Adam and Christy Parent, of literally Anywhere, USA. Adam and Christy are the owners of 4 Birds Vintage
4 Birds Vintage tied for 7th place in the 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Awards for Best Online Vintage Clothing Store
Please tell us a little about yourself. Hobbies, interests and work outside of the vintage world.
Currently, we are on a cross-country journey throughout the US with our 4 children. Together we opened and ran a coffee shop / restaurant called The Blackbird Coffeehouse in Port Angeles, WA for the last five years. But we dreamed of an extensive road-trip together, taking the 4 Birds Vintage business on the road, taking time to breathe, write, enjoy and teach our children, and see the country. So in the fall of 2013, we sold our coffee business, packed our belongings, and hit the road in a 300 square foot fifth-wheel trailer and truck.
Adam and I both enjoy reading and writing, and exploring the country with our children. We love finding good local coffee, farmers markets with fresh organic food, and great locally-owned restaurants. I love photography and blogging, and Adam enjoys playing the guitar and is teaching himself to play the ukulele too.
What got you into vintage clothing? How long have you been collecting vintage clothing for?
Over 8 years ago, we bought our first home - a 1950's ranch, and we had the best time finding mid century furniture to furnish it. Most of our finds came from yard sales and estate sales; and when we found a piece such as a dining set that we liked better than the one we already had, we realized that we could sell the one we had for more than we originally paid, pay for the one we wanted, and often have money left over. Soon we had more furniture, decorative objects, and housewares than our little ranch could hold, and it logically turned into a small side business for us, selling our finds to others who shared our taste.
I distinctly remember the day we stopped at a yard sale where a gentleman was selling his deceased wife's Victorian clothing & textile collection. The pieces were extraordinary; and though I did not really know their value, I bought what I had cash for, took the garments home, and began learning. I scoured resources online, learning of the garments' ages, the types of lace, their various terms - chemise, corset covers, bodices, bustles, etc. A local antique shop owner kindly lent us a dress form, and thus I photographed our first antique and vintage garments. I am so grateful for the many knowledgeable collectors and dealers who gave freely of their experience to help me learn. After that, I realized that I had found a passion.
How long have you been selling vintage clothing for? What avenues have you sold your vintage merchandise through? Your own web store, Etsy, eBay, Vintage Shows, Antique Malls, Flea Markets, Your Own Brick & Mortar?
We have been actively selling vintage clothing for 8 years, beginning with eBay and then moving to Etsy in 2010.
How much do you incorporate vintage clothing and accessories into your everyday wardrobe?
Though I am not often head-to-toe vintage, every day I wear something that is vintage ~ whether it is a 1950's cashmere cardigan, bakelite bangles or earrings, a 1940's dress, or 1970's platform Famolares. And this time of year, my coat is always a vintage accessory. Two years ago my favorite was a 1950's turquoise velvet swing coat. Last year it was a 1930's tweed beauty with huge 3" carved bakelite buttons, and this year a 1960's grey & white floral tapestry coat is a staple.
Adam is even more of a coat hoarder than I, so his wardrobe contains many vintage jackets and coats from the 1950's - 1970's. And vintage shirts - plaid, snap, western style, Pendleton - are something he wears almost daily.
Do you source most of your vintage locally or do you shop online or travel to other cities and states to do your shopping?
Most of our vintage has always been sourced locally, and nowadays it is sourced wherever we are. :)
What do you feel differentiates your store from others?
Pieces of high quality, timeless design, inherent beauty, and visual appeal are what you will find in the 4 Birds Vintage shop. Our pieces are cleaned, repaired & restored (if necessary), and arrive ready to wear - unless disclosed otherwise in a listing.
How do you feel the vintage selling market has evolved since you first began selling?
We have seen the effect social media has had on the online vintage selling marketplace, and the ways that online shopping has grown. Buyers were once only shopping from a computer, then laptops, now tablets and phones.
Do you have any advice that you would like to offer people just starting out selling vintage clothing online?
For those just beginning to sell vintage clothing online, our advice is to find a niche, an era, which you love. Selling vintage clothing involves a great deal of work; and having a love of what you are handling helps in the midst of laundering, sewing repairs, ironing, and more,
Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out shopping for vintage clothing online?
For those just beginning to shop for vintage clothing online, knowing your accurate body measurements and knowing what design of garments fit you well are key to a good shopping experience.
What are your favorite eras of clothing for wearing? What are your favorite eras of clothing for admiring? What do you like about clothing from these eras?
My favorite era is certainly the 1940's into the early 1950's. I love the way that era of clothing fits me, and I'm drawn to it as a time when my grandmother was my age now, raising her little brood of four that included my mother.
Who are some of your favorite vintage designers?
Some of my favorite vintage designers are Adrian, Schiaparelli, and Ceil Chapman. I love the artistic statements that Schiaparelli made with her clothing designs, love the impeccable tailoring of Adrian designs, and the sculptural but utterly feminine qualities of Ceil's designs.
What would be your ultimate vintage fashion find?
Since I first began collecting and selling antique and vintage clothing, I have thought that a dress by Fortuny or the House of Worth would be an absolutely amazing find.
Is vintage clothing popular in the city that you live in?
Vintage clothing is not very popular in the town in which we lived before we began our road-trip. Though we found people liked and complimented us on what we were wearing, many did not recognize it as vintage pieces.
Thanks to Adam and Christy Parent for participating in The Style Council! To check out my recent picks of favorite vintage clothing items from 4 Birds Vintage check out this blog post:
Stay tuned for Style Council interviews with all of the winners of the 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Awards, as well as Style Council interviews with my 2014 Lulu's Online Vintage Clothing Store Recommendation winners.
If you are interested in participating in The Style Council please contact me at lulusvintagepdx (at) gmail.com
This post was originally published on March 27, 2014.