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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

Okay, I'm a simple girl. Sure, I like me some pretty and sparkly jewels but I'm not Elizabeth Taylor. Geometric shapes and outlines are seen in decor and fashion for a couple seasons now. I'm the type of person who teeters between styles and find myself loving the urban and edgy look but going back to vintage girly girl with a modern twist styles. But what I love about this trend is that it's taking something that usually looks extravagant and makes it modern and simple.

I stumbled across a couple of items that caught my eye that fall within the lines of the geometric outline trend. This a great cushion by graphic designer, Leonora, of Yellow Heart Art. I'm a big fan of her stuff, so check her out! The diamond cushions are terrific.
I'd love to have a large one and several mini ones sitting in a little corner of my home, scattered and spilled out on the floor.

I'm really liking these charms by Geometric Land.  Even though it's an outline of a diamond, the brass takes the preciousness and prissiness away from it.

Diamond Charms - by Geometric Land

The settee and console table designed by American Designer, Darrell Landrum, in the late 40's to 50's has lines that remind me of the geometric setting of a diamond. 

Check out the fun and whimsical store decor of Hansel, a Singaporean womens wear label and their usuage of paper art:

Of course, if someone were to give me the real thing, I wouldn't reject it.  Even it it's the dreaded Marquis/ Pear shaped diamond:

Monday, March 12, 2012

DIY - Space Invader Pillow

It's been a while since I've posted a DIY. Here's something I did back in October. I made this duvet cover and pillow set for a video game enthusiast as a birthday present.
Here's a simple way* to create the a space invader decal but you can use this method to add any simple silhouette. 

What you'll need:
  1. Find a picture of the character that you would like to put on your cushion.
  2. Take a look at the interfacing.  One side will have the "wax" the other side will have the "glue".  Put the paper print out on top of the wax side of the interfacing and put the fabric underneath the interfacing so it touches the glue.
  3. Carefully pin the three pieces together but make sure the pins are neat and straight - no puckering.
  4. With a sharp pair of scissors, carefully cut the pattern out.  If there is a hole in the pattern (i.e. an eye) cutting an "X" makes it easier to cut it out neatly.
  5. So now you have the design in front of you - keep those pins in there.  Get that iron ready.
  6. Flip the pieces over so the fabric is facing you.  Iron just at the top so that the interfacing is stuck to the fabric.  Now that everything is secure, take out the pins.
  7. Straighten everything out and continue to iron.
  8. Wait about 10 - 30 seconds, or until the fabric and interfacing is cool.  
  9. Now flip it over to the paper side - peel off the paper
  10. Now if you already have a cushion cover or if you are making your cushion from scratch, you can now take the decal and pin it on the cushion.
  11. Make sure you're happy where you've pinned it because once you activate that iron, it's set.
  12. Run the iron over the decal and the cushion - and you're done.
  13. I put the decal under the sewing machine using the zig-zag setting and secured the design against the cushion.
  14. Repeat the same instructions using the opposite color if you want to have two different sides for your pillow. 
*If you only want a black silhouette, you can just get black interfacing with the adhesive on one side, cut out the pattern and "viola", you're done!  Even easier!

Here's a couple other pillows I've made using this same technique:

You May Also be Interested in:
DIY - Headboard
DIY - Reupholstered Chairs
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

News Flash - C'est La Vie Consignment Boutique

So what is consignment?  You bring your unwanted but fashionable clothing to the store and the consignee will go through your items and choose what they feel will be appropriate for their customer.  The store staff will price the items and sell them in their store and you split the profits.

I've been consigning with C'est La Vie Consignment Boutique for years and have developed a friendship with boutique owner, Faustine Faure.  I'm such a frequent customer that she knows my consignment number by heart.  Her store is a mix of vintage items and more contemporary pieces that you would see in H&M, Aritzia, and Club Monaco. 

Here's a great example of mixing vintage and modern pieces.  This look would probably cost at least $500 brand new.  But the tank top is by a local designer and was priced at $25.  I was just crazy about this skirt but it was too small for me and it pained me to know that I had to pass up the great deal.  This skirt is only $25!  I threw in some pretty accessories to complete this spring look.  The green 80's style belt was only $14 and the vintage patent leather heels are $30.  A complete head to toe look for under $100. 

