Thursday, March 22, 2007

Today we are interviewing Lizzie of fuzzylizzie Vintage.

Viviene: What made you decide to get into the vintage clothing business?

Lizzie: I've been selling vintage clothing for over 20 years. I got started because I was buying for myself, and from time to time I would find a great piece of vintage that did not fit me nor suit my style, but I couldn't leave such a gem behind. I soon had lots of inventory. I first started selling by mail order, advertising in a little publication call the Vintage Clothing Newsletter, which was published by Terry McCormick in the mid to late 1980s.

Viviene: Did you start out with your website,, or was it something that evolved over time?

Lizzie: My website was started about two years ago. A lot of other people at the Vintage Fashion Guild were starting them and it just seemed like a good idea!

Viviene: What types of resources did you search to obtain your knowledge about vintage clothing?

Lizzie: I've been a collector of books on fashion history for as long as I can remember, so I have a pretty large library. I especially like books written during the era - such as 1940s fashion books as a source of information on 1940s fashion. I love and prefer primary sources.

Viviene: How has the internet impacted how you sell vintage items?

Lizzie: It's certainly made to easy to connect with a large body of buyers.

Viviene: If you had to pick a favorite era what would your favorite vintage clothing era be?

Lizzie: Probably the 1920s. I think I'm a flapper at heart!

Viviene: When was the first time you bought a vintage clothing item and what was it?

Lizzie: In the early 1970s, when I was in high school. An elderly neighbor was cleaning out her house and I bought a 1920s beaded bag for a quarter! I still have it.

Viviene: Do you wear vintage clothing yourself?

Lizzie: Yes, but not as much as I used to. When I taught school, I wore vintage sweaters or jackets almost every day. Now my dress is a bit more casual. But I plan to live in novelty skirts this summer!

Viviene: How did your love of vintage patterns come about?

Lizzie: I was taught to sew by my grandmother when I was 10, and I've loved sewing and patterns ever since. I used to go through her 1940s patterns when I was a kid in the 1960s, thinking how great they were! I sure wish I still had them.

Viviene: Have you seen an upsurge in customers wanting vintage patterns and if so why do you think that is?

Lizzie: Yes, I have. Crafts are very popular right now. Young women have discovered that making a garment really gives a feeling of accomplishment.

Viviene: Is there a particular vintage clothing label that seems to be all the rage that you just don't understand?

Lizzie: I've never really understood the attraction to Gunne Sax, but I think that is mainly because I can remember wearing it!

Viviene: What designer that is around now will be the "have to have" designer in years to come in the vintage business?

Lizzie: I sure wish I knew the answer to this one, but I don't!

Viviene: You are a member of the Vintage Fashion Guild. How long have you been a member and what has the guild provided you that you could not get elsewhere?

Lizzie: I have been a member since the VFG was formed in 2002. It's such a great organization, with lots of different experts on fashion. I know that if I have a question about any vintage fashion item, or about fashion history, that someone at VFG will be able to help me.

Viviene: You are in the process of re-organizing the Vintage Fashion Guild's label resource. How daunting a task is that or is it a labor of love?

Lizzie: It's both, actually. I've worked untold hours developing and refining it, but I've got to say how much I enjoy it. And I'm all the time hearing from interesting people who have information to add. I recently heard from cashmere sweater maker Bernhard Altmann's son. That was very nice!

Viviene: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone just starting out in the vintage clothing/pattern business?

Lizzie: Learn all you can about your items. Sell what you know and love. Don't think of selling vintage as a quick trendy buck, because it is hard work!

Viviene: Lizzie's stores are located at:

The Website

Babylon Mall

Specialist Auctions

Monday, March 19, 2007

Today I decided to write about the people who have taken the time to help me broaden my horizons. Some of them are teachers that I had in school and still others taught me without even knowing it.

The very most important teachers I have had in my entire life are my parents. Even though they are gone, they remain with me in a very constant way. They built the base on which all my other teachers were able to instill knowledge. My parents dealt with life with humor, kindness and above all unconditional love. Their lives were not without sadness or drama, however, how they handled that sadness and drama taught me so very much. There was also much happiness packed into their lives as well. Without that I would never be the person I am.

With my school teachers, we'll start with Mr. Thornburg. He was my freshman English teacher. I slumped my way into his class just after having my braces put on. I didn't want anyone to know I had them. I handed him my note from the office and he smiled at me with his crooked teeth and horn rimmed glasses and said "Smile because in a year you are going to be dazzling." This from a man who at that time must have been at least 60 (ancient in my eyes at that time). The lesson he taught me? You are beautiful! Smile!

Another freshman teacher I had was Mrs. Grundy, for my first year of typing (yes on a manual typewriter). Mrs. Grundy had bad breath. The freshman of my class (including me) decided to wrap up a bottle of mouthwash and put it on Mrs. Grundy's desk. Imagine our dismay when she opened that package and darted out of the classroom tears streaming down her face. The lesson she taught me? Be very careful what you do in jest because it can and will haunt you for the rest of your life. ( I apologize Mrs. Grundy. I was careless of your feelings and that was so very, very wrong).

