Michelle with Wulf Vintage joined us for the next interview in our Meet the Maker Series! We talk all about vintage and what inspires her, what else Michelle does with Wulf Vintage, and what she thinks the next thing in vintage will be!
We have a good hunch, but our customers may not know, so to get started, where does the name Wulf Vintage come from?
I’ve been selling vintage clothes since 2011 under different names, but eventually I would always grew sick of whatever name I was selling under. As I became more serious about this business in 2017 I knew I had to pick a permanent name to stick with so I could grow a steady following and I suppose “brand” myself. My last name is “Wulfson” and I’ve always loved it, so Wulf Vintage just felt right. No regrets this time.
What is the heart of your company? Why vintage clothing?
I began wearing vintage clothing when I was super young because my mother is a hoarder like myself and saved a bunch of her childhood clothes from the 60’s and 70’s so as I came across them I would insist on wearing them- I had amazing self confidence as a child. As I grew older I would collect vintage purses and rhinestone necklaces while studying fashion magazines and designers’ new lines each season. Fashion is something that has been repeating itself for our entire generation almost, so I feel like why would I want a copy when I could have the original? Not to mention that it is significantly better for our environment.
When and how did you get started in vintage clothing?
Like most vintage sellers, I started as a clothes hoarder. I would go thrift shopping for myself and find all sorts of items I loved but that were not my size and would feel compelled to purchase it anyways thinking that I had to find it the perfect home.
What’s the process like for vintage? Are there things you always buy/things your never buy?
I actually put a lot more in to my process than most would think. Everything I sell is handpicked by myself and that means digging through mountains of clothes in thrift stores or garages. Being knee deep in clothes covered in insects, dirt, and dust is an everyday thing for me but you wouldn’t really know from my store. I wash or dry-clean items before putting them out if they are in relatively good condition, other times I have to re-hem or stitch pieces back together, change out buttons, etc. I will always buy a good denim jacket or jeans, and I hate to say “never” but probably never anything too costume-y like 80’s neon bike shorts or 70’s super polyester/nylon anything. Vintage is all about sustainability so naturally I prefer items that can transition through any time period without being too plain and get plenty of wear.
In addition to vintage clothing, you do some handmade artisan goods as well – tell us a little about those.
I do make jewelry and some bath / body products. I grew up making jewelry as a hobby to do with my mother. We both have extremely sensitive skin, especially when it comes to piercings, so I started making my own jewelry because it is hard to find cute but affordable jewelry with surgical steel posts. The same goes for my bath products, by making my own I know exactly what goes in each one and how it effects my sensitive skin. We think a lot these days about what goes in our bodies, but not so much as to what goes on it. All of my products are hand made by myself with all natural materials that you could typically find at a specialty grocery store and essential oils for fragrance. Simple but good.
What are some of the things you’ve learned since starting Wulf Vintage?
It’s not always about what I like, it’s about what sells. My problem in the past has always been picking out items that I would personally love to wear instead of looking at the environment around me and catering to what people actually wear. It’s crazy how drastically style can change from city to city so I’m always picking pieces for online and each specific city I regularly do pop-ups in.
We love your personal style. What inspires it? How does your inspiration and personal style influence what vintage clothing you pick and carry?
I’m very creative so I can find potential in any piece of clothing, so that can become dangerous money wise for me. I take a lot of inspiration from bloggers I follow on Instagram, magazines, musicians, and television shows like Twin Peaks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I tend to pick a lot of items from the late 60’s - 90’s. I know that’s a huge range, but I love mixing and matching, “clashing”, if you will. I like mixing super girly with masculine grunge / punk looks.
What does your closet look like? What’s your personal favorite vintage item? Are there any items you refuse to buy new?
I’m very fortunate to have a large walk in closet that my boyfriend lets me have almost entirely to myself. It’s a pretty eclectic mix in there style wise. It is hard to choose a favorite, but I’m really feeling this 1970’s kaftan dress with butterflies all over I’ve been wearing lately. Every time I wear it I’m showered in comments and that’s always nice and uplifting I suppose. I don’t wear exclusively vintage, but almost all of my jeans with the exception of a couple of pairs are vintage. I love the weight and feel of the material as well as the fit. It’s super flattering to all body types, in my opinion, and something that modern companies seem to have trouble recreating.
What should we expect from Wulf Vintage in the coming year? What trends do think will be big in 2019?
I feel like people around here don’t follow trends too much so I don’t keep a lot of “on trend” clothing in store. I do shoot street style photography at New York Fashion Week so I got a peek at the new trends for 2019 and it looks like it will be all about western, 80’s style (especially the puff sleeves), tartan, and animal print.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a maker or small business owner?
My motto in life and business has always been to follow your gut. Everyone will want to have input on what you should be doing, and you should certainly listen to their input, but in the end only you truly know what is best for you and your business. Don’t be afraid to bet on yourself.