Clothes, Clothes, Wonderful Clothes!

I’m here today to answer one of the most common questions I’ve gotten as the owner of a vintage business.  “How do you decide which clothes to sell and which clothes to keep for yourself?”

I’m answering this on the heels of a new haul of clothing, which I go into detail about on my alternative blog on Sephine Vintage!  (Please check it out).

Out of the 15-ish garments I collected, only one stood out for me as something I had to keep for myself.  It’s a 1950’s black chiffon dress that was so akin to something Marilyn Monroe would classically wear.  It had it all – the breezy skirt, the wrap-around wide-cinched waist, the cascading fabric bust that tied around the neck and left the back uncovered.  To some, just a little black dress, but I knew the instant I put it on that it was a staple of my own personal style.

If I could, I would absolutely wear everything in my store 24/7.  I am proud and envious of all my wonderful customers who get to call Sephine collected pieces their own.  But when you have such a wide array of clothing to select from, you must narrow it down to not only fabulous pieces, but pieces that speak to you as an individual.  This discernment is essential.  You must figure out what type of person you want to be, and make sure your wardrobe speaks to this.  The Marilyn Monroe dress spoke to me because it embodied elements of femininity, sexuality, and power.  It’s playful with an edge.  A rose with thorns.  A woman with a sharp gaze.  Enchanting-yet-mysterious has always been my favorite elegant woman quality.

Oh, and did I mention it’s incredibly fun to dance in?

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Cheers,

Josephine

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Alternative to Being ‘Aloof’: Being Memorable

Disclaimer: This is an article written by a woman, speaking about ideas that came from women, that are embodied by women.  I value every individual woman’s expression of herself, and in no way seek to change or alter a style or artistic decision that makes anyone feel comfortable in their own skin.

For the longest time, I couldn’t put my finger on why I had such a hard time relating to the culture of chasing fragility.  Seeing women talking about their desire to be soft, milky, delicate, angelic, a baby princess flower, conjured up no inspiration within me.  I thought that the ease and elegance of femininity was beautiful, and I wanted to be close to it, but not at the risk of losing my punch.  The fire that keeps me going.  For me femininity is, at it’s best, awe-inspiring, and at it’s worst, dangerously insidious.  This beautiful double-edged sword of womanhood is something that occupies my thoughts frequently.

This is why instead of being aloof, I propose, being memorable.

Be incredibly tangible to others.  Make them know exactly who you are.

Wear your favorite scent of perfume proud wherever you go; make them smell you even after you’re gone.  Laugh loudly, listen attentively, tell stories passionately.  Meet your partner in conversation with a steady gaze.  Wear clothing and accessories that shine, that you can see through, that cover you head-to-toe, that have sequins, that jingle when you walk, that click as you leave, that you can play with.

Carefully select the refreshments available in your home.  Such a dire mistake it would be, for a guest to be served a sweet bubbling rosé, when you know in your heart that your soul is best embodied by a bold Chateau Lagrange red.  Keep your kitchen well-stocked and inviting; your living room clean and plush.  Make obvious the fruits of your labour, and make bountiful your place of being.

Don’t speak of work, of money, of troubles, of politics – those are the easy routes when it comes to conversation.  Take another’s mind somewhere they would otherwise not go.  Speak of travel, of obscure spiritual concepts, music and artistry, ask them questions, be interested in their answers.  Recall fond memories, share heartfelt sentiments, conjure up grand images of the future, but … be sure not to give away more information than you genuinely want others to know.  There is power in refinement, and keeping certain things to yourself.

The ultimate goal of being remembered fondly is to make sure that in any interaction, you are neither used, nor are you using the other person.  You are embodying your fullest and brightest version of yourself.  The rose gardens of your mind are in full bloom.

This, to me, is the highest calling.

The most darling and the most dangerous thing, after all, is an unforgettable woman.

[Featured Image: La volupte  – Madeleine Jeanne Lemaire]

The Hope-Renewing Kindness of Strangers

A quick write-up about something that happened to me today that has left my heart brimming and my face grinning!

Picture this, if you can.  The weather is unseasonably sunny for late winter in Oregon.  My husband and I have decided to take the early morning off and play hooky, strut around downtown,  and drive up the Skinner’s Butte to sunbathe.  There’s a beautiful pink victorian style house at the base of the Butte, functioning as a lingerie and nightwear boutique, that has always caught my eye.  For years, I’ve forgotten to take a peek inside.  I thought, why not stop in for once?  It being such a nice day, and my mood being so bright.

