Now more than ever, online shopping is easy, convenient, and quick thanks to retailers like Amazon. Millions of products are able to be shipped to you in a matter of days; from technology and furniture, to cosmetics and food. You can do all your shopping in one place - and stay in your pajamas at home. This transition from brick-and-mortar shopping has been a great convenience but what are the social, environmental, and ethical implications of shopping online only?
First, let’s start by what is means to shop local. Shopping local means shopping at small, locally-owned businesses in your community. This could be boutiques, coffee shops, vintage stores, and more. This is different from shopping locally which means shopping at any store in your community, for example shopping at a nearby Walmart or Bestbuy. We’re just going to be talking about shopping local, at small businesses. When you buy from local makers and business owners, you’re directly supporting the livelihood of your neighbors and community members. You know that the money you’re spending is going to stay in your community and support those nearby. On the other hand, when you shop at a large retailer, such as Walmart, Target, and others similar, you don’t really know where your money goes, and only a small percentage stays in the community or pays local employees. And even further removed from local economies is the online retail industry.
A few weeks ago I got to attend a Sustainable Fashion Forum event during Portland Textile Month where a panel of a few local small business owners got together to answer questions about fashion and sustainability. One of the answers that really stuck with me was about how we can truly make the fashion industry more sustainable and what that would look like. L.A. Caldwell, owner and creator of Minnie + George, a local handmade leather goods business, talked about how we need to return to buying products from local economies and makers instead of huge conglomerate retailers. Businesses that produce goods on a much smaller scale tend to be sustainable at least by default. Of course, today it would be near impossible for most people to switch to buying only local, but relying mainly on local businesses to buy goods would be an effective change. If less companies, especially fashion brands, weren’t focused on selling in such a huge, global, manner, there would be much less waste and environmental impact.
The truth is, it’s very difficult for local businesses to compete with the large ones. Large corporations have a plethora of money and therefore resources; whereas local business don’t have that. A real, and disappointing, example of this is Bleecker street in New York City. In the late 1980’s small businesses began popping up all over Bleecker street, from cupcake shops like Magnolia Bakery, to small boutiques like Arleen Bowman. All the shops were unique, with their own atmosphere and vibe that couldn’t be found anywhere else. In 2000, there was a turning point for Bleecker street - Magnolia Bakery was featured on an episode of Sex and the City. Even though the bakery was just on the show for 30 seconds, it completely changed Bleecker street. Soon after the episode was aired, the bakery was written about in British Vogue, and people flocked to the bakery and Bleecker street as a whole.
Now that Bleecker had a much larger presence and much more foot traffic, more people began to take notice of the value of the street. One of those people was the president of Marc Jacobs, who outbid other businesses to open a shop on Bleecker. This was the tipping point. Once Marc Jacobs opened, other luxury retailers followed suit, such as Ralph Lauren, Cynthia Rowley, Coach, Jimmy Choo, and more. Because there was such a high demand for retail space in this five block area, many landlords converted ground level apartments into retail spaces because they’d be much more profitable with the demand for them at the time.
Everything was pretty great for the upscale brands and proprietors for a while. There was still a lot of foot traffic and celebrities shopping there that heightened Bleecker street’s popularity, plus tourists made it a must-see while they were in town. But that could only last so long. The rentals that used to be around $75 per square foot quickly skyrocketed to $300 by the mid 2000’s. This spike in rent made it impossible for the original small businesses to stay. How could a small business afford to re-sign a lease when the price of rent jumped from $7,000 to $45,000? By the early 2010’s barely any original small businesses remained. But soon, the large luxury retailers couldn’t afford to open shop there either. The many people and tourists who perused the streets were there to take in the atmosphere and possibly spot a celeb - not to buy a $3,000 handbag. Bleecker street had become more of a “vanity location;” a place that wasn’t about sales but more about image. Having a shop in a “vanity location” would have been fine - if it wasn’t for a huge takeoff in online shopping at this time. Because of the increase in online traffic, having “vanity locations” became much less important and luxury retailers gradually stopped renewing their Bleecker street leases.
