Q&A: Becky Helms of The Pink Samurai

Q: Tell us briefly a little about yourself. What are your interests or your hobbies?

A: I’m a cat lady, a crafter and total nerd.  I live in Austin, TX with Andy, my husband, and our two cats Turks and Sprinkles.  I love drawing, crochet, embroidery and collection super cute stuff.TV-Star

Q: Describe your style in three words or less.

A: Bright, colorful, happy

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Q: On your blog, The Pink Samurai, you feature a different vintage shop for thrifty treasures from the Austin area. What was the inspiration behind this?

A: I grew up thrifting and antiquing with my mom. When I was living on the East Coast I made this giant google doc spreadsheet of all the shops I’d visited and wanted to visit. I started sharing it out with friends and thought more folks besides us might like to see the shops, too. So I started putting them on the blog!

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A cowgirl's paradise!!!! Look at all of these boots!!!

A cowgirl’s paradise!!!! Look at all of these boots!!!

Q: Do you have a favorite place to find your unique antique treasures in the Austin, TX area? What’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled for vintage finds?

A: Rave On Vintage is definitely my favorite spot in Austin because they specialize in mid-century goodness. They’ve always got the best stuff!  And I think the furthest I’ve ever traveled was around 3 hours. Andy and I went to The Factory Antique Mall in Verona, VA. I’d heard about it from Jenny Mitchell, one of my favorite vintage bloggers and just had to go! It was a gorgeous trip through the mountains of Virginia and turned into a really fun day-trip.

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Q: Your handmade scarves are gorgeous! What was the inspiration behind your Etsy shop, The Pink Samurai?

A: Thank you! The Pink Samurai has worn many hats since opening. I used to sew purses, and design buttons, but after teaching myself to crochet, I decided to take the leap and started selling them. Through all my different offerings, The Pink Samurai has always been a place for bright colors and silliness. I try to bring those elements in with my color palettes and branding.

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Q: You’ve had your Etsy shop since 2006…how have you seen the Etsy community evolve since then? What are some of the trends you see on Etsy?

A: Etsy has changed quite a bit since I first started. But, so has the internet as a whole. I’ve seen the forum switch from being a promotional tool to more of a team setting and there’s a lot more knock-off shops on Etsy then there were in 2006, that’s for sure. With the evolution of twitter, instagram and pinterest, I don’t really spend as much time networking through Etsy anymore. As for trends, I’m seeing a lot of geometric prints and simplified color-blocking in handmade right now. There’s also a lot of really cool laser cut wood designs that are popping up now.

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Q: What are the advantages of shopping on Etsy vs. Ebay for vintage finds?

A: That’s a great question! I think you’ll probably pay a little bit more on Etsy for some vintage finds, but it’s a much better experience. You’re working with a seller who specializes in vintage and curates their shop very carefully. Ebay can be hit-or-miss. If you’re looking for something specific, I would check both. But if you’re just browsing for a hidden treasure, Etsy is the way to go.

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Q: Besides crocheting beautiful scarves, you also create the loveliest illustrations. I read on your blog that you hosted a “crafternoon” at your house…could you share with my readers what that is?

A:  Crafternoon was a really fun event that I hosted to get some crafty locals together to make stuff and swap supplies. I had special embroidery patterns we all worked on and we traded supplies and had a great time visiting and talking about making stuff. It  was so fun and I’m hoping to do another in the summer!

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Special thanks to Becky Helms for taking the time to do this interview! Be sure to check out her blog, The Pink Samurai.

Copyright 2014. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Q&A: Kath Parker of Machine Dance Vintage

Q: Tell us briefly a little about yourself. What are your interests or your hobbies?

A: I am a pink haired, native Virginian with an absolute love for history, film and treasure hunting. I live with my two Boston Terriers, Wednesday and Pugsley. You can often find us elbow deep in dirt, meandering through the woods, and uncovering some sort of treasure with the trusty ole metal detector.

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Q: Describe your style in three words or less.

A: Bubblegum and Glamour

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Q: What is the story behind Machine Dance Vintage?