The second look is something I bought a couple of years ago.  I got the red H&M polo for $7 and the 80's linen skirt was about $25.

So here's an example of my recent experience with consignment.  I popped by C'est La Vie and checked my account and I had $30 to pick up.  The beautiful poncho was only $45 dollars and since I do consignment with C'est La Vie I get an additional 10% off.  So this poncho cost me $10!  Love it!

Faustine and I sat down together to chat and chow down on dim sum.  I picked her brain about vintage, fashion eras, and the consignment business.

Tell me about C'est La Vie Consignment boutique:
People always think that C'est La Vie only sells vintage but it’s a mixture of both old and new.  But I do love the quality and uniqueness of vintage.  For the price that you pay for vintage you can wear something that inspires the top designers like Louis Vuitton.  I really do try to keep my store affordable.  I have some designer jeans that sell for $250 dollars if they are brand new and I price them at about $30 - $50.  I know that it's tough for the people who bring them in but I have to be priced well so people can afford them and they understand that.
Some new and contemporary looks:  1.  Talula Babaton suit (2 pc) - $50  2. Talula Babaton dress - $40  3.  Costume Nationale jacket - $45
How did C’est La Vie get started?
Luscious mink, rich leather gloves, and the most fabulous hat

I was always doing it in France and worked in vintage shops.  When I came to Vancouver I discovered this different type of consignment.  In France consignment shops are more conservative and less fun.  So when I saw the consignment stores in Vancouver I fell in love; it’s very different.  But I was only a consignor and brought my clothes in for the store to sell and I only wanted to do it as a hobby.
Then my daughter was born and I took a break for 3 years.  My mom was the one who pushed me to open my own store.  I had saved some money so I didn’t have to work and focused on raising my daughter.  Then I looked and saw that still I had 10K and I got a loan on top of that.  I chose Main Street even though there were already so many stores. 
I’ve been thinking about opening a second store and Gastown has been appealing.   I love the old style with the bricks.  I’ve often thought about going to Toronto or France.
What’s your favourite era?
Well, I really like mixing things from different eras and different styles so I don’t have a favourite period.  But I love certain things from each.  I love the fabrics from the 40's and the shape of the jackets; the curves just have a beautiful way of accentuating the body.  But I love the 70’s hippie flow and I love things like platform shoes.  From the 60’s, I really get into the tougher looks with the belts and motorcycle style.

So your boutique is bright and pink with a late 60’s to 70’s vibe.  Does your home have a similar look?
Yes, I think so.  My home decor is very 70’s and the walls are bright orange with accents of green.  At the time I started the shop, I really liked pink and orange together.  It’s funny because pink isn’t even my favourite colour.  But the colours popped into my head and I just stuck to that idea and went with it.  I think it’s fresh, bubbly, and it reminds me of the colours that you see in the clothing from India.
I see some fashion icons on C’est La Vie’s walls such as Jerry Hall and Twiggy.  Who has influenced you?
I grew up in fashion because my mom was a fashion designer and I was always around it.  I went to runway shows and flea markets at such a young age.  I was always reading fashion magazines.  My mother was a designer for many different brands.  It has been so important in influencing and inspiring my fashion and style background.
It's always a pleasure to learn about what drives people and what their passions are.  For Faustine, it's fashion and mixing different styles of clothing together from different eras and create a look that's unique and personal.
You can also find pieces from C'est La Vie at local vintage clothing sale events such as The Chosen Ones that is held at the Waldorf Hotel and The Beggar's Banquet (blog post in the future!) in Gastown.

Here's a couple of my favourite pieces that I've bought over the years from C'est La Vie:
1.  Two piece vintage wool dress with cropped jacket - $50   2.  Talula Babaton silk dress - $35 (regular over $150)  3.  Vintage wool crepe dress - $35
Take a stroll into C'est La Vie to see what surprises they have waiting for you.  They're located in the trendy Main Street neighborhood.

Open 7 days a week 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
3247 Main St.
Vancouver, BC
Consignment terms and conditions

You might also be interested in:
Laura of "On the Racks"
Roselle and Fabulous Neil from Filmgo