Today we chat with Joanne of Louisa Amelia Jane, purveyor of fabulous vintage fashion finds.
1. Share a little about yourself … what makes you you?
I’ve always loved vintage clothes. I remember knitting myself a lacy jumper with a little collar from a 1940s book of my grandmother’s when I was 15. I loved that book so much. I still have it. Now I collect old knitting pattern books. I first started my Etsy shop to try to pay for that habit. I also love spending time in my garden and with my grandchildren.
2. What inspired you to create your business and how long have you been trading for?
I’ve had my main Etsy shop, Louisa Amelia Jane, for five years. Initially, I began selling scanned copies of out of copyright knitting patterns, but this is a copyright nightmare with a small return, so I discontinued that line. As I scoured second hand shops for old patterns, I found so many beautiful old things that I just had to share them. It snowballed from there.
3. Why did you choose the name you did for your business?
Louisa Amelia Jane was my Nana. I inherited her old pattern books, and it just seemed appropriate to name the store after her.
4. What do you sell and what sets them apart from other similar items on the market?
I sell vintage clothing and linen. I am one of the few vintage dealers who actually restores garments (to the best of my ability). I love finding a beautiful but damaged piece and working to give it a new life. Recently, I found a glorious wedding gown that was just brown all over from oxidisation. Now it’s glorious. www.etsy.com/au/listing/526907307/1940s-beaded-satin-vintage-wedding-dress
There’s a lot of research involved in working out how to restore a garment, and a lot of trial and error. Sometimes, I have to take risks, and occasionally I have a tragedy, but mostly I have successes, more or less. I also try to give great customer service. I am happy to accept returns. I measure my items very carefully, but if something doesn’t fit, I hope my customers tell me about it. I hate to think that people may be disappointed.
This year I was delighted to be accepted as a member of the Vintage Fashion Guild, an international body of experts who are trying to set standards for the industry, share knowledge and support each other.
5. If you could achieve anything you could imagine (without the boundaries of money or everyday life) what would your greatest dream for your business be?
I would love to be selling enough to justify a buying trip to Berlin or New York! My greatest dream is to attend Augusta Auctions in the US with a suitcase full of cash.
6. Where do you work on your business, and what platforms are you using to sell from (both online or offline)?
My office and shop are my upstairs spare rooms. I love the flexibility of working from home, although I don’t have the distractions of small children. I have two Etsy stores – Louisa Amelia Jane for fashion and linen items, and Louisas Needle for patterns and sewing supplies. I also have a clearance store on Ebay – Louisas Market. This month I have just opened a stall at The Vintage Emporium in Tyabb, which specialises in vintage fashion. It’s great to be able to invite local people to come there to try on an item when they send me an inquiry. The stock at The Vintage Emporium is different from the stock in the Etsy store.
7. If you were starting again on Etsy now what would you do differently?
If I were starting on Etsy all over again I would not bother with the scanned patterns which I originally began with. Too much worry for too little return. Although, it was a bit of fun.
8. What is the most useful thing you have learned while using Etsy?
I have learned so much from using Etsy. From photography and photo editing, to social media, to marketing. Actually, one skill which I brought to Etsy which has been extremely useful is tagging. I was a librarian for years, so thinking categories and search terms is second nature to me, always thinking “If someone were looking for this, what search term would they use?”
9. Outside your business, what inspires you?
Outside my Etsy store, I am inspired by my beautiful local environment, and by my mother’s stories about her life growing up. She has taught me so much about the fashions of the 50s. If I’m not sure whether a garment might be 40s or 50s, I ask Mum. She will say “Oh, no, we wouldn’t have worn THAT! That’s what our mothers wore”. Or she might say “Yes, that was all the rage in the 50s”. She still hates 40s dresses, they remind her of her stern old aunt.
10. If you could inspire the world with a quote, what would it be?
My favourite quote is supposedly Oscar Wilde’s last words: “Either those curtains go, or I do.” Just shows how it’s important to have things around you which give you joy. Also, be careful of setting an ultimatum!
11. Where can we find out more about your business?
Blog : vintageknitpatterns.blogspot.com.au/
Ebay clearance store – Louisa’s Market: stores.ebay.com.au/louisasmarket
Kelly from Colourscape Studios and and Kaz from Kazzycaboodles are currently the writers for the Australian Wandarrah Blog. If you'd like to join us on a fulltime or casual basis, please convo Kelly on Etsy for more details!