A: “Machine Dance” started out as my pseudonym over 10 years ago. I started out as a photographer and found, at that time, using a fictitious name served me better than using my real name. In 1931, Margaret Bourke White, photographed the Moscow Ballet School. All of the dancers had very machine-like qualities, prompting White to title her images “Machine Dance.” Having been recognized for so long with this name, I decided to use it for my vintage shop as well. Machinedance Vintage got started a little over three years ago the way many vintage shops get started. I looked at my closet one day and decided it was time to start parting with some of my old clothes. And then it hit me, an epiphany, I was finding so much joy in sending off my once cherished clothes to new homes that it became all I wanted to do. That’s when I started spending every free moment I had hunting for treasure and sharing it with others. Now, over three years later, vintage has turned into something so much more. A lifestyle, a way to connect with others, a way to preserve fashion history and to reuse and recycle.

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Q: Do you have a favorite place to find your one of a kind vintage clothing items?

A: The most thrilling part of the process is ‘the hunt’ and ‘the dig.’ I love getting dirty and finding less than perfect items to try to bring back to life. I love when a house has been in a family for generations and that family has not been in the basement or attic for years. Whether they’re too scared or just don’t have the time to clean it out, I am always more than happy to lend a helping hand. Attics always tend to be the best places to find the really good items.

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Q: You currently have not one but two gorgeous cotton walking suits from the 1910’s in your Etsy shop. Where did you find these amazing items in such perfect condition!

A: I travel far and wide to find items for my shop. Although, I don’t want to give away too many of my secrets, I will say these two beauties were found in an extremely old town, about two hours from Richmond, where families tend to maintain the same homes for generations. When you hunt in these less “transient” towns, finding older more unique items is much more likely!

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Q: How do you feel about retro inspired clothing companies such as Mod Cloth?

A: I absolutely adore them! I think companies such as Mod Cloth really make the style more accessible for many. Although, more and more, I really pay attention to the quality of my clothing. I tend to shy away from clothing made in places like China and encourage others to do the same. I really appreciate many of the vintage inspired companies popping up that are manufacturing great quality goods in the USA.

Q: If someone was just starting to get interested in vintage clothing, what are the top 5 pieces their wardrobe should include?

  • Day to evening dress – There is no need to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a single dress for every occasion. Instead, look to buy a dress that can work as a day dress and a cocktail dress. Finding clothing that can serve more than one purpose will save you money, time and space!

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  • The perfect scarf – A single scarf can do wonders for an outfit or hairdo. There are so many ways to incorporate a scarf into your hairstyle and many of them will give you an instant vintage look. You can also tie a scarf around the neck or waist to spruce up a look.
  • A good red nail polish and lipstick – Just like with the scarf, red lips or nails can give you can instant vintage look. Reds were the most popular lip, cheek and nail colors during the 1930s and 40s and really stand out.
  • Seamed stockings – Again, a great and inexpensive way to add quick and easy vintage flare to any outfit.
  • Beret/Hat – Many men and women feel awkward about wearing hats these days. My recommendation is to ease yourself into it by picking up a Beret. Hats will turn out to be your best friend if you decide to experiment with vintage hair styles or simply do not have time to fix your hair. Once you become accustomed to hats, you’ll find it’s hard to leave the house without one!

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Q: I often see vintage clothing for sale at flea markets and estate sales. Is there an advantage to buying these items at such places? And if so, what are some tips that someone should look for?

A: It so happens I work for an estate sale company out of Fredericksburg, VA called Liberty Park Estate Sales! I have been working for them about as long as my shop has been open so I guess you could say I have the inside scoop on Estate Sales! I think Estate Sales and Flea Markets are wonderful places to buy vintage. Many Estate Sale companies work with their client in mind. They have a timeline in which they need to clear out a home so they often price things to sell. Because I am a dealer, if I find a really great sale, on the first day I arrive early and stand in line in order to have first pick. However, this can be an extremely stressful experience but there are still great things to purchase after the first sale day. Estate Sales companies also typically don’t offer discounts on the first day (and I wouldn’t recommend haggling for a deal on the first day either.) Usually on the second and third days they will offer 25-50% off and polite haggling is also an option!

Early 1930s Wool dress found at a Flea Market in New Hampshire.

Early 1930s Wool dress found at a Flea Market in New Hampshire.

Special thanks to Kath Parker for sharing her awesome vintage clothing with us! Be sure to check out Machine Dance Vintage online.

Copyright 2014. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.