Now, Bleecker street is full of vacancies and empty storefronts as landlords and proprietors are holding out for more companies to pay their sky-high rent. Some foreign brands will open temporary pop-up shops on Bleecker to gain awareness for their brand in the United States, but finding long-term tenants has been a challenge. What was once a street where someone could cross off everything on their shopping list in one trip, is now a half-empty luxury retail street where a bustling local shopping district used to be.
Bleecker street is a sad story of the gradual gentrification of a district that used to support local business owners and makers, and offered the community unique goods and necessary items. But the truth is, there are many other locations all over the USA who have a similar story to tell. Small businesses need strong community support now more than ever, with the rise of retail giant Amazon, and other global retailers. Small businesses just can’t compete on the same level as these huge companies.
But we all know that bigger doesn’t always equal better. The perks of shopping small and local can easily outweigh the convenience of shopping large and online. By shopping small you can interact with and get to know the individuals you’re supporting, plus you know where your good and products are coming from. I couldn’t tell you where the last three things I ordered off Amazon came from, or who benefitted from my purchase. What I hope to impress upon you is that shopping small does real, honest good for your community, and it’s really not that hard, it just requires a bit of thoughtfulness and willingness. It can be as easy as skipping the Starbucks drive-through and opting to head into your local cafe instead, or closing the Nordstrom app and browsing local boutiques. So this holiday season, and any season, think of your buying power and the impact your purchases create.
For as long as people have worn clothes, old garments have be repurposed, handed down, and remade. But second hand shopping as we know it today is a fairly new concept. Before the Industrial Revolution, all clothing was custom and handmade either by a tailor or someone in the family who knew how to sew. Because making new garments was time consuming, clothes were not seen as disposable and their lifetime was stretched as long as possible. For example, if a mother bought a new dress from a tailor she would wear it and wear it nearly every day, and mend any tears and rips as they occurred. Then, when the dress could no longer be mended, it would be made into clothes for the children. Then when the children outgrew the clothes or the clothes became too worn, the clothes would then be used as rags or stuffing for furniture. But once the Industrial Revolution completely changed how fashion was manufactured, the disposal and use of clothing would completely change too.
As clothing became more and more inexpensive to manufacture, people began to see clothing as disposable. Why take the time and effort to mend things when you could just go out and buy a new one fairly inexpensively? As more and more people moved to cities to find work, they often had to cut down on the possessions they owned because they had less space. But where would all the used clothing and housewares go? At this time in the late 19th century/earth 20th century, wearing pre-owned items was a bit of a faux-pas. It showed that you didn’t have much money, and there were also some anti-semitic connotations to this. The first preowned merchants were typically Jewish, and there was much bias against Jews at this time. Despite this, it was shown that good money could be made from reselling items, so in 1897 the Salvation Army opened up a “salvage brigade” shop in the basement of a shelter, and the first Goodwill opened in 1902. Christian organizations saw resale shops as a good way to fund their ministries and help the less fortunate. In addition, many thrift shops at this time offered outreach programs, like Goodwill still does today by offering free English classes and help finding jobs.
Thrift stores were originally called “junk shops” which didn’t help their popularity and reputation at the time. But by the 1920’s when more and more people began shopping secondhand, they became known as thrift shops, which made people feel better about shopping at them. Then, once the Great Depression hit, people couldn’t afford to part with their belongings, and the same thing happened during World War II. But, after the boom of post-war prosperity, business took off for thrift stores during the 1950’s. Part of this also had to do with synthetic fibers becoming more popular and widespread - Polyester was created in 1941 and it soon became a staple fiber for textiles. People were parting with their old goods, and opting for new polyesters ones.
