An Interview With Amber Lena Of Fashion Bargainista

blog shop outfits

In March at Ethical Fashion Bloggers we focussed on ways to monetise a fashion blog whilst sticking to our values and ethics. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Amber Lena of Fashion Bargainista who believes that you do not have to spend money to look good and has her own blog shop selling thrifted clothes and outfits that she has put together.

How did the idea for your blog shop come about?

I had been getting requests from friends to do some bargain shopping for them, and that of course evolved into putting together outfits for them as well. But the main catalyst was that a thrift store opened about 5 minutes from my house. Because I was already looking out for items that weren’t in my own size, I started finding items that I just couldn’t pass up. The blog shop was born!

Do you treat running your blog and shop as a part time or full time career or more of a sideline?

Definitely a sideline. I work full time and I have twin preschoolers. But, I’m compelled to put together outfits – its one of my favorite ways to unwind! I have a whole room in my house (the “guest” room!) devoted to it.

How do the overall goals of your blog and shop fit with your personal values and do you believe that profit and ethics can go hand in hand? 

I started FashionBargainista.com to share my love of bargain shopping. I think women pay way too much for beauty, whether that is clothing, jewelry or makeup so I love that I can share bargain shopping with my buyers. Profit and ethics can absolutely go hand in hand! When you are providing a service or a product that is affordable and valuable to people, it is only a matter of finding a price point that is comfortable for you. In my case, I treat this as more of a hobby so I can have “pin” money for my own shopping, so I sell my items with a small profit margin. I feel good contributing to the environmental movement by finding new life for pre-owned clothing.
Does making money from your blog take some of the fun out of it?

In general, I would have to say yes.  I have dabbled with “monetizing” my blog with affiliate marketing, ad words, etc. and the time required for SEO is exhausting and totally not worth it! But with the blog shop, its just the opposite! I’m making money doing something that I enjoy; blogging, thrifting and putting together outfits!

It is an interesting idea to sell outfits rather than single pieces of clothing, why did you decide to do this?

I have had a lot of women ask me how to put outfits together – what shirt to pair with a certain skirt or pants, etc. so I just started out matching pieces that I thought would go nicely together. I knew it would be a bit of a stretch because its difficult to find one item that fits, much less 2 or 3! But, in my adult life, I have been a size 8 and I have been a 16, so I know a bit about sizes and I try to put pieces together that are similar in fit – not just by the size on the tag. I have also worked with many different body types, so I try to vary the sizes (ie. smaller on top, larger on bottom or vice versa). And, I provide measurements of each item. I also tell buyers they can purchase just one piece of an outfit. Or, I’m happy to take returns.

How do you find such beautiful clothes second hand clothes?

Anyone that has ever thrifted knows that you have to dig. It just so happens that I love to do just that! However, pieces will sometimes just jump out at me! I like to think that I’ve developed a skill for finding good articles of clothing in a sea of not-so-good ones.

How do you maximise sales through your blog shop?

In addition to posting the outfits on my blog and tweeting, I also list them on other market place sites such as smashion.com, yardsellr.com and style.ly. Yardsellr and Style.ly are both linked with Facebook, so that gives me many more potential buyers! I also do some selling on ebay (not the outfits – I found they didn’t do well on ebay) and whenever I mail an article of clothing, I will throw a business card with my blog address on it into the envelope.

Do you have any more tips for others wanting to set up their own blog shop?

Above all, make it easy for potential buyers to purchase. They don’t want to have to email you and wait for an email back, etc. That’s how I started, and it was frustrating on both ends. Then I tried posting paypal buttons so they could just click and pay, but I spent so much time making sure they were correct that I gave up on that too. I paid to have a personalized blog shop on Big Cartel for awhile, but found that most of my sales came from the online market places. It seems that people are most comfortable buying via a bigger organization/website.