Then there was Mrs. Allison of General Business class. She instilled in us the knowledge of how the business world worked. We studied advertising, work skills (which is why I took typing and shorthand) and the proper way to dress for an interview. She also had the no chewing gum rule and would make you put your gum on your nose for her entire class if she caught you chewing it.
Lesson learned here? How you present yourself the very first time can make or break if you get a job. Don't chew gum!

Sophomore year I had Mrs. Ross. She was my second year typing teacher. She tortured us with number drills, number drills, number drills and still more number drills. She also killed us on 4 page contracts with carbon paper (yes I am an old fart). Because of Mrs. Ross I was a whiz on the typing test when I applied for my first job as a mortgage typist where we used 4 page contracts with you guessed it, carbon paper. I was also a whiz on my typing test when I applied at the phone company (where I worked for 17 years). Those number drills saved my life as a service representative typing in orders for service, repair visits, etc. because, you guessed it, numbers, numbers, numbers!

Sophomore year I also had the pleasure of having Mr. Babcock for History. Now if school is anything like when I went, you learn up to the civil war and anything beyond that is never covered. It's the same history class over and over again. Not with Mr. Babcock. We studied the Kennedy assassination (which was heady stuff as I was in Mr. Babcock's class in 1975 which was a scant 12 years after the assassination). We watched the Zapruder film over and over again and scoured the library for any and all information about that day. We had to write a paper drawing our own conclusion as to what really happened. Lesson learned here? Your opinion is valuable and history is destined to repeat itself if you don't learn its lessons. It didn't hurt that Mr. Babcock set all the sophomore girls hearts aflutter either.

Junior year for me was all about band. I played cornet from the time I was in third grade. Mr. Bearden was my band director for 3 of my four years in high school. Mr. Bearden taught me that hard work did get you ahead. By practicing and refining my skills I was able to withstand trumpet challenges from other players vying for my spot because I was nitpicky. When I sight read music during challenges I was the one who saw the specifics and time and time again it won those challenges for me. Lesson learned here? Details are very important and can mean the difference between winning and losing.

During the summer between junior and senior year we moved to California. I was to be the editor of my high school paper but with moving that opportunity disappeared. So I went to my new school in California and became the editorial page editor of the newspaper and joined band.
School in California was less structured than attending school in Phoenix. The schedules were set on a seven day week and we had modules of free time. That time was spent honing my writing skills and cornet playing skills. The band was one of the best in the state of California and we went to many competitions. We won some and we lost some. I also competed state wide in a writing contest held by a local San Diego newspaper. I came in 10th in the editorial competition. Lesson learned? Competition is healthy and necessary. It helps you accept your triumphs and disappointments in your later life. Always winning teaches you nothing.

Onward to real life. Over the last 20 some odd years I've had many teachers, some professional and some not professional. I've had 3 careers. The first was with the phone company for 17 years. Here I learned about bureaucracy and how to survive and flourish in it.

My next career was as a medical transcriptionist for 6.5 years. On this job I learned that regardless of how hard I worked more was always expected and that there would never be a pay raise because I did an excellent job. Working for a very small business is much different than working for a bureaucracy.

My third career is the one I have now. I am a vintage clothing store owner, albeit my storefront is on the internet. Over the last 4 years I've learned from such knowledgeable people as Artizania, Scott, Daniel, Panda, Joel, Ikwewe, Holly, Joan, Betty Blackbent and a score of other people on the Ebay Vintage, clothing and accessories board. I lurked on that board for a good year before I ever posted a question. I soaked up their knowledge like a sponge. Now it's been said recently that we don't need these people. We can learn what they know from books. Well, I don't agree. These people aren't paid to come to the ebay board and spread their knowledge. They do it because they'd rather see the people there learn the correct information and build the vintage community. I'm also learning from the Vintage Fashion Guild members as well. Jonathan, Hollis, Lizzie and plenty of others add to my knowledge of vintage clothing and accessories on a daily basis. These people are more valuable than gold. They understand the value of educating the up and coming vintage sellers.

I've expanded my business beyond my wildest dreams. I've had very good experiences listening to my "gut." Very recently, as a matter of fact on Saturday, I applied for membership to the Evintage Society against the feelings of my "gut." On Sunday I was emailed that I had been turned down for membership. Evintage Society does not tell you why you were turned down, just that you are. At first I was bewildered. Had I done something to offend those on the new membership committee. Was I not a hard working individual? What possible reason could there be for not accepting me, a former Ebay seller with 100% positive feedback? Lesson learned here? Listen to your gut! If it doesn't feel right then it isn't for you.

So on I go learning my life lessons and learning more about the wonderful world of vintage clothing and accessories. I'm hoping that the "old guard" from the Ebay Vintage clothing and accessories board will start posting more often. I for one miss my "teachers" very much.

Remember by your actions and words you too are someone's teacher. Choose your words wisely because the internet will record them forever!

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Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, United States
We are the owners of Mod Mary's Vintage on Etsy.