It was also during the 1950’s that more specialized thrift shops emerged - such as consignment shops and vintage shops where wealthier consumers would peruse, looking for high-end and couture garments at a reduced price. Since then, this “treasure hunt” style of second hand shopping has only skyrocketed. After this, with the rise of the Environmental Movement, thrift shopping also became a way of environmentally-friendly shopping, and was seen as a form of recycling - as it is today.
Today, second hand shopping is easier than ever. There are thrift, consignment, and vintage shops all over cities and urban areas. Plus, with the creation of websites like ThredUp and TheRealReal, now consumers don’t even have to leave their homes to find great garments at a second-hand price. Plus, private clothing brands themselves have started their own resale shopping sites. One of the most popular is Eileen Fisher’s Renew program where customers can send back their used Eileen Fisher garments and the clothes are then mended, repaired, remade, and resold at a lower price. Eileen Fisher has a team of seamstresses that work specifically for the Renew program who are experts at repairing garments. This is also a sustainable option - instead of throwing used and worn garments away, they can be remade and their lifespan can be extended. There’s also a company, the local Renewal Workshop, located in Cascade Locks, OR that works with brands to help extend the lifetime of their products and help them create a circular lifespan. Also, they collect data on the brand they work with and share it with them to let them know how to better manufacture their garments.
So where will the resale industry go from here? It’s only expected to grow larger - specifically to a $41 Billion dollar industry by 2022, and about half (49%) of that resale industry is the clothing resale industry. Plus, this industry is growing 24 times faster than the regular retail industry. With the fast growth of resale, it will be interesting to see where technology, innovation, and sustainability will take us.
Designers we love and some cliff notes on them and their backgrounds:
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten is a Belgian fashion designer who grew up around fashion - his father owned a menswear shop and his grandfather was a tailor. Van Noten graduated from Antwerp Academy in 1980. Soon, his designs gained popularity and made their way to the United States.
Van Noten’s designs are described as “eccentric” and unique. Their designs feature lots of color, interesting style lines, and much attention to detail. Something interesting about this brand is that unlike most other design houses, Dries Van Noten does only ready to wear items, not haute couture. They are based out of Antwerp, and they create four new collections every year: summer and winter, men’s and women’s. Dries Van Noten is well known for creating well-made designs with a unique twist, which is what makes his designs desirable. Also, his designs tend to be slightly less expensive than his luxury counterparts, such as Gucci and LV.
Yves St. Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent got his start in fashion by designing dresses for his mother and sisters in his early teens. A few years later he began attending the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris where his designs were quickly noticed. He went on to study under Christian Dior where his designs gained even more notice. Saint Laurent worked his way up through the Dior fashion house, and when Christian Dior died suddenly of a heart attack, Saint Laurent found himself as the head designer of the Dior house at age 21.
His spring 1958 collection was very well received and saved the Dior house from devastating financial ruin. His designs were inspired by Dior’s New Look which catapulted him into stardom with his Trapeze Dress design. In the 60’s, Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge started their own fashion house - YSL. It was during this time that he created perhaps one of his most famous designs - the Mondrian dress, inspired by artist Piet Mondrian’s abstract paintings. Another style that Saint Laurent is known for is the Beatnik look of the 60’s, specifically the women’s tuxedo jacket he called “Le Smoking.”
Saint Laurent was the first French haute couture house to launch a pret-a-porter (ready to wear) line. This turned out to be a good choice for him as his ready to wear line made much more profit than his couture line.
Saint Laurent is a highly revered fashion designer whose fashion house, YSL, is still creating new designs today. His brand is very luxurious and high quality, with a women’s suit jacket selling for about $4,000 on his website. YSL has been known for creating innovative, high-quality designs and Saint Laurent’s legacy lives on through his fashion house.
Founded by Guccio Gucci in 1921 in Florence, Italy, Gucci has been a long-standing luxury brand. Guccio Gucci got his start by designing handbags and saddlebags after being inspired by luxury luggage he encountered while working in a hotel. His shop soon had a reputation for being the highest quality, and began to expand. He opened shops across Europe and in the United states, and sold luxury leather goods, shoes, his iconic loafer, and some garments as well. Gucci expanded his company into New York City, where jetsetters from around the globe established his brand as a status symbol - something that still holds true today.