Many thanks to Amber Lena for such this useful insight and tips. You can catch up with her at www.fashionbargainista.com, www.taooftwins.com and @amberlenab on Twitter.

If you are a Fashion Blogger with a conscious and would like to join us at  Ethical Fashion Bloggers and be interviewed, please get in touch.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

 

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An Interview With Lady Cherry of Vintage Goddess In Training

For today’s Interview on Ethical Fashion Bloggers, I was lucky enough to be able to find out a little bit more about Lady Cherry and her love of vintage clothes and styles. Lady Cherry’s blog Vintage Goddess in Training is full of fabulous tips, ideas and inspiration including baking, sewing, hairstyles, beauty and shopping.

How would you describe your blog and why did you start writing it?
Vintage Goddess in Training is a personal journal about building my vintage lifestyle. Except it’s not private; I choose to share it with everyone, in the hope that they might get some inspiration, or find some information that makes their lives easier. I started blogging just about my baking adventures when I was on sick leave with a chest infection and infernally bored of daytime tv. I realised that there were all these vintage gals in the blogosphere that looked how I have wanted to look since I was 18. And away I went! No one is born knowing how to ‘be vintage’ – knowing what to wear, or how to do their hair. So I hope my blog will help to de-mystify some of that for people just dipping their toe in, and provide some reading for full time vintage gals.

What is it about vintage styles that you love?
Glamour. Elegance. Making it look effortless. Feminity. Clothes that were made to fit a woman’s body. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a shapeless t-shirt… it’s called ‘the gym’. Alot of what is on offer on the high street today doesn’t much pay attention to the fact that a woman has curves. Oh I forgot, according to a bunch of fashion designers I have never met, we aren’t supposed to have curves….

Which is your favourite decade for fashion?
Forties. Forties, forties, forties. I love the cut of the fabrics, and after the war years, the pleating in evening dresses, the sumptuous fabrics. It it simple, timeless elegance. It is also the time that women really came into their own. Rosie Rivetts could look glamourous and hold down a job and a family. Women really got to show the men what they were made of.

Why do you think vintage clothing and way of life are so popular at the moment?
I think people are hankering back to a time when they thought life was maybe simpler. It probably was, in some ways – because you were lucky if you had a tv, and kids would spend long balmy summer days playing outside. People are quick to forget that life was far from simple though – can you imagine trying to clean a carpet without a hoover? No thanks!

Where are your favourite places to shop for clothes?
Charity shops, and e bay. I do frequent a few vintage stores, but because of the popularity of it, the clothes tend to be a little pricey for what they are. It is possible to find vintage in charity shops, but it’s rare. There are plenty of vintage style clothing items to be had though…and let’s not forget mismatched china and cocktail glasses, the staple of every vintage gal’s home!

What is your favourite vintage bargain?
My absolute favourite item has to be a 1970s cream summer wrap dress. It could pass for something much older, aside from the fact that the material is that seventies go to, polyester! I fought for it on e bay and won it for about sixteen pounds. I just love it, I always get complimented when I wear it. I also have a pair of fifties navy cotton gloves I bought for a pound – that was a good day!

What are your tips for wearing vintage clothing?
Be confident, and go for it. Accessories and hair can make a look. If I put a cream blouse with a navy calf length skirt on with flat pumps and straight hair, I look like a frump. Add black suede two inch heels, curls or a faux bob and some red lipstick, and you have a complete look. You can certainly mix and match vintage and new items, but jsut bear in mind the perception you want to give off when you are putting outfits together.

You are obviously a big fan of red lipstick, which is your absolute favourite shade and brand?
Just one?? Really??? I love Besame’s ‘Besame Red’, although it looks as though I might have lost the darned thing….but I do have about seventeen others to choose from ;-)

Outfit photos - top – eighties dress via ebay, second – M&S dress via charity shop

Thank you to Lady Cherry for taking part in this interview. If you would like to be interviewed for Ethical Fashion Bloggers, please get in touch.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

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