I have finally returned from my travels around Middle Earth! It was an absolutely amazing trip and I’m brimming over with the things we saw and the places we visited. As fun as traveling is though, it’s always nice to come home and see our furry dudes and hug the entirety of my closet like an old friend. It’s also nice to get back to a regular blogging schedule again, which I was surprised by how much I missed.
As such, I thought there was no better way to kick off my return than with an incredible collaboration that I am so excited to be a part of – because it involves vintage AND giving something back to the greater good. As I’m sure is the case for many of us, we all want to give to the less fortunate but aren’t always sure how and worry that our small contributions can’t make a difference. This is why I was so inspired when I met Mikala, the founder and owner of GreaterGoodsVintage through Instagram and instantly fell in love with her tenacity, vintage selection and, most importantly, the mission behind her vintage shop, which is to use her store as a platform to raise money and awareness for charities around the globe.
When this mint green Vicky Vaughn beauty appeared on my doorstep straight out of the 1950’s and into my arms, with her piping, pearlized buttons, and curved skirt panels, I was ecstatic to take part in something that went beyond just embracing sustainable clothing and a love for things from the past. GreaterGoods truly lives up to it’s name – 10% of every sale through her Etsy shop goes to charity (always a non-religious, non-government affiliated group). Mikala also switches every few months to a different group, after ensuring they have traceable success ratings. I was truly inspired by her heartfelt passion for taking action and providing an opportunity to her customers to become part of the solution, with the forward thinking goal of relaying a taste of giving back, so that we might then feel inspired to continue to take those small steps (thus leading to bigger and bigger steps and ultimately changing the world). Trust me, five minutes interacting with this lovely woman and you will fall in love with her commitment to doing good just as quickly as you will fall in love with her gorgeously curated collection of vintage.
All too often I think we can get wrapped up a bit in our own lives (I know I’m certainly guilty of this). And though the desire to do good is always there, we often don’t spent a lot of time looking for opportunities to contribute to important causes unless they hit us square on the nose. This is why I loved working together with Mikala – who reminded me of the million small ways I can make a difference in the world, and who brings this opportunity to her customers daily. She spends her days on the hunt for the next great vintage dress with just as much fervor as she spends looking for the next important cause to support.
After hearing about the shop mission, I really wanted to get to know this amazing woman and get the nitty gritty on her source of inspiration and how her shop came to be:
Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you stumbled into curating and running a vintage shop? Where are you based?
Mikala: “Well, stumbled is certainly an appropriate word for how I got started selling vintage. There is no short answer so I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version.
Chapter 1. I have always loved vintage styles and watched old black and white movies swooning over the costumes of the 30’s 40’s and 50’s. I’m in Philly now, but when I was living in NYC, living expenses and the price of vintage clothing put the glorious pieces I did find it way out of my budget. In constant rummaging through local Philadelphia thrift stores (which were really my go to for everything from furniture to pots and pans), I noticed that the vintage was far more plentiful and more accessible than anywhere else I had lived. As much as I wanted to buy every 50’s dress I saw, let’s just say that my early thrifting habit began out of financial necessity before it evolved into a hobby! So, no real clothing budget at the time and definitely no place to wear anything styled over a crinoline. Instead, I’d just ooh and ah and whisper tearful goodbyes to the racks of gorgeous fit and flare dresses and full skirts that I’d happen upon.”
“Chapter 2: N*Sync was never on my radar as a kid (this ties in I swear), excepting the occasional lip sync sessions with my best friend. But, I stumbled on a small guitar amidst a veritable shrine of boy band fan club paraphernalia that had been signed by the members of this iconic group of Y2K heartthrobs in a thrift shop somewhere. I bought it. Not for the signatures, but because I had been looking for a travel guitar (I’m on the travel-size side myself.) I brought it home, and upon closer inspection I realized that the whole body was pretty much Scotch taped together. Don’t ask how I didn’t notice in the store. I knew this would be an embarrassing, “honey look what I found moment” when I brought it in to show my husband who has been playing and repairing guitars for years. So I decided to list it on eBay. I saw similar signed paraphernalia going for 1000’s of dollars (or at least listed for that.) I listed and sold the guitar for $75. But! I still made a profit. That’s when I got the bug! This was around Christmas time and I had just scored bags and bags of vintage ornaments. I got a little carried away. In fact, in my wild excitement, I sold an ornament that I had already gifted to my sister-in-law. She forgave me, but people started to hold onto their stuff a little tighter around me.
