Looking for a Prince T-shirt from his 1984 “Purple Rain” tour? What about a skirt from the ’60s revamped for today’s vintage-lovin’ fashionista? If it’s vintage and it’s fabulous, Reware Vintage probably has it. The brainchild of super-creative Bethany Nixon, Reware Vintage can be seen all over the metro area, whether it’s the Magic Stick or The Belmont. Here’s what Bethany has to say about being a DIY diva:
1. What’s your name, how old are you and where are you located?
Hello! I’m Bethany Nixon. I’m 27 years old and as of the moment, I’m living in Pontiac, Mich.
2. What’s the name of your business? How long has it been up and running?
Reware Vintage is my pride and joy. The Web site (rewarevintage.com) went live in June 2005.
3. How did you get started?
I was a vintage buyer for Vintage Noir and Scavenger Hunt for a short time years ago. I taught myself to sew originally so that I could mend items to sell to them. Then I realized that some clothing would fit better or look better if I added a dart here or changed the hemline … Things like that. Sheer boredom and wanting to teach myself design led me to just start making completely new things out of vintage clothing. My friends always loved what I made, and even strangers would sometimes stop and ask me where I got something I was wearing that I’d reconstructed. I started thinking, “Maybe I should start selling this stuff!” Then I made my “famous” record notebooks for some friends for Christmas, and their friends started asking me to make specific ones for them, even bringing me records of their own. That convinced me. My husband Dan and I started talking about opening a store, selling vintage and reconstructed items. Dan is a Web site designer (insert shameless plug for redcarddesign.com here) and one day he said, “Why don’t we do a Web site instead?” A year later we went live, and the rest is history!
4. What are some of the challenges that come with being a DIY business person?
It’s just me and Dan doing this, so I had to learn a lot of new skills. Owning your own business, you have to take on a lot of
different roles: photographer, marketing, sales, production, Web designer, accounting, everything. I have a degree in entrepreneurship from Central Michigan University, but I still needed to learn so much and learn how to apply
all my knowledge to this specific business. It’s very satisfying and fulfilling work, but it still is work nonetheless.
5. What do you enjoy most about your business and crafting?
I love this job more than anything else I’ve ever done in my life. What I put into this is what I’m going to get out, and I love that. I get direct feedback and response to something I do like I have never gotten working for somebody else. It is just so incredibly rewarding for somebody to buy something that you made and then tell you or e-mail you about how much they love it.
6. What’s the one crafting tool you can’t live without?
Hands down, my sewing machine. My Janome and I have a great relationship.
7. Peanut butter: With or without nuts. Why?
Gotta go with the chunky myself, though my dog Kona prefers creamy.
8. What do you think about the growing trend toward handmade products?
I think it is important that people have at least a couple of items in their wardrobe that are one of a kind, so you don’t look like you just stepped out of an Old Navy commercial. Everyone should make or purchase something handmade and original that really reflects their personality or a memory, or an aspect of their lives.
9. How do you promote yourself? What’s worked, what hasn’t?
I am a walking shameless self-promotion! You really need to be to get your biz going. I use my friends and family to spread the word, I post like crazy all over the Web (crafty and vintage forums, Craig’ s List, MySpace), and I put flyers in record stores wherever I go. I am also a vendor with the Baar Bazaar, Rock ‘N’ Rummage and as many other fairs and such as I can do. I advertise with Venus magazine, which has worked wonders. I also have advertised with AMP magazine which … well … didn’t. But it comes down to your product and service. You can get someone to make a purchase, but to build a clientele, you need a great product and great service.
10. What advice would you give to someone who’d like to start her own biz?
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help. Don’t give away your secrets, but if you know someone who has a specialty or an opinion that you value, ask! And be prepared for hard work, late nights, and a very self-satisfying experience.