How did you get started with Minette’s Vintage and what do you sell?
Vintage and I have been in a steady relationship since Mum bought me my first piece when I was about 16 – it was a stunning 1960s white guipure lace shift that she found in an op shop somewhere and I wore it until it was torn off me – quite literally dancing on a podium one night and the girl next to me fell backwards and grabbed my front on her way down. It was irreparable and I was devastated! The idea for Minette’s Vintage started in Barwon Heads in the Winter of 2011 – I found the most divine little boutique and was telling my husband about it, saying that I would have done a few things differently and he interjected with – “Well go on then – you’ve got enough crap to open a shop!” and the seed was planted.
I went off and did a small business course on weekends and started looking for the right space for a shop and a year and a bit later Minette’s Vintage opened the doors in December 2012 in Richmond, Melbourne.
We began with an eclectic mix of stock – clothing, furniture, homewares, curios – whatever came across my path that made my heart smile really. I wanted to see what category would work best and it all sold fairly evenly although the clothing had quite a local following before too long, there wasn’t much vintage in the area until we opened.
Now that we’re operating online we concentrate more on clothing and accessories but again it depends on what I find on my treasure hunts, or what finds me as we get lots of enquiries from people wanting to sell their precious vintage too.
What is it about your work that you love?
I love vintage because everything has a story, each piece is truly unique and needs to find its new forever home. There’s the most amazing feeling when the right piece meets the right owner – such satisfaction and happiness! I’m passionate about reusing and recycling also, so that side of it is important and that’s why we also keep a few collections of beautiful upcycled clothing too.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start their own business?
Yes! Number 1: Just do it, no doubts just give it a bash. Number 2: Do as much homework as you can, but be aware you won’t really know or understand until you’ve taken the leap and you’re standing in the middle of it going “Ohhhhhh, NOW I get it.” Number 3: Ask for help – from anyone, anywhere, you won’t look stupid and naïve, just ask. Number 4: Prepare for it to completely take over your life. Gone are the days of walking out the door of work and thinking only – what’s for dinner, who should I catch up with etc – Now it will fill your every waking moments and some of your sleeping ones too, so make sure it’s something that you truly love so you don’t feel like you’re working all the time.
What has been the biggest learning curve about working for yourself?
Learning that no matter how good you are, or how quickly you learn, you simply can’t do everything yourself!
Can you recall a time when something you set out to do has failed – how did you overcome it? What did you learn from it?
A time? More like which time! Yes of course, you just have to cop it on the chin, work out why it failed, what could have been done better for next time and dust yourself off and keep going. No time to wallow when you run a small business.
Why do you think we are so reluctant to talk about our failures?
Personally I think it has to do with my upbringing, my Father was always driving me by asking me where I went wrong at school – even if I got an A – he would ask why it wasn’t an A+ – where could I have improved? I am a hard task master with myself also, but I don’t think anyone really likes failure, it is a big disappointment after a lot of hard work, such a deflating feeling so I suppose we don’t want to talk about it because we don’t want to relive that feeling. It is also because we’re concerned about what impression people have of us – we want it to be a good one so we mask the failures and embellish the successes!
What inspires you?
That’s a very big question. I am inspired by so many different corners of life – from following amazing accounts I have found on social media because they give me great ideas (in my industry and outside it), to talking to strangers because you never know who you might meet and what pearls of wisdom they may impart, to the startling beauty in nature and my own tenacity at times.
Biggest misconception about women who dress in vintage style?
Hmm, I don’t actually know any! Maybe you can tell me? I don’t wear strictly vintage and I don’t have a set era that I stick to – I like to mix it up and go with my mood so no one has said anything derogatory to me about wearing vintage yet.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Dealing with the anxiety that suddenly raised its head once I opened the business. That really pulled the rug out from underneath me for a while there. I took a long time to understand what it was and why it was there and how best to manage it when I couldn’t take time off from work and wasn’t getting any quality sleep. There were some very dark days and nights too, I have never felt so lonely until I discovered how common it was. I viewed it a failing, an inability to cope for a long time, and it wasn’t until I realised that wasn’t the case at all that I made friends with it in a way and now we live quite happily together. I have worked out how to manage it naturally, with exercise and diet and it doesn’t frighten me when I feel it kicking in, it’s familiar now and I know what to do to ride it out.
How do you deal with feelings of self-doubt?
Good question. Self-doubt stops me in my tracks sometimes, literally paralyses me for a little while and the only way through it for me is just to take that first tiny little step and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out the way you hope, then roll with it – you never know, it might be even better!
How do you switch off? What’s your favourite way to relax?
Walking, yoga, music, cooking, gardening, cuddling my cat and rearranging the furniture! It drives my husband crazy but sometimes I feel the need to create a new environment around me, so I do!