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Once inside, I find myself waxing poetic about how lovely the fixtures are, how much I love vintage homes and vintage things.  On the topic, I strike up a conversation with the charming lady working at the front desk, with neatly combed grey hair and lovely earrings on.  We discover her parents were named Josephine and John, just like my great grandparents were named Josephine and John, just like I was named Josephine after my great grandmother.  She tells me she was an interior designer for Bath & Body Works in the 60’s, and that she designed vintage Victoria’s Secret interiors as well.  We go on a tangent then, about how much more quality products were made back in the day, and how tacky commercial products have become.

That’s when I start talking about my business  (“Well, you know, I own a vintage clothing shop online”) .  She seems interested, so I begin showing her pictures, starting with a 60’s Valentino jacket, one of my favorites in the store.  She then tells me that it looks just like a coat that her mother had, and excuses herself to go look for it upstairs.

About 3 minutes later, she comes back down, holding an absolutely gorgeous grey double-breasted coat, buttons in two rows down the front, mink fur and neckline.  It’s in plastic wrap and clearly impeccably preserved.  She begins showing it to me, the features, and how mint the fabric is.  And then came the words that made my entire day:

“I want you to have it.”

Me?  Have?!  For Real?!?

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The infamous coat, graciously modeled by my mother.

I was blown away!  She explained that the thought her mother would be happy knowing the coat went to someone so passionate about vintage, and quality clothing.

 

I thanked her many many many many many many times and I’m quite certain me and my husband ended up giving her a group hug.  Needless to say I was bouncing out of the store giddy!

 

The coat itself is union label, and worth a great deal.  I haven’t decided yet wether I am to sell it or wear it myself, as a little thank-you to the late Josephine and her extremely generous daughter.

Uncommon Scents at the Meridian and The Unexpectedly Delightful Honeysuckle Bath Bomb

Hello darlings, bold beauties, and modern classics!

Today’s topic of review is self-care, specifically in the form of the Barr-Co Honeysuckle Bath Bomb.  This product is currently sold out online, but available through my favorite local skin, bath, & body shop: Uncommon Scents at the Meridian.  If you are interested in purchasing this wonderful quick-selling item from their store, simply give them a call!

As part of a recent development in my life, I’ve begun work as an independent web designer and social media specialist.  I’m overjoyed to be able to put my work towards a company I can not only say aligns with my core values of Earth-friendly and ethical business, but a company I have been shopping at for-ev-er!  Yes, that company is Uncommon Scents at the Meridian.  They’ve lovingly gifted me this bath bomb to spark off an upcoming blogging series, where I review products sold (and even made) by Uncommon Scents at the Meridian.

But enough about my business endeavors –

lets talk about this delightful bath bomb!

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The Barr-Co is an offshoot of K Hall Designs that has had a dramatic growth spurt in popularity.  You can find their products in local shops, as well as chain stores such as Anthropologie.

They specialize in “simplistic, clean designs using the most natural ingredients available” (source).  I truly felt this message was carried out in their Honeysuckle scented Bath Bomb, featuring only 6 easily readable and identifiable ingredients!

 

Highlights of this product:

  • Delicate and enchanting scent, extremely true to that of a real Honeysuckle.  I have often thought many bath bombs had an almost overpowering scent that made their extended use unpleasant, and found that the Barr-Co’s product was easy on the senses.
  • Silky Feeling.  Another one of my problems with some bath bombs is the unpleasant sensation left on your skin after use.  But instead of an oily or heavy residue interfering with my post-bath rituals, I stepped out with my skin shimmering and silky.  It was as if I’d been wrapped up in a big satin scarf!
  • Quick Dissolving with a Delightful Fizz.  Part of the fun of bath bombs is always watching them bubble and unfurl in the water – this one was no different.

The only downsides I can comment on was that, like most bath bombs, it left a colorful ring around the tub that must be cleaned eventually.  This also might not be an ideal product for those who buy bath bombs primarily for the visuals.  It did not significantly alter the color of the water, or product any fun designs, shimmer, or shapes.

