the economy has affected everything. We all have to make smarter buying choices. Looking fly on a budget? Vintage of course! Its generally a fraction of the cost of what you covet in the magazines and you can generally find something comparable that is within your budget. Even if you are not buying vintage, as a general rule, a good rule of thumb is to buy some key pieces, or what I like to call supporting acts, that can help make the rest of your wardrobe work. For example, knit tops, jeans, a blazer, etc.

Anyone who catches a glimpse of you modeling your great pieces will notice that you have fabulous hair. Are you natural?

  Oh no, my secret is out! I am the model; I only do it because I am cheap labor..haha..Yes, its all real. We are a family of HAIR. My mother has dreads down to her waist; my brother has long hair too. 

What are some of the hair products that you use?

Well, not much; it real simple. I use regular olive oil from the grocery store on my ends (not everyday or it looks greasy), Mizani deep conditioner at the salon. And my hair dresser slips me some of her Kerastase on my way out to use at home. ;-)

Would you describe yourself as more of a minimalist or an addict when it comes to caring for your hair? How about fashion?

I am a minimalist when it comes to everything, though I take my hair care, style, and health very seriously. I TRY not to shop outside of my budget (ladies, you know that is soo hard when you see something you like!). But for me, less is more.

What is your advice for women who want to try vintage, but are unsure of what to look for or how to wear vintage in a modern way?

I would say that the easiest way to start would be to identify pieces that you really like and try to find a vintage adaptation of it. Most often it will be cheaper with better quality. For example, right now the sequin/shiny trend is really hot. I see pieces in Vogue, Glamour, Ebony by top designers that are in the upwards of $1000 or more. You can find some in our shop, or anyone else's for a tenth of that price.

Do you have any upcoming projects for Erstwhile Style, or otherwise?

We are starting to offer personal shopping services on a small scale for some of the repeat customers and its working out great. Stay tuned..

What are your personal measures of success? By your own standards, do you consider yourself successful?

Well, not having to punch that time clock on a daily basis is a big one!

What is a “Think and Grow Chick” to you?

If you can think it, dream it, you can be it. That simple. Go get it.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to share some insight with my readers. You are truly a “Think and Grow Chick”! Is there anything else you’d like to share or that you want everyone to know about you? What are the best ways for one to get in contact with you?

You can find the shop/s at www.erstwhilestyle.etsy.com or shop.marketpublique.com/stores/erstwhilestyle  Follow ES on Twitter too! twitter.com/erstwhilestyle

Well, there you have it; promote online, know you market, be stylish by wearing vintage and... use olive oil on your ends!

Are you a true "Think & Grow Chick" that would like to participate in the interview series? If so, email me a short bio and links to whatever it is that you do so that I can prepare an interview for you!

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