Gucci still lives up to the standard of using only the highest quality leather, and many of their iconic styles are made of leather; such as their loafers and belts. The Gucci couture house is still based in Florence, Italy to this day, and is able to thrive as a high-end luxurious brand because the “status symbol” reputation of Gucci still lives on as it did in the early 1900s.
Prada was started in 1913 by Mario Prada in Italy as a fine leather goods shop. Its reputation for quality grew throughout the 20th century, and by the 1990s, Prada was known as a luxury status symbol. Prada’s originality set the brand apart from the pack, and helped the brand gain popularity. Also in the late 1980’s/early 1990s, Prada launched its brand Miu Miu that is geared towards younger customers and launched its ready to wear lines.
Prada’s success and profits have only increased, and Prada is well-known for bags and accessories, as well as its runway looks. Prada also creates shoes, sunglasses, and perfumes.
Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854 in Paris by Louis Vuitton himself. He started out by making practical trunks that were lightweight and airtight that could be stacked. Prior to this, most trunks had rounded tops and were unable to be stacked. In the decades following the success of LV’s trunks, the brand expanded into other types of goods such as totes and bags that featured the LV monogram logo.
LV stuck mostly to creating bags and other fine leather goods, but now sells ready-to-wear lines, fragrances, shoes, jewelry, and accessories in addition to their bags and leather goods. LV still creates bags with their iconic LV symbol which is very popular, and has stood the test of time. Louis Vuitton also offers bags in exotic leathers that sell for upwards of $20,000.
Stella McCartney is the daughter of Paul McCartney, and is known for her designs that use vegetarian alternatives instead of fur and leather. McCartney designed her first jacket at age 13, and in the years following studied under well-known designers such as Christian Lacroix and graduation from Central St. Martin’s University. She started her fashion house in 2001, and now there are 17 Stella McCartney stores worldwide.
Stella McCartney is known for her women’s ready to wear line, but also offers handbags, shoes, lingerie, swimwear, and accessories. She is also known for her collaboration with Adidas where she produced various athletic and athleisure garments in conjunction with Adidas.
Christian Louboutin started his career freelancing for various fashion houses, but eventually opened up his own shoe salon in Paris where he found favor among celebrity clientele, and the brand has only grown from there. Louboutin has perhaps one of the most recognizable fashion signatures in the industry. The trademark red soles of his shoes are iconic and are a symbol of luxury and wealth.
Chloé was started in 1952 by Gaby Aghion in Paris, France. The brand is known for creating feminine, romantic styles. Chloé has always been an innovative brand - they were the first to introduce luxury ready to wear styles, and was the first to integrate a mobile-friendly website and livestream a runway show. The brand has also released additional collections - See by Chloé for younger women, and a girls line. In the 1970’s Karl Lagerfeld was Chloé’s sole designer, and created soft, feminine silk dresses.
In the 2000’s Chloé expanded into accessories, shoes, and bags with many young British designers taking over as Creative Director; including Stella McCartney. Chloé only creates women’s items and has not expanded into menswear. Also, the brand is known for their horse-print items.
Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana was started by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana in Legnano, Italy in 1985, much later than many of D&G’s competitors. The duo got their start by designing a women’s line in Milan Fashion Week among some other up-and-coming designers. Later, they opened a store in Italy and gained recognition for their fourth collection which was inspired by 1940’s Italian cinema. The Sicilian Dress, which was a piece from that collection, was a huge success and D&G is still known for that dress today.
Now, D&G has expanded into menswear, children’s wear, accessories, fragrance, and more.