Overall, I would say that the Honeysuckle Barr-Co Bath Bomb is ideal for a relaxing night in after a long day at work.  Prepare yourself a nice bowl of fresh fruit, perhaps a glass of champagne and a sheet mask, and drop this ball of joy into the water for a spa-like experience right from the comfort of your own home!

A big thank you to Uncommon Scents at the Meridian and the Barr-Co!  Reviewing this product was a joy and I will absolutely be purchasing it in the future.

Cheers,

Josephine

 

Finding Work as a Young Creative

Unless you’re the type of person who strives to obtain a straightforward blue/white collar career – say, a lawyer, doctor, police officer, accountant, or banker – and has stuck to your life rubric strictly, the process of job applications can be quite frustrating.  It’s a tough world out there for people who are young, and creatively-inclined, to find work.

Take myself, for example.  I was an A-student in highschool, published a poetry collection, my own album, made short films, played live music, got accepted into a private university, had 2+ years of retail experience, and own my own small business.  Great right?  Then why was I also rejected for entry-level jobs at Fred Meyers, Cinemark Movie Theaters, Rite-Aid, and Goodwill?  The reason they provided was that I “did not meet the qualifications”, and of course, this was simply not true.  It got me thinking; what ulterior reasoning did they have to deny me work?  What could I do differently in the future to make myself appealing to ‘normal’ types of businesses?

For many of us, life is first and foremost about happiness and creativity.  This is not in ignorance of the financial realities we all face, but in honor of how precious being alive truly is.  Many of us, wether successful or not, will make the attempt to marry our passions and careers.  That’s the dream, is it not?  To make a good income doing something you love?  Wether it’s starting a small business in your field, or publishing your artwork, taking this leap is an admirable and valiant stride.  A stride that might not be profitable right away.

No matter how incredible your talent, it’s a simple fact: the majority of creatives will need a dreaded regular job.

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I’ll need a WHAT???

But relax!  That’s why this article is here.  To take away some of the anxiety around job hunting, and to help you avoid a wave of the same rejection letters I received.

 

Step 1: Your Resume

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My special skills include finishing a whole bottle of Chardonnay without making myself sick!

Your resume is the cornerstone of your job hunt, and different businesses look for different things in a prospective employee.

This is why, for creatives, I like to propose:

The Jekyll and Hyde Solution to Resume Dropping.

 

It goes like this.  Some businesses – like Fred Meyers, Rite-Aid, Cinemark, or Goodwill, just want to hire regular-to-do folks who don’t have any particular ambitions and won’t want to leave the company, ask for too many raises, or cause too much of a fuss.  They want you to be dependable, honest, and ultimately normal.

Then there’s other businesses, who I have had experiences with too.  Places like The Body Shop, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Pressed Juicery, and local small establishments, that focus on things you may be interested in.  These businesses may actually value having an innovative and creative mind on their team.

Two different types of jobs?  You’re going to need a resume for each one.

Building Your Jekyll Resume

  1. Google some Resume tips, and follow the ones that speak to you.  Most resume advice articles are aimed at people seeking white-collar office work, so only use what is applicable to you and your job hunt.  After all, you’re a broke millennial, not the Wolf of Wall Street.  Google docs also has some excellent resume templates that can make your resume look beautiful, and even make it easier to build.
  2. Buff up your work experience with volunteer work, odd jobs, and seasonal activities.  Did you mow your neighbors lawn a few times?  You were previously an independently contracted gardener.  Did you have a school mentorship program with a woodworker?  You were an apprentice and learned valuable skills.  That time you were a camp counselor over the summer?  You are a team-builder with leadership skills.  Ect, ect, ect.  Embellishments, as long as they can’t disprove them, are always welcome.
  3. Put in as few clues about your age as possible.  Age discrimination is rampant amongst hiring departments, so give them no indications to work with.  And remember: it’s illegal for someone to ask for your birth date during the hiring process.
  4. Don’t list your creative accomplishments.  I know!  I know.  Save it for your second resume.  Keep your skills and experience related directly to typical work.

Building Your Hyde Resume

  1. Duplicate your Jekyll resume into a new document, and build upon it.  You’re still going out for a job, and you still want to appear professional.  Keep your work experience the same, keep your references and skills the same.  It’s important to have your ‘regular’ resume be a base for the second.
  2. This time around, go for it!  You want to add that you own a small business?  Sure!  And remember to make it sound appealing to your potential boss.  Did you do freelance art?  Web design (for yourself)?   Run someone’s professional social media account?  List it!  Embellish it!  Make it sound extremely fancy and intriguing.

