Thursday, March 29, 2012

News Flash: Front and Company

Front and Company was the first place that I came to consign my clothing, even though I had been shopping at thrift stores for quite some time.  What drew me in was the window displays and how innovated they were in creating a story.  Each year, the story becomes more elaborate and this is extended into the shop, itself.  It's like a emporium of creativity.

Photos Courtesy of Front and Company

I've always been curious about the thought process behind the window displays and the store interior.  Each season, there's a different theme that's just fantastical.  I had an opportunity to sit down with Sonia and Allie in their new studio to chat about what inspires them and how they work as a team.

1.  Tell me about your background and how you've been able to bring creativity to the store fronts and interior of Front and Company?
Sonia - I started at Front and Company 6 years ago.  I have a theater background but joined Front and Company because it looked like a great place to work so I started on the retail floor and then started assisting Diana, one of the owners, with merchandising.  Now I'm the lead in designing the window displays and coming up with the themes.  My first project was the Winter 2009 Christmas theme.

Photos Courtesy of Front and Company
2.  What is your process to create the whole look of the store?
Sonia - It's a team effort.  We're a group of creative people.  Two-thirds of us are either art school students/grads or musicians.  Each person has their own specialty.  Katrina is great at building things and Karen does great miniatures, which you'll see in the next store theme.  It's a lot of hard work but it's also a team building experience.  We're all committed to making the store look great and we all feel so proud when it's all done.

We get a lot of support from the owners.  They gave us a great budget so we don't scrimp on the materials.

3.  The Christmas 2011 theme was amazing.  How did you source all the materials?
Sonia - We have quite a few of the old items from other themes in the back of the shop and we use them if we can.  The large plastic clear globes are from a plastic company and it took a while to find them.  They were quite pricey.

The larger plastic fixtures are from a company in Gastown.  We often use clothing from Diana's collections as she has amazing pieces that you couldn't find anywhere.

4.  What's your favourite theme?
Sonia - The up and coming theme is my favourite but it's top secret.  It's one that I've been obsessed with for a while and I can't wait to complete it.

5.  How do the fashion trends influence the themes?
Allie - We consult together on what the trends are and I keep an eye on what's coming in.  We've got some people who are great at sewing and can put together some terrific things.

Sonia - Allie is meticulous when she sews - she can replicate something down to the littlest detail.

6.   How do you decide what items you will accept?
Allie - it really depends on the season and the trends.  We have three pickers and each of us have  different styles and we choose different things.  Sometimes we try something out to see if it will sell.  You just never know.  The three of us stay in touch with each other on what trends we're noticing and what people are bringing in.

Sonia - I find that there are so many opportunities to have interesting conversations with our consignors.  When someone brings items that are unsuitable for our store, it's a chance for us to educate them on what might work better.  Conservative wear doesn't sell well at Front and Company but we try to steer consignors in the right direction to the other places where they might take it.

7.  What do you think makes Front and Company unique?
Allie - We have amazing clothing and stock and that is in part of our great consignors who bring in a great mix of styles.  Our items are also reasonably priced.  I feel like our store is part of this special community and it's in the center of it.

Front and Company is very eclectic, both with the way the store looks, to the styles that we carry, the people who shop here, and the staff.  The trends that we carry lean towards girlie and contemporary.  We have a great mix of vintage and modern items.  There are some brands that are really popular, like Aritzia's brand, Wilfred.  But we have a mix of everything here and that's what people love about the store, that you can put together different items to create a unique look.

Our rummage sales, which take place four times a year, just keep getting bigger.  The items are discounted and dead stock of samples that we need to clear out and consignment items that didn't sell.  All the proceeds go to a charity that we've chosen.  We chose Doctor Without Borders as the charity to receive the proceeds from the last sale.

Sonia - The sales just keep getting bigger because the store has gotten busier.  We start out with this huge mountain of clothing.  I can tell how well we did because I always jump into the pile after we're done. 

I really encourage you to pop into Front and Company.  It's a unique experience and their innovative ideas keep the store looking fresh and fun.  Keep your eyes peeled for the newest happenings at Front and Company by checking out their website, their blog, which is run by Dan, and their Facebook page.

The next rummage sale is coming up on the Eastern Long Weekend.  I have to warn you, I'm the girl who is throwing elbows to get into that pile.  I get pretty ugly.

Front and Company
3772 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5V 3N7

You may also be interested in:
News Flash - C'est La Vie Consignment Boutique
News Flash - Laura aka Off The Racks

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