Emilio Pucci was born into an Italian noble family in the early 1900’s, but he actually has some roots in Portland. After he was cut off financially from his family, he offered to design Reed College’s ski uniforms in exchange for tuition - and he did. With the help of local White Stag, Pucci produced all of the new ski uniforms for Reed. Pucci’s designs gained more prominent recognition when one of his women’s ski wear designs was photographed and featured in Harper’s Bazaar. Not long after, Pucci set up his own haute couture house on the Isle of Capri.
Pucci is known for his use of bright colors and bold patterns - his blouses and wrinkle-free silk skirts were very popular among his customers. Soon, Pucci was recognized on the international level, winning various design awards such as the Neiman Marcus Award. He was then thrust even further into popularity when Marilyn Monroe became a fan of his in the 1960s. To this day, the Emilio Pucci design house carries on the tradition of bold colors and patterns, and still creates skiwear.
Written by Krista Sanford, our St. Johns shopgirl, who is studying apparel design at the Art Institute with a focus on sustainability. Her final project for her draping class is shown below.
Krista just finished her final project for her draping class its pictured above.
No, we don’t.
Designer handbags are expensive, and dropping a few thousand dollars (or more) on a single bag new is something that most people aren’t willing to do. Usually, we want to have more money in the bag than how much the bag cost itself. This is where counterfeit handbags come in - not knockoffs that have a similar design as another more expensive bag, but replicas with another brand’s logos and signature embellishments. Knockoffs aren’t necessarily illegal (although unethical), while counterfeit bags have a much darker history behind them. It is illegal to sell counterfeit or replica bags in the US.
What’s the harm in buying a counterfeit anyway? They’re cheaper, and they’re usually copied so well that most people couldn’t tell it apart from the real thing. First, they tarnish the reputation of brands and bring the value of designer goods down. Designers put hours and hours of work into crafting the perfect bag, and when counterfeits are made, their hard work is stolen. Even worse, the creation of counterfeits usually relies on unethical labor practices such as slavery and child labor, and subsidizes other crimes such as human trafficking, gang activity, and drug smuggling. Author Becca Risa Luna gives a good example of what buying a counterfeit bag truly means. “Imagine that a counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag may have been stitched by a child that was taken from their parents, then the money used from the sale of it funds a terrorist purchasing weapons.” Is that $150 LV bag still worth it?
Since the rise of social media, the distribution and consumption of luxury counterfeits has only skyrocketed. This is especially evident on Instagram, where there are 20,000+ accounts selling fake luxury goods from Chanel handbags to Yeezy shoes. These accounts usually look roughly the same - and feature great photography of items that look just like the goods they’re pretending to be. Instagram isn’t the only social media hotspot for fake goods; Facebook Marketplace and even Whatsapp are also contributors. Of course, social media sites shut down accounts that are selling counterfeits when they’re reported, but once one is closed, another (or more) will take its place.
Counterfeits have only gotten more and more similar to the originals as time has gone on. Some distributors of fake handbags will even incorporate authentic components into fake bags, creating a Frankenstein's monster of a part real/part fake bag. Even professional authenticators have been fooled by fake bags; that’s just how good the counterfeiters have become. They pay immaculate attention to detail, and even include replicas of the dust bag and box to make the bags seem authentic. Some distributors will even go as far as to replicate tags, serial numbers, and stickers to fool consumers.
So, where do we go from here? What are some ways that we as consumers can make sure that we’re purchasing an authentic designer bag? First, there’s always the age-old rule: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you see someone selling a rare Chanel handbag for $150, you’re probably not paying for an actual Chanel bag. Do some research! Great resources exist online to see how much similar (real) bags are going for, such as therealreal.com. Price is the very first indicator of a fake bag, and will usually tell you if you’re paying for a Birkin or a bust. Another indicator of a fake is the feeling of the materials that it’s made of. This, of course, doesn’t work if you’re shopping online, but if you’re shopping in person, this can be a useful tool. Luxury handbags are typically made of the highest-quality leathers; hence the sky-high price. If the “leather” feels plasticy and not supple like nice leather should be, that’s a red flag. The colors on a fake can also appear blotchy and uneven, while real bags will have a flawless finish.