Chapter 3: In the midst of the short eBay spree (staying up till all hours of the night concocting business plans that could have used for the plot of several episodes of I Love Lucy), I had a flash! I made up my mind to sell vintage for a cause! I’ve always loved brands that raise money and awareness for different causes. Wearing a pair of TOMS for example is like a carrying a flag that says, “Let’s change the world and look great!” It’s empowering and creates a street style that encourages people to be more conscientious. From the muddled mix of ideas to save the world and no longer have to issue tearful goodbyes to beautiful vintage came GreaterGoodsVintage.
That’s the story and the rest is continuing to unfold every day.”
Q: I love the mission behind your shop! Can you tell me a little bit more about your passion for combining vintage and charity work?
Mikala: “As I said, I like when a brand has a “higher purpose.” And I have never been happy in any job that did not have a specifically positive global impact. Through my late teens and early twenties, when asked what I wanted to do with my life, my answer was always “Philanthropy.” I want to support people who are using their skills and talents to be the change they wished to see and I wanted to do it full time. I spent a few years working for non-profits on the fundraising side of things and learned quickly that donating to charity is a touchy subject with many people. My interactions with potential donors were often met with cynicism about the effectiveness of any organization due to the highly publicized scandals of a few. But for as many ineffective or stagnant charities out there, there are just as many kicking butt beyond belief! For instance, I’m working with an organization called, “Friendship Bridge” right now. This amazing group is using the money they receive to provide small business loans and trade/business education to women in Guatamala as a sustainable solution to the poverty in that region. The impact is huge. Empowering marginalized women with the education and tools to support their families puts the breaks on the poverty cycle in one generation! Not to mention that the loans (which have an impressive pay-back rate) basically allow the organization to recycle the donations they receive. By bringing attention to resourceful and innovative non-profits, I hope to help connect my customers to the idea that donating money wisely is one of the most powerful things we can do to create a lasting, positive change.”
Q: What’s your process for sourcing vintage? Do you have a love for a particular era?
Mikala: “Early to Mid Century all the way. I’m always drawn to pieces from the 20’s through the early 60’s. Something about the elegance of each individual style trend from those specific decades… as if the new century brought with it a deeper sense of personal style. I think that a combination of film and music greatly influenced clothing and that people began using their fashion choices as an expression of their personalities.
As far as sourcing. I’m still learning my tactic. I buy what I like. I believe that we are in a great age for entrepreneurs. For the first time ever, anyone can shop anywhere! The internet is like a never ending shopping mall. I’ve never been the girl who wanted designer labels unless the item itself was to die for. I want my shop to be filled with my idea of beauty. My favorite pieces are almost always the juniors dresses from the 50’s and 60’s, much like that Vicky Vaughn you’ve got on in them there photos.”
Q: What was your best ever vintage fashion find? Did you sell it or keep it?
Mikala: “Hah! Well that’s hard. I can’t pick an all time favorite (although the one in the pictures is definitely one of them.) I did find a “crazy quilt” skirt that was made up of remnants of silk from old gowns all stitched together in a falling log pattern. Looking closely at all the different patterns and colors of silk squares I realized that some of these pieces were very, very old. While the skirt looks like it was made in the late 40’s – early 50’s and possibly not finished until the 60’s (it has this adorbs pom-pom tassel hem line that seems to be a bit newer than the other pieces in the skirt) some of the silk scraps look like remnants of dresses as old as mid-late 1800s. I have sat and stared at this skirt for ages. The sheer idea that it likely took someone at least a decade to make it, plus the idea of one piece of clothing made from the clothing of generations of women is in itself an incredible concept. It’s not just a skirt and not just a work of art, but it’s a literal stitching together of the lives and stories of many women during some particularly poignant times in women’s history. Anyway. It’s still in the shop. But I have thought about donating it to an art museum or a women’s history exhibit somewhere.”
