spotlight interview...Aria Parfait Vintage

Please tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m Sienna, the gal behind Aria Parfait Vintage. I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University with an oh-so-lucrative art degree. After graduating, I joined a national organization which recruits recent college graduates to teach in high-poverty schools for two years, which brought me to Tulsa, OK. I love art books, coffee and sitting on the balcony of my 1920’s apartment.

Tell us a little about your shop?
All items in the shop are garments and accessories I would wear, or were in my personal collection and would like for them to have a new, well-loved life with someone else. I’m completely lost in a department store and generally just don’t like the fashions, fabrics, prints and quality of garments available today and I know I’m not the only one. I’d like to outfit the other gals out there who are also underwhelmed by department store fashions with unique, carefully selected pieces.

What inspired you to start your own vintage shop?
I’m into week 7 of my second year teaching and my first year was, how shall I put it, ROUGH. I’ve always been a thrifter, but I found myself using it as a therapy of sorts and with all the great flea markets and antique stores in the area I was coming across loads and loads of fantastic vintage. I began scooping up all sort of items - some that fit and some that didn’t -and began to grow a collection; a collection far outside the ability of one preschool teacher with next to no social life to wear. The idea of one day opening a store seemed like a far off option as teaching is incredibly time consuming and exhausting but then... then the glorious, wonderful summer came. With a lot of encouragement from friends and a lot of help from my very supportive boyfriend, I decided selling on Etsy would bring year two of teaching some much needed happiness and non-teacherly creativity.

What pleasures do you gain from being your own boss?
I love teaching and I love my students. However, being able to take a breath and do something completely unrelated to my more than full-time job is wonderful.

Take us through a typical day of running your business?
Each day is different. Establishing a routine so early on is quite difficult as I’m still not sure what works best for me. Before opening, I made an elaborate, all-encompassing inventory spreadsheet which I spent days creating and I hardly use it. The only thing that seems typical at this point is fitting shopping, photographing and listing into the short weekends. My students and their families occupy most of the work-week leaving some time for answering customer questions and packing and shipping.

How would you describe your customer?

Women who value quality, history and uniqueness.

Do you have a favorite time period? 
I love all things 1940s. The cuts and shapes of the 40s are very appealing and I think they fit me well. 
When you find yourself in a ‘creative rut’ (if so) how do you overcome those obstacles? 
I have to take breaks. Usually I’ll focus on another aspect of the shop or I’ll look at what other shops and artists are doing for a kick of inspiration. There are a lot of really fantastic shops out in Etsyland and perusing blogs, Pinterest and flickr tend to bring my motivation back.

What type of successful tools would you share with an inspiring shop owner?
Your photographs are your first line communication with potential customers. Purchase a good camera, a tripod, one of those fun little wireless remotes and establish a uniform look for your items.

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