Another easy way to spot a fake is in the logo. Authentic bags will have crisp, clear logos that are easily recognizable, while the counterfeits could have an obvious misspelling such as “Gocci” instead of “Gucci,” or the logo could just be blurry/fuzzy. Still, a fake bag could have a clear logo, great finish, and supple material, and still be an illegal bag. Being able to authenticate a bag takes years of experience and studying, and for the average consumer, discerning a real from a fake can be near impossible.
If you’re looking to go the resale route, reputable sites such as therealreal.com (that I mentioned earlier) and fashionphile.com are some good places to start. Also, high-end consignment boutiques are great too. Usually, when people consign a luxury bag, the original tags and even receipts can still be with them - just ask the employee.
Buying fakes isn’t an innocent act of just getting a good deal - it does a lot of harm, and not much good. Buying a 100% authentic bag sustains the reputation of the designer, ensures that you’re getting a quality handbag, and makes sure that the money you pay isn’t going to fund crime. Plus, you know that your bag was specially crafted - not sewn together by a child in slavery.
FYI: Consign Couture authenticates each designer bag by the owner or authentication service.
Photos used in this blog are of actual replica bags being sold on Instagram
High Waist Skirts
High-Waist Mom Jeans
High-Waist Skinny Jeans
Distressed Boyfriend Jeans
Side Tie/Side Ruched Dresses
Interesting Necklines: Off-Shoulder, Deep V, High Neck
Interesting Hemlines: Scalloped, Layered, Asymmetrical
Over the Knee Boots
Cropped Athletic Tops
High Shine Satin
Hello, nice to meet you, so glad you’re here, see you again soon—do you ever think about how life is a series of meetings and partings? Over and over again we come together with others, then we part company. I’m learning to respect each of those concepts: What it means to welcome something and what it means to say goodbye.
Seven years ago I opened the doors of Consign Couture St. Johns with the hope that I could meet my North Portland neighbors and provide a space for them to feel at home. Today, I’m writing to you to say thank you for those incredible, soul-healing years of community, mutual support and sustainable fashion. Like all good things, the era of Consign Couture St. Johns is coming to an end and something new is taking its place.
When I opened this business I never dreamed in a million years that I would pass the torch to someone else, but the time has come for me to do so. While Consign Couture will continue to live on in Lake Oswego, the St. Johns location will become Gather Resale, a new concept from CC VIP and sustainable fashion maven Phoebe Krueger. More on that in a minute.
It’s hard to leave a neighborhood that you’ve loved for over a decade of your life. St. Johns has given me so much more than I can ever hope to give back and I am humbled by what we were able to build together. I am so thrilled to be able to pass the reigns of something so dear to my heart to someone who cares as much about sustainable style, supporting other women and St. Johns as I do.
Thank you again for helping me build a business that gave me so much more than a vocation. Through your love and support, I found purpose, community and a place to truly belong.
Introducing: Gather Resale
Gather Resale is committed to providing an inviting space for style conscious and sustainability-minded people to buy high quality resale clothing at a great value. We offer a welcoming atmosphere with top notch service where neighbors are invited to express and explore their personal style by shopping our carefully curated selection of clothing. Our consignment model facilitates a space for consigners to sell their previously loved clothing to new owners who will treasure them.
Letter from Phoebe
You know how sometimes you put an idea out there that sounds awesome but too big and scary to really imagine happening?
Well, that’s how I initially felt the first few times I mentioned to Tamara that I would like to have my own resale shop someday. But now that it is really happening, I am more excited than ever and know this is the right decision. Tamara laid the groundwork for a super shop that brings the community together and I plan to continue the awesome work she started while adding my own personal touches to the shop over time.
One of my favorite things about the shop was the sense of community I felt when I walked in and the strong relationships Tamara build with her customers. I am equally committed to Gather Resale being a place that brings the community together and look forward to getting to know my customers.
