Among my many duties as community outreach manager and social media kingpin (ha, ha) for the Texas Style Council Conference is creating content for the TxSC blog. So along with writing posts for Dress With Courage, I've been posting for that blog as well. It's no wonder I've been so busy!
I had the privilege of interviewing Pamela, founder of Market Publique, for the TxSC blog, and I've decided to include the interview here as part of my Thrifting 101 series. I was fortunate to meet Pamela in New York City this past fall, and trust me when I tell you that few people are as knowledgeable about thrifting and vintage as she is. As founder of Market Publique, the online marketplace for vintage clothing and accessories, Pamela is smart, stylish, and incredibly down to earth.
Read through for my interview with Pamela, and get to know her and Market Publique!
Elissa: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been in NYC? What’s your background?
Pamela: I was born and raised in Guatemala City and moved to New York to go to Parsons School of Design. I loved it so much I stayed and I have lived here for almost 8 years. My background is in design, fine art and business. Most of my experience is with User Experience and Interaction Design and Product Development -- which means I analyze and anticipate how people will use a website and design features to solve their problems or make their interactions easier. Before, I used to design and develop marketing & advertising campaigns for clients like Estée Lauder, InStyle Magazine, The New Museum and others.
E: How did you first get introduced to thrifting?
P: When I was younger, my family and I traveled to Florida for the holidays almost every year. My grandmother and dad love thrift stores and garage sales and I would often tag along. While they were busy with the housewares, I would browse through the jewelry and clothes and realized I could get similar styles to what I could get at the mall but at much lower prices -- and reduce the risk of showing up to school in the same dress as someone else! When you are a teenager on an allowance that’s huge!
E: When did you become passionate about buying and wearing vintage clothing and accessories?
P: Once my grandma realized that I loved older things, she started giving me things from her closet -- a necklace, a belt, a handbag here and there. I loved them and and they became my favorite and most-worn things. My mom also gave me all her Gucci bags from the 70s and 80s. Later on I started collecting my own vintage and found that a lot of times it fit better than new clothes. There’s nothing like a 50s dress for me - - the fit is just right and the fabrics are way better than what you can get for similar prices. I also collect vintage jewelry, as it never goes out of style and is unique and statement-making.
E: What is the best thing you’ve ever thrifted? What’s the most cherished piece in your closet today?
P: The most treasured things in my closet by far are always what has been passed down to me. My great-grandmother’s Guatemalan chachal, my mom’s 70s Gucci purses and belts, my grandma’s jade necklace and turquoise and pearl pins...
The best things I’ve ever thrifted are surprisingly not clothing! I found a replica Arco lamp and a Wassily chair at Housing Works Thrift shop. I got an amazing deal on both pieces, especially because the lamp needed to be rewired - which is not that much! If you buy the original ones new at Design Within Reach they would have cost me over $5,000!
E: What inspired you to start Market Publique?
P: I had been selling vintage on the site on eBay and then, after all the changes to their policies, feedback system and fees, I switched for a while to Etsy, but found that neither of them had the right tools to sell vintage online. It takes a really long time to list an item for sale on eBay and at the end of it it doesn’t look all that and they hit you with a ton of fees. On Etsy I felt that you couldn’t really brand your shop and make it stand out and portray your style.
I looked for other alternatives but realized there was nothing out there for vintage specifically. Since I have a background in building web-based products, I decided to do something about it and build it! We are the only community exclusively for vintage, so we have become a destination for buyers looking for fashionable vintage. Our tools, taxonomy and listing process is designed specifically for vintage, making it easier & quicker to list than on Ebay or Etsy, and easier to shop as well.
We curate the sellers, which are either invited or go through an application process, to ensure that everyone is in good company and the quality of vintage and photography on the site stays high. This is very important to both sellers and buyers because it elevates vintage as a whole. When you have people selling items photographed on the carpet or on a scary mannequin with an unbrushed wig, it perpetuates the stigma some people have of vintage being 'old clothes' or not fashionable. Our site is for great quality, stylish vintage that can integrate seamlessly into your everyday wardrobe.
We also advertise and are present in many other fashion communities like Chictopia, Lookbook.nu, Fashism and more, and work with bloggers to inspire people to wear vintage in modern ways and show them how to mix it in with their new items.
E: How does Market Publique work?
P: We curate sellers & boutiques from around the world, who are either invited or go through an application process (if you are a seller or boutique you can find more information here and apply here. Each seller uploads their item listings complete with photos, descriptions, measurements and price, including how much the shipping on that item is.
As a buyer, you can register or log in to purchase an item outright or place a bid, depending on the listing. You pay the seller for the item directly via PayPal, and the seller ships the item to you. You can then rate your experience by leaving feedback. We charge the seller a small listing fee ($0.25), plus a small percentage commission (5%) once the item sells.
E: What are the advantages of buying vintage on Market Publique, as opposed to eBay?
P: Because our site is exclusively for vintage, there’s no guesswork into whether or not an item is really vintage and a lot less searching and sifting through an overwhelming amount of mis-categorized listings or vintage knockoffs. There’s also a lot more trust in our community, as the sellers are vetted and curated by us. They provide high-quality vintage items with great photos, so you can see what the item looks like really well. They also describe their items honestly and accurately and provide excellent customer service. It’s more like shopping in a curated vintage boutique than digging through piles at the Goodwill outlet, and the prices are still reasonable because the sellers don’t have to deal with the extra costs of renting a store front.
E: Any current projects you’re working on?
P: There’s many projects we’re working on! We just launched a collection of archival Cadoro pieces in collaboration with The Greedy Seagull. These pieces are highly collectible and very rare, so we’re proud to be hosting them on our site. We’re also revamping the whole site, so stay tuned for our new face-lift - and relaunching curated themed collections with The Vintage Coalition, an invite-only group of the best vintage sellers on the web.
E: Do you have any helpful hints for those new to thrifting and buying vintage?
P: Start with accessories if you’re really new. It’s a lot easier to add a necklace or a clutch to an outfit and get warmed up to all the compliments! Also, make friends with your tailor. You can turn a good piece into a show-stopper with a few minor, inexpensive alterations. Hemming, for example, is an easy way to make a vintage dress look more modern. Just make sure you don’t hack off a huge chunk off a 40s designer dress!