And of course, second opinions are always good when it comes to professional documents.  If you’re unsure, ask a parent, friend, or mentor.

 

Step 2: Finding a Job That Doesn’t Make You Want to Die

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I’ll read your memos in hell.

What good is a job if it ruins your life?  It’s always been my philosophy that, unless you’re on the verge of extreme poverty, no job is worth your health or sanity.  There are a few types of companies that can be specific circles of hell, especially for out-of-the-box thinkers.  Here are some red flags that can help you avoid grueling work early on:

Companies with credit card programs will drive you insane.  Many of these companies have “credit goals”, meaning you have to make a certain number of customers sign up for credit cards each month, or else they’ll cut your hours, or even fire you.  This kind of pressure is nonsensical at best, and we really don’t need to be contributing to the credit problem in America, so avoid it!  Macy’s, JCP, Victoria’s Secret, and similar outlets, all have pretty intense credit programs.

Companies with sales goals will also drive you insane.  Okay, maybe not all companies with sales goals.  But companies that emphasize sales goals?  Steer clear.  Here’s why.  I used to work as a minimum-wage sales associate for a small local business.  They would be upset with me, or my coworkers, for not selling “an average of 30 dollars per hour” when we would only have about 10 people walk into the store on any given day.  This is why sales goals drive me up the wall!  If you’re saying hello to everyone who walks through the door, being friendly, demonstrating good product knowledge, and doing your best – that’s it.  If the customer doesn’t make a purchase, it’s not your fault, you tried everything short of manipulation and force.  Sales goals exist to create competition and pressure, yet don’t necessarily increase revenue.

Sometimes, a crappy job can be fun.  When you’re creative, the ideal job is one that gives you part-time hours, a living wage, and leaves your mind completely when you’re not on-duty.  You want somewhere you can show up, do a good job, and leave.  Places that might seem low-scale, disorganized, or outdated, can actually end up being a lot of fun.  Waitressing at a medium-paced diner, working in a thrift store, doing concessions at a bowling alley, can give you the feeling of almost having an alter-ego.

Keep good company.  Getting a job somewhere that only has one or two employees is exhausting.  Much of the time, you’ll be the only one in the store, and therefore bored out of your mind.  Seek jobs where you’ll have lots of coworkers to chat with, and share solidarity with if your manager makes a weird decision.

Step 3: Presenting Yourself To Employers

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Describe myself in three words?  I Love Money!

We’re going to return to that Jekyll and Hyde concept.

If you’re going out for a normal job, with a normal resume, make sure you too are fairly normal.  If your usual getup is – and I’m talking about myself here – heels and a statement swing dress with a wide-brim vintage hat, it might be time to dig up a pair of jeans and a blouse.  Similarly, consider removing some piercings, pulling your hair back, or borrowing your mom’s work blazer.

When I was interviewing to work at Shari’s (a family-oriented diner chain), I made a specific effort to present myself as a little dim-witted.  Not brainless, just friendly and simple.  I told them I played music with my dad, I liked clothing and jewelry, and I’ve eaten at Shari’s for years!  After the interview, I received a great response, and was told then all loved me.

I had picked up on the fact that my “impressive businesswoman” tactic might not have been effective in this specific instance, and changed my approach accordingly.

Similarly, when I went into The Body Shop to drop off my resume, I let myself be a little more ‘me’.  I wore my usual dress and heels getup, told them about my vintage clothing business, complimented the ladies on how they were all great saleswomen.  I was charming, witty, and motivated.  I was the kind of person they were looking for.

The point is – pick a persona that works for the job you’re applying for, and stick to it thoroughly.  Outfit and all.

Conclusions

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I can’t believe you made me read all those words about resumes and sales goals and interviews and stuff.

Try not to worry too much!  Everyone who wants a job gets a job eventually.  If you don’t like it, you can leave and find another one, and one after that, and one after that.

Just remember to continue thinking outside of the box, and moving towards your own goals: the important ones.  Not if you’re able to sell 10 credit cards per month, but if you’re able to sit down at the end of the day and be proud of the life you’re living, and the path you’re on.  Figure it out, slow down, take it easy.

This isn’t a fast lane, but it’s a lane worth being in.

Cheers,

Josephine