I’ve lived in North Portland with my husband Matt (only about a mile and a half from the shop) for the past ten years. I love living up here and supporting the businesses in my neighborhood. I am so happy when I can walk to the store or bike to a local restaurant. Expect to see my bike parked out front regularly when it’s not raining!
I’ve been a customer of Consign Couture since it opened. I shop resale so I can get high-quality clothing at great prices while doing my part not to further damage the environment. I serve on the board of Friends of Trees and am passionate about sustainability!
Looking forward to seeing you around the shop!
Fun facts about Phoebe
I love cats (I have two, Myrtle and Gertrude), hanging out with my husband, drinking beer and wine, trying new restaurants, working out, traveling and reading. I am an expert at creating a solid snack spread. I’m from Wisconsin, but have lived in Portland 16 years. I worked at the Gap for five years while I was in college and it was one of my very favorite jobs. Who knew I would come back to retail 20 years later?
On January 1, 2019 Consign Couture St. Johns will officially become Gather Resale. So what does that mean for you? It means that you have a new option for beautiful, stylish resale shopping, however, it will be a completely different company than Consign Couture. See below for important information for CC consigners and customers with store credit.
What to do if you have store credit with CC St. Johns?
If you have store credit with Consign Couture in St. Johns you have two options: Use your credit to buy yourself or someone else something nice for the holidays or your credit will automatically transfer to the CC Lake Oswego location after December 31.
What to do as a consigner with CC St. Johns?
Your items sold between now and the end of the year will be paid out after December 31. Beginning January 1, 2019, your unsold inventory will be sold with Gather Resale; please visit the shop to sign a new contract next time you are in!
We asked Morning Dove the founder of Coral Story Beauty some questions about her new store inside Consign Couture Lake Oswego:
As a young girl I grew up in Montana with my mom, 4 sisters, and a brother. From an early age we were not allowed soda or candy, but fruit, veggies, and water. It wasn't until my college years that I finally indulged in everything. Diet Coke was my best friend for a long time! After having my son in my early 30s, going through a few health scares and dealing with poor skin in general, I finally woke up to those early teachings of my mom who said, "It matters what you put in your body as much as what you put on your body." Along with cleaning up my diet, I decided it was time to make the switch from conventional toxic makeup and skincare to clean and/or organic beauty products. Not only does my skin look the best but I also feel the best!
1. what types of products are you going to be selling?
Natural & Organic makeup and skincare mostly, with special seasonal items here and there. Our current lines are Hynt Beauty, Nu Evolution, Au Naturale, Lily Lolo, Battington Beauty, and Maya Chia.
2. where did you find the lines for Coral Story Beauty?
My own personal experience and research, with some help from a few of my favorite green beauty bloggers. There isn’t a brand in the store that doesn’t have a product in my daily rotation.
3. Where did you get the inspiration and idea to start CSB?
Online shopping for makeup can be very difficult to match your skin and I was having a hard time finding things locally. I have worked in retail for many years and have always wanted to start my own business, so doing just that with an idea I’m so passionate about made a lot of sense.
6. Will you have an online store?
Further down the road, yes, but right now we want to celebrate being a brick & mortar. Makeup and skincare is so personal that we really want to be able to spend face-to-face time with our customers and the community.
7. What do you want people to know about your brand?
Coral Story Beauty is a woman & minority owned business. We are open to everyone and want a space to help and educate people on their beauty journeys.
8. Will people be able to get makeovers at CSB?
Yes! We offer services for mini makeovers, color-matching, and going thru the existing products you currently have & thoughtfully switching what you can. We can do event makeup too!
9. What are your 5 MUST have beauty products?
Under eye concealer
10. Tell us more about YOU!?
My husband and I are originally from Montana, we have been together for 14yrs, and have a 5yr old son. We have two persian cats. I am a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in Montana. I am also a certified Personal Trainer and have taught classes for Baby Boot Camp SW Portland & Wilsonville. I enjoy reading books, playing with my family, working out, running, shopping, and going to Blazer games.
