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I recently started a series called "In the Know" where I interview Canadian experts in fashion, beauty, art and design. My first interview featured Preloved founder and the "accidental environmentalist" Jules Grieve. I also interviewed the co-founder of ChickAdvisor and a Canadian icon, Ali de Bold, who shared her path to starting a company and the latest beauty tips.
Today you're in for a treat! I had the opportunity to interview Autumn, a store owner of one of my favourite boutiques called Tall Birches. Her store features a curated selection of beautiful vintage clothing, candles and handmade charcuterie boards from her family's farm. I was interested to learn how Autumn selects vintage clothes to create a signature Tall Birches style.
The Silver Fashionista: The first thing I'd especially like to know is what inspired you to open Tall Birches.
Autumn: I started my business because I went through a change in my life where I was living in Toronto and lost someone very special to me. It was because I lost that person that I decided to start doing what I always wanted to do and not what I had to do. You've got to take risks especially when you realize that life is very short.
The Silver Fashionista: I love the name of your store, Tall Birches! Where did that name come from?
Autumn: The name definitely has a close meaning to me. It has to do with why I started my business. Tall Birches is the name of the family farm that we have. It belonged to my grandparents in the 70s and then my parents took it over. I'll be next to take it over after that. It's called Tall Birches because there's a lot of birch trees on the property. That's where I went home after a couple of changes in my life and I found my new normal. That's where I started my business.
The Silver Fashionista: Something I've always wondered about is how the process of getting inventory in a store works. How do you decide what you'd like to sell, and how does it happen?
Autumn: There are a few different processes, like the one for vintage clothing. Every business has a different approach. What I do is called curated and handpicked. I am creating a collection personally and handpick everything myself. I go to warehouses that offer vintage clothing strictly for businesses. I spend about 4-6 hours shopping for clothes and then I come home, clean them and research them.
The Silver Fashionista: I never would've thought you'd have to research the clothing!
Autumn: You always want to do research and understand. It helps to price the clothing affordably. The clothes are just one thing I sell at my store. The wood goods we make in house, which means at the farm.
The Silver Fashionista: Have you always liked vintage or thrifted clothing?
Autumn: I'd say it's very popular right now, but I think it's different with different generations. Most of my customers are young girls age 20-30. I have always enjoyed shopping vintage. I went to Kensington Market when I was 15 and it opened me up to the whole vintage scene.
The Silver Fashionista: I love Kensington Market! I just started my small business. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs or people who are looking to open up a store?
Autumn: My #1 advice that I've given is that you have to have a physical business plan. You can't start any kind of business without a concrete plan ready to go. Some people really fight it, but you need to write it down, understand it, and then start it. You need to consider everything.
The Silver Fashionista: That's great advice! This is the final question: how would you describe your personal style?
Autumn: In one word, a maximalist. That doesn't necessarily mean I like a lot of stuff; it means I like a lot of colour and texture. My style is vintage meets modern. I like looser-fitting clothing, patterns, interesting details; anything that says who I am.
The Silver Fashionista: Would you wear most of the clothing you sell?
Autumn: Definitely! That's exactly why I use the words "curated" and "hand-picked" because I'm picking pieces that I personally connect with and want other people to have.
Thank you so much Autumn for the interview! Make sure to visit her store Tall Birches the next time you're in the area. She also has an amazing Instagram that you'll definitely want to see! Follow her @tallbirches and thanks for reading!
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