Many of you have asked for an update on our local store. We thought it might be a fun idea to tell the whole story from the very beginning, since a lot of you may not have been following us five years ago when we started blogging this journey.
We recently made the difficult decision to close our local store. We are researching options and will likely be holding an estate sale later this summer to sell our remaining inventory. I realize this may sound like very sad news. But once you read this, I think you'll understand why it's the smartest choice for us right now. Owning our two local stores created some of our happiest memories. Even though retail isn't our dream for the future, it's a super special part of our past. I hope you enjoy our story! November 2008: I announced that we were planning to open our first local store and website!
I had recently started dating Jeremy (awwww!), so, when I look back on this season, I remember it as being one of the first big career developments we experienced together. We leased a building where I lived upstairs, and downstairs we set up his studio in the back room and my (teeny tiny) first local shop in the front room. In February of 2009: Filming a segment for our local news with Rachel the day before we opened. Major butterflies!
In 2009, our first store location opened, along with our first website. We sold lots of handmade things and paintings, along with small runs of t-shirts and accessories. It was an exciting time! The store was open six days a week, and I worked there 4-5 days each week by myself for the first year. At nights I would stay up late making paintings and accessories to sell on our website. We were barely making ends meet. It was hard, exhausting but so fulfilling and special. 2010: We shot these photos in an abandoned elementary school building.
In 2010 we were falling hard for vintage style and clothing. We started experimenting with some fashion photo shoots. I started reworking vintage clothing for our online shop and dreaming about selling clothing locally.
In the summer of 2010 we had a chance to buy a large, fully stocked vintage business from a woman who was ready to retire (she was selling her vintage inventory and handing over the lease on the building). We jumped on this opportunity, even though it was a huge risk! 2010 was one of the happiest years of my whole life. After living in LA for three years, Didier decided to move home and become my business partner. We spent a month planning on the phone every day, and then I drove to LA and helped her move home. October 2010: Celebrating the opening of our second location with our family. We opened our doors after three months of rennovating our new location!
In October 2010, Didier and I opened the new location for Red Velvet, selling vintage, with an extra fun addition, a cupcake and bubble tea shop that she created in the store! Planning the menu and testing recipes was incredibly exciting.
In the months after we opened, Didier talked to me about feeling kinda "stuck" in her new venture. Developing the recipes and fixing up the shop had been so much fun, but the daily routine of making the same cupcakes over and over again wasn't inspiring her. It was around that time I invited Didier to share some of her recipes here on SpG, and the idea of writing this blog together started to develop. 🙂Our first year at the new location was amazing! After it opened, we worked together 5-6 days each week for about a year. We had so much time to plan, to dream and to work on the blog. It was during that time we really started to envision what we wanted this blog to become. We posted more often (almost 3 times as much), started sharing DIYs and tutorials, and even hired our first shop girl (Kinsey!) allowing us to devote more time to the blog. Because of this, our readership started to grow… by 400% in a single year! In 2011 we experimented more with product development releasing our first dress collection. It was an amazing experience from both a creative and business standpoint. After our first collection, we realized we wanted to continue designing fashion and products. Another passion was born! In late 2011 we met our now literary agent, Lindsay. We had been talking to a publisher about a possible book deal around the same time. One day, while we were working in the shop, we got a call from our agent that we had our first book deal offer. There were tears… lots of happy tears. We had been dreaming of authoring a book together one day, but we had no idea this dream would happen so soon!
Over the next few months we rented a temporary studio for photographing our first book. We were working less and less in the local store, hiring more shop girls to fill in the gaps. Over the course of the year in 2012, we started thinking maybe retail wouldn't fit into our big picture dream for the future. At first we were in denial. I would get very emotional when we talked about selling the vintage business. We put off making a decision. But even after the first book was turned in nothing changed. We still couldn't make enough time to give the store the proper care it deserved. Finally, we admitted to ourselves it wasn't just working on books that kept us from pouring into the store. We realized our dream had evolved to creating and sharing content, and it required more of our attention to do it right.2012 was a blur… a big, exciting, wonderful blur. We worked on two books, an app, multiple product designs and some really awesome campaigns on this blog. We started forming new dreams and a new five-year plan. Didier is the best partner in the world, and dreaming big together has been so amazing for our relationship, both business and personal.
We talked about selling the business and even showed it to a couple prospective buyers. We were taking our time and trying to find the perfect fit. But more recently the building's owner decided their family would prefer to sell the building, rather than continue leasing it. So we are planning to hold an estate auction later this summer to sell the remainder of our inventory, which is still thousands of items (we have a fully stocked second floor too). At this point, we are no longer sad to see the store go. We've accepted that in life we simply cannot do everything, and we want to put 100% of our energy into writing this blog, our books and doing collaborations. We will always be grateful for the opportunity to open our local stores and the sweet shoppe. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we are so proud of! One of the things we will miss most about our local shop is how we have gotten to meet so many of you there! Over the past couple of years, hundreds of sweet blog readers have stopped into the shop to say hello. We hope to find other opportunities in the future to connect with some of you again in person. We have already booked one opportunity this summer (we'll announce more about this soon!) and we hope to find or create other opportunities in the future. :) Thanks so much for reading and being a part of our story! xo. Helen (and Didier)
Photography credits: Janae Hardy, Alec Vanderboom and Float Away Studios
P.S. In case you're curious, we will definitely share more information with you about our local store estate sale in case you own a small vintage business and are looking to stock up on inventory, or are just a vintage enthusiast who lives nearby. Once we have a date set we'll be sure to share it with all of you.