The F – Word | The Vintage Valley

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Ally Ferguson of The Vintage Valley. Photo courtesy of The Vintage Valley.

Can you tell us a bit about The Vintage Valley and how you got started?

It really is quite the long build up really, i originally started by writing my blog many many moons ago..just sharing my love for vintage clothing and the little pieces i would fix up on my weekends..a stitch here, a hem there. I then decided i could make a pretty rad business out of selling vintage clothing and accessories. It lasted a year or so and i learned a lot from the process (a lot of good and bad) after a small break i started to share my vintage hairstyles with my followers and after diving into the deep end and hosting a workshop for my Swing Dance Academy i started to conduct classes for lots of ladies in Perth, teaching them basic tips for vintage hair styling, i moved my small old blog to a brand spanking new site and focused on making it a fun vintage hub that included my blog and my hair styling venture. I am so very proud of where it is transitioning to…i feel i am lucky enough to have created a brand that doesn’t need to be defined, i can be doing hair now but in a year or so time i could be designing my own vintage inspired range of clothing..the possibilities are endless and i love that! Where VV is now, is because i have grown and changed..learned along the way and realised that all those transitions needed to happen for it to be what it is now!

What is it about your work that you love?

I love the freedom it gives me to live what i love (cheese ball moment) i don’t feel closed in every day, i know i get to share my love for vintage with my followers and connect with like-minded people all over the world every..single..day! If i have an idea i try to make it happen, i love that i can explore my creativity do what makes me happy and that i can actually live from it too. It’s an amazing thing to run your own business and see it flourish, the long hours, sweat and tears are all worth it when you are living a truly centred life the way you have always hoped to, and are actually inspiring others to take the leap to do it themselves too!

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start their own business?

Hmmm…this is a tricky one! There is SO much to share…if i was to give one piece of advice i would say find a really good organisational program (mine is Trello) i sucked at keeping all my appointments and was a crazed loon for a little while until i found a super easy program that i could link all ideas/work/bookings/to-do lists to..now i know what i am doing every day and i can run it all from my iPhone too..super simple and has saved my disorganised brain. Also…never let the downs control you, there will be many…but it’s what you learn from those downs that boost you into the next era of amazingness, stay humble and enjoy every moment you get to spend on creating your brand.

What has been the biggest learning curve about working for yourself?

Staying focused on tasks has been the hardest thing for me, as i work from home unless i am travelling to a client i need a pretty solid structure for my day or i will start to vacuum or get sucked into the social media vortex..getting up at the same time every day, putting on shoes in the house (don’t ask me why, it just works) and going to your “work station” to get started on your day is the best start you can give yourself, sometimes i get sick of not having anyone to talk to so i head to a cafe and people watch/work, a change in location is good for the inspiration juices and, i mean, there is coffee on hand too…win, win!

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?

Haha, oh yes i have alll the stories to share, but for the sake of everyone reading i will pick one out of the bag. When i first started Vintage Valley i was selling vintage clothes online, i was young and it was the first attempt at making money from my brand…i spent months building it up and i was certain if i had more time to spend on it surely it would explode, so…i quit my full-time job and then realised a few months later that i knew nothing about actually running a business, how to budget and that refreshing my website every 5min wasn’t going to make the sales happen! I lasted about 4-5months and then i was back into finding a job, and seriously in debt.

Looking back i giggle because i was eating noodles for dinner and trying to figure out how to pay rent etc…but i learned a heck of a lot from those stressful months and it has added to the direction my little brand has gone and i grew a lot as a person from it too!

Why do you think we are so reluctant to talk about our failures?

I think we all place so much pressure to succeed in our endeavours, especially if they are creative ones..no-one likes to admit they are struggling or have absolutely gotten stuck in the mud on something they put so much love, sweat and tears into.

Like most things we sometimes feel that slapping on a positive face and keeping the “all good, nothing to see here but awesome stuff n things” show going will work, and i have done this many times…truth is, the only person we are fooling is ourselves and by sharing our struggles and failures we gain support and also help others in the same situation.

To your followers, clients and readers you become REAL, that’s right a real freakin human being with downfalls and all, and they will love you all the more for opening the “heck, yes i sucked at that and I’m sharing this with you because not everything is rosy in my garden…all…the…time and i can’t whack a filter on this and smile emoticon my way out of it” door. I am so open to removing the shame in failures and putting that energy into creating positive and inclusive communities! (warm fuzzy hugs for all)

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me, fashion wise it is mostly street styles from the 40’s and 50’s..everyone had such an eclectic sense of style and the street photographers really managed to capture that. If i need a boost of inspiration i always look at the way they would accessorise or layer their clothing. In life i find inspiration in the small things, people who are really giving their passions and small businesses a go and really taking chances, it’s easy to loose momentum and having bright, energetic and driven creatives around you is the best way to spur you on!

Biggest misconception about women who dress in vintage style?

I think that the biggest misconception is that we are dressing the way we do because we long to be in another era, the truth is everyone around the world will wake up each day and select something to wear that make them feel beautiful and confident, or will reflect exactly their mood and personality…we are lucky to be able to express ourselves through our clothes and all-over style and having a connection to a bygone era is just the cherry on top, it took me a long time to find the clothes that made me feel pretty as i never felt comfortable in ‘new age” clothes. Like most things that make up our personalities it is a package of madness haha, i know quite well that i could have spent my lifetime wearing the latest trends, however i love the old, the dusty, the pre-worn and pieces that make me feel as if i am wearing a piece of history every day…that is what makes me feel beautiful..not the longing of wanting to step back in time, i am most happy where i am..just in my vintage threads!

What has been your greatest challenge?

I would say my greatest challenge would be the financial side of things and the constant ups and downs, as you know its tough to budget your way through, hoping for a booking or someone…anyone to just give you some dang money so you can eat that week…i still struggle at times to prioritise my finances and to make sure i can still run my business efficiently but still treat myself to a dress every now and then. I also have an amazing Husband that gets me through the downs when they happen..having an awesome support base is a MUST…even if they are there to just pry the wine bottle/cheese block from your stressed and clenchy hands, those times pass and i do find it hard at times to remember to just keep chugging through!

How do you deal with feelings of self-doubt?

Haha, well…i am a talker, i like to talk about ALL my thoughts and feelings (my Husband is a lucky man) so whenever i feel self-doubt creep in i talk to someone i trust, about why i may be feeling that way and how i can work around it. My Husband is my biggest support and is always there to throw in a “your pretty fantastic” and “how about we conquer it together” which helps immensely. You are never alone in your doubt, as humans we need positive and supportive interactions to get through the mud sometimes, i know if i was doing it alone i would be a lot less bold in my approach to just “give it all a go” knowing someone you love is in your boat too makes it a little easier to row (hahaha….that was just a crazy sentence, but true..row, row, row).

How do you switch off? What’s your favourite way to relax?

I definitely would say a night in with my Husband is usually top of my list…and wine (lots of wine) but i love to go Swing Dancing whenever i can, i teach for the Perth Swing Dance Academy and its such a love in my life, if I’m ever feeling stressed or blue i hit the dance floor and become infected with the joy it brings, i honestly feel that the whole world needs to swing dance…would change a few things that’s for sure!

And finally – where can people find you?

Usually hanging around my kitchen with a 1kg bucket of hummus (haha) or via these links:

Website www.thevintagevalley.com
Instagram: @allyvintage
Facebook: thevintagevalley
Or if you want to be friends email: info@thevintagevalley.com

 

Check out other interviews in The F – Word Series

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