Maker Mondays: Fancy Lucky Vintage

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Hi there and welcome to the first installment of Maker Mondays.  Each week we will feature a different member of our Maritime Makers – Nova Scotia team.  With such a wonderfully diverse group, it is always interesting to hear about the range of experiences and learn about all of the unique skills that our team members possess.  It really does keep our meetings exciting as we learn more and more about each other.  Now, we are giving you the same chance – virtually – to meet our members, and learn about how they approach their craft, have grown a business and how they got to this spot in the first place!

So, without further ado meet our first member: Amy Honey of FancyLuckyVintage

Amy is more than a maker:  she is a keeper of times past, a mender of memories, and a curator of the rare and valuable.  Amy is a seller of vintage clothing and accessories who along with maintaining an online presence through etsy, she also sells from a shop, idyllically located cliff side, above the crashing waves of Lawrencetown Beach.

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Where did your love of vintage come from? And do you have a particular era that is your absolute favorite?

I first discovered vintage clothing as a teenager, I used to love going to a little shop called Junk & Foibles in Halifax, and was enthralled with all of the different eras and styles. I loved wearing unique clothing that no one else had. When I moved to Halifax after graduating high school, I needed to make some extra money to pay rent so I started going to thrift stores and collecting pieces to consign at the vintage shops, this led me to the research and restoration that is now such a huge part of my business, and I truly enjoy learning new things about fashion history every single day. I also love the thrill of the hunt!

I’d say my favourite fashion era is the 1940s, fashions worn during the war. It was a time of great change for women, they went from being housewives and mothers to being factory workers and farmers almost overnight. The clothing of this era reflects a no nonsense hard working utilitarian style, yet at the end of a hard working day these women could still put on a beautifully feminine dancing dress and look like a million bucks despite all the hardships they were going through. These women always looked so well put together in the face of unimaginable strife and I find this very inspiring. I also love the thrifty vibe of wartime fashion in the 1940s, the whole “make do and mend” philosophy. This has been the backbone of my entire vintage business, and still holds true today in the sense of promoting the use of recycled and re-purposed goods to help make less of an impact on the resources of our planet.

Fancy Lucky Vintage

{Fancy Lucky // Summoning Spring | Clothing: Fancy Lucky Vintage | Styling & Photography: Amy Honey | Models: Caralee Murphy, Jill Manos | Photographed in Seaforth, NS – March 2015}

You mentioned that you had a shop in BC and had to make the decision to close and move back home. Based on that experience, plus your current successes with the Seaside Shop, what advice could you provide to someone who is pondering the idea of opening a B&M shop?

I’d say that if you want to open a bricks and mortar shop, you should do it! It is by no means easy to do, but if you work hard enough at it it’s totally worth it. The first five years are the hardest, but if you’re making good money after that you’re probably going to survive and prosper. The biggest challenge for me is trying to find a way to have the shop open as much as possible, yet still find time to do Etsy listings, which I do from home. Its almost like having two jobs. The one thing that I have found to be very helpful is to staff the shop with people who make things or sell vintage. I offer a “co-op” deal where if you work one day a week you can keep 100% of what you sell, instead of me paying staff. This eliminates the whole payroll problem (a huge part of most small business’ overhead!) and everyone gets a chance to sell their wares, network with the public and make 100% of their money. This way the shop can be open 7 days a week, but I’m only physically there two days a week and can do Etsy listings and administrative work from home, knowing that my shop is in good hands.

Fancy Lucky Vintage

{(Film) Photography: Veronica Horsman | Clothing: Fancy Lucky Vintage | Styling: Amy Honey & Eva Brannen | Model: Alex Sims | Shot on location in Seaforth, NS – January 2015.}

You also talked about how you love your rural community and how you love being given the opportunity to promote your community.  What community initiatives are you involved in, if any?

I do indeed love my rural community, I was born and raised here and although I did spend 18 years away, I’m back now and I’m committed to staying forever. This includes investing in my community with whatever I have to offer. Currently I am volunteering one day a week at Hope For Wildlife, a wildlife rescue and rehab just around the corner from my house. As well, I raise funds and sit on the board for a locally based charity called Project COLORS, they are helping kids and street dogs in poverty stricken countries all over the world. I’m also a member of the MacDonald House Association, my shop is in the historic MacDonald House and our mission is to preserve and protect this beautiful building, and maintain it as a public space. There are also numerous smaller initiatives that I am involved with, everything from beach clean ups to selling calendars to benefit our local Heritage Museum to shovelling my 87 year old neighbour’s driveway. In my opinion, it takes a village to raise a village, not just on a local level but on a global level. We need to help each other survive and prosper, and the best place to start is your own back yard.

Crafters/artisans and small entrepreneurs could have a very positive impact on a local economy.  How do we convince our local officials to hear this message and offer support in those endeavours?

