Wednesday, May 16, 2012

day 15: an interview with shelley


I'm so excited to introduce you to Shelley!  Shelley is the proud owner of the The Rag and Bone, my favorite brick and mortar and Etsy vintage seller.  I met shelley many years ago (like 7+ years ago?!) at my then job.  We've kept in contact ever since, and I've had the pleasure of collaborating with her on many projects.  Living in a small town, I'm finding the true value in being able to work with creative and independent people like Shelley.

You can find her at The Rag and Bone in State College and on Etsy.  Get the latest news from The Rag and Bone on both Twitter and Facebook.

Tell us a little bit about your business and how long you've been established.
The Rag and Bone is a vintage boutique for women and men specializing in vintage clothing and accessories primarily from the 1940's through the 1980's.
I opened the shop in August of 1995 - almost 17 years ago now. In addition, I recently opened an online shop through Etsy, which I'm excited to be building up as well.

In what phase of your life did you decide to persue your own business venture?
Through college and just after graduation, I did several internships in my major of advertising. That experience made me realize the office cubicle was not where I wanted to spend 8 hours a day.
I started exploring the idea of opening a vintage shop because I was very interested in the idea of working for myself, doing something I was passionate about and that filled a void in the town I decided to set up shop.

More specifically, what made you decide to open a boutique?
State College, where my shop is located, is home to Penn State University which has a student population of over 40,000 students. There was not a vintage shop in town when I opened so I figured with 40,000 students, there must be a handful that like vintage, so why not try it out here. On a personal note, opening a boutique for me meant an amazing challenge doing something I loved and was interested in sharing with others.

What were your biggest fears when you started your business?
I built it, but would they come??? I had a lot to learn about running a retail business which I had zero knowledge of, so naturally I worried as any babe in the woods would. But I also started off very small and conservatively, meaning I didn't get myself into a lot of debt to start, so if I could see it wasn't going to work out I could get out of it easily with a killer yard sale.

What did you learn about your strength in over-coming those fears?
That I'm super duper stubborn which can certainly be a strength in business.  Also, that I'm not afraid of hard work and a challenge when doing something I love. And finally, that the things you fear because they are unfamiliar or not mastered yet always end up the things you feel most proud of once you've learned it and mastered it with perseverance.

What's the best part of owning your own shop?
Doing things the way I want, having creative freedom, having control over my schedule, the feeling of pride and achievement as I build it. I think sometimes I'm a bit too emotionally attached to the shop like its an entity in itself versus just a business that makes a buck because it's definitely an extension of me. My mark is all over it, but I just can't imagine it any other way.

Any words of wisdom for all the budding entreprenuers out there?
Despite being in business for myself for a good number of years, I still find myself seeking out and scribbling down little motivational quotes I read here and there to stay inspired and empowered. Here's the latest one I found and liked:
Behind every success is effort. Behind every effort is passion. Behind every passion is a chance that someone took at being wrong.

Lastly, what would you be doing right now if you hadn't started your own business?
If I had ended up in that cubicle for any length of time, the longer I stayed, the harder I think it would have been to break out. It's easy to get conditioned to think its okay to hate your job. I think I would have eventually come around but it is scary to take chances and get out of the comfort zone, especially the older you get. But now I know, it's never too late. Anther quote: It's better to begin in the evening that not at all.

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