Mikala’s idea of filling the world with beautiful vintage and beautiful vibes in equal measure is an incredible mission to undertake and reminds me that every little bit helps. It also got me thinking about causes I feel personally passionate – one of which is The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which is the largest civil rights organization working towards equality regardless of sexual orientation. The HRC focuses on the policies, issues and practices that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It is a hugely respected foundation that was established in 1986 and has been supporting LGBT individuals and their families and support systems through through innovative outreach, education, advocacy and research.
Mr. Dressed Aesthetic and I set up a fund through our wedding registry to support them back in 2010 – we were so overjoyed by our upcoming wedding, but also recognized that, at that time, not everyone had been afforded the freedom to do so. We were able to raise a modest amount of money through our registry and we continue to support the organization to this day. Given the recent Supreme Court ruling, I can only hope that the work of organizations like the HRC contributed to building advocacy for marriage equality and that we may have helped in a small way towards helping them achieve that goal.
I have aways felt that one of the most compelling things about vintage clothing is that it tells a story. Now, not only does this amazing dress tell a story, but she’ll have a bit of a legacy too, by doing good for the world going forward. It’s kind of an amazing “Pay It Forward” sort of thought – if every dress we buy, every purchase we made somehow contributed in some small way to helping someone else, then eventually everything in our wardrobes would be stitched with good karma and cloaked in betterment. Though perhaps a rosy few of the future, I kind of like believing that it’s possible…
To keep the good vibes going, GreaterGoodsVintage is offering an exclusive giveaway to readers of The Dressed Aesthetic, open internationally, designed with the idea of both giving and receiving in mind. Mikala is offering a shop credit of $100.00 USD, good towards anything in her Etsy shop (see Terms & Conditions Below). But, this vintage giveaway comes with a twist – we’d like to know what you would like to see YOUR style stand for by detailing a cause or organization you feel strongly about.
To enter – be sure to be following both GreaterGoodsVintage (@greatergoodsvintage) and The Dressed Aesthetic (@dressedapp) on Instagram. Then, in the section below, comment with a cause that matters to you and why. This can be a specific organization or a general issue: i.e. Greenpeace or saving the whales – anything that is particularly important to you. The contest will run for 1 month and will end at midnight on 20 August Eastern Standard Time. The winner will receive 100.00 shop credit and their nominated cause or organization will receive the donated proceeds from September’s GreaterGoods Sales! It’s an amazing way to pitch why a cause you feel passionate about deserves a bit of attention – and be rewarded with beautiful vintage.
Can’t wait for the gift card? You can also check out GreaterGoodsVintage on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their website and be sure to spend a few hours getting lost on Mikala’s stunning Etsy shop. I know I will…
I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorite causes – let’s get involved!
***POST UPDATE: Giveaway has now CLOSED. Thank you to all entrants – winner has been announced here!***
Dress: c/o Greater Goods Vintage (similar here, here & here)
Bolero: H&M (similar here, here & here)
Brooch: Green Accordion
Belt: Alannah Hill (similar here, here & here)
Bag: Betsey Johnson via Modcloth (similar here, here & here)
Shoes: Irregular Choice (similar here & here)
Giveaway Terms and Conditions: Winner will be notified at the end of August. $100 gift card is good towards anything in the GreaterGoodsVintage shop. Must be used in a single purchase. Does not cover customs fees, etc for international purchases. Must be following both GGV and TDA on Instagram to win. Entries only count if they are in the comments section of this blog post. Be sure you leave your email address so we can contact you if you are the lucky winner!