It would definitely be easier if the government would just give anyone who wants to start a small business some money in the form of a grant to help develop our local economy, but unfortunately that is not the way it works. There are initiatives such as the CEED program, and the Canadian Business Development Corporation (CBDC) who offer some excellent resources to entrepreneurs, so I do think that there are resources in place and that the government takes small business development in rural areas very seriously.

That said I did not seek any financial assistance from my local government to start my business, I started with about $20 spent at a thrift store and have built what I have using the same theory as the guy who traded a paperclip until he got a house. I think by simply doing, we can achieve our goals. You really can start from nothing if you just keep working and investing the fruits of your labours back into the thing you are trying to build. People often think that they need a lot of financial assistance to build a small business and that it can’t be done without a bank loan or a government grant, but this is simply not true, at least not at the level of artisans/crafters and vintage dealers. Opening a restaurant or something like a well drilling company would be a whole other ballgame, because you would need an original start up investment or capitol, but at the level of an independent crafter (or vintage seller) that wants to start making money, it’s very easy. If you’re thrifty and think outside the box, you can make or find something, and you can sell it.

The hardest part is that you really do have to work hard, harder than you have probably ever worked at a paid job. I always say that I am the worst boss I’ve ever had, haha. Basically you have to treat your business like a job, and finding the motivation and the discipline to do this can be challenging. The government can’t help you with that!

I have actually found my local government sponsored initiatives to be very helpful in terms of promoting the small businesses in the community. I have been featured in our local tourism brochures (for free), and I’ve always had a good rapport with our local leaders, they want to see small business prosper, and they respect people who take their own initiative to make small business work. Perhaps the only area I think they could improve on would be to make people more aware of the resources they provide such as CEED and CBDC. I have talked to people in my shop who would like to start their own small business and they often don’t even know these services exist.

Fancy Lucky Vintage

{Fancy Lucky // We Are the Wild  | Photos: Deedee Morris Photography | Clothing: Fancy Lucky Vintage | Styling: Amy Honey & Eva Brannen | Model: Jess Flynn}

You’ve been on Etsy for a number of years.  What changes have you seen that you feel have been particularly positive, and what have some of the negatives been?  Are there any features that you really miss and/or would love to see implemented?

Etsy certainly has changed a lot over the years! I think now there are a lot more buyers on Etsy and that is definitely a positive change. I think Etsy is becoming more and more of a household name for people interested in the handmade and vintage scene, and it’s great to sell on a platform that people have actually heard of. I think having Google picking up all of the keywords is great too, it’s not such a challenge to drive traffic to my shop now by using social media, which can be exhausting. Having the ability to accept credit cards on Etsy is a great addition too, fewer and fewer buyers pay with Paypal now, which has cut down on a lot of bank fees. And I’ve always loved the friendly vibe on Etsy! Everyone seems to be so nice and easy going.

On the negative side, although there are more buyers on Etsy now there are also more sellers, which makes standing out from the crowd more challenging. I sell vintage, so it’s not as competitive as selling handmade because each of my items is one of a kind, but I feel bad for people who sell something like soap, there are thousands of soap sellers on Etsy! I’m betting the competition is very fierce for handmade sellers.

I do find that I’m having trouble with this SEO business, aka Search Engine Optimization. Just when you think you’ve got all of your listings revised and current with the way the Google-bots read your listings, a new algorithm comes along and you have to change it all again. I really don’t have time for that, so if Etsy had a better built in search engine, perhaps we wouldn’t have to spend so much time revising wording on our titles and keywords. My stats tell me that the biggest percentage of hits on my keywords come from searches within Etsy, so I think they should design their search engine the way Ebay does, where you don’t even have to think about the order of your title words etc.

One last little glitch that is concerning to me lately is that more and more people are using their smart phones for everything, including shopping on Etsy. Although the Etsy app is developed and I use it (as well as the Etsy Seller app), it is not the best app I’ve used. It frequently crashes on me and I’ve had buyers tell me that it doesn’t work on their phone. Perhaps this app needs to be developed a bit more?

You have been involved with the Maritime Makers team for some time.  What do you see as some long term goals for the team?

I love how the Maritime Makers team is promoting and nurturing an amazing scene here in the Martimes and I look forward to being a part of it for a long time to come! I sell many of the items featured on the MM team in my bricks and mortar shop and find it to be an excellent resource for finding locally handmade items to have in stock.

What do you feel are the benefits of working as a team over going it completely alone?

I’m a true DIY kind of girl and I prefer to do things myself when it comes to running my business, but networking and connecting with other sellers on Etsy who are in my area is really nice, that’s where being on a team has a positive impact on my business. Even just knowing that we’re all in the same boat when a February storm hits and we have to delay our post office visit is kinda nice. It adds a sense of local community to an otherwise very vast Etsy pond. I also really value the opportunities that a small group of like minded organized people can create, like the Etsy: Made in Canada Market. It wouldn’t even be possible without a dedicated group of people to make it happen in our community!

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Connect with Amy & Fancy Lucky Vintage: 

ETSY SHOP | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER 

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