Be sure to join us SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY to celebrate our Consign Couture Lake Oswego + Coral Story Beauty Grand Opening on 11/24 10a-7p. RSVP HERE
I'm thrilled to offer to you Melissa, my personal organizer for my home and my businesses whom I have worked with for the last 2 years. She's a north Portland resident who has been professionally organizing for 12 years. She works closely with some of Portland's prominent business owners including The Society Hotel, Posies Cafe, Mantel, Integrate Architecture and the Kenton Business Association!
Tidy Nest Organizing + Consign Couture are partnering to help you clear out your closet, consign your items and organize your space.
How it Works:
Sign up for a closet clean out and organization appointment with Tidy Nest
You will be quoted a special hourly rate that only Consign Couture customers receive.
Tidy Nest Organizing will help you clear your closet and organize your space.
Items cleared will be brought to Consign Couture for evaluation & sorting.
You will receive an online account with a detailed list of items that are consigned.
Items not being consigned will be donated and a donation receipt will be provided to you upon request.
You will be paid electronically for consigned items sold.
After the items have been removed from your closet and room Tidy Nest Organizing will:
Organize remaining items in your closet space
Discuss potential storage solutions based on how you use your space
Provide tips and techniques for maintaining an organized closet
Tidy Nest Organizing works with you to clear your closet and transform it to a stress free, functional space.
It is important to us to use the voice we have to make a positive impact on our community. These are the 4 core values at the heart of Consign Couture that represent what we advocate for and support as a business:
- Educating on how to live more sustainably, both in regards to fashion and in every day life.
- Striving to carry an equal selection of sizes 10 and over as smaller clothes, and promoting other consignment, resale and local stores you can feel good about shopping at if you don't wear under a size 10.
- Providing our community with workshops and classes that get women together as a way to educate, provide connection, inspire motivation and creativity, reduce stress, etc.
- Sharing resources and recommendations for maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit as a way of encouraging mental health support, especially by offering a list of providers who are accepting new patients and who offer sliding scales. Email us privately and we can share that list with you.
I have been meaning to write this for a year now. I have been studying consignment shops for the last 10 years while traveling in Phoenix, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas and of course right here in Portland.
Whenever I travel I always schedule a whole day of checking out the best shops in whatever city I go to. I love shopping consignment and resale so much now I've created my own city bus tours to visit the best Portland consignment and resale shops every few months. I look over everything when I go to these shops. I look in their back room, how they organize the floor layout, the type of clothing and merchandise they take in, and most importantly I study how they price. I look at their consignment terms, consignment time length, whether or not they buy outright, etc. Do they take a mix of high end and low end? How is the low end stuff priced? (Target, Gap, Old Navy, Forever 21) How are the handbags priced? I digest and store away that information, and yes I consider it a blessing that shopping is work for me.
Time and time again researching other shops makes me feel more and more committed to why I started a consignment business 7 years ago. Before I opened Consign Couture I only shopped new and I knew how to find the best deals for new things. I wanted to create a shop that I would want to shop at myself. This means a lot of things in my shop are done in a way that appeals to me and draws from my own personal research. This is why people start businesses, right? To take their own creative ideas and go with them? I decided to carry a modern, timeless selection of clothing and if I had to label the store trends we follow it would be Nordstrom and Anthropologie. I wanted fresh and accessible. I did not want vintage, unless the vintage is Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and maybe a few other designers, in which case I’ll take vintage all day long. Each season I have to hone in on what is selling now, what is current and what feels timeless. I don’t love trends. I try to stay away from things that come in for a season and then are no longer current. I always go back to the words timeless, classic and modern.
Once I had my standards laid out, I opened and hoped that people would come. Thankfully in St. Johns they did. I remember the first day I opened. It was a Thursday and I was so mortified, I had to close after my first customers. It felt too personal. I opened 2 days later on a Saturday for real and it went great. Now that I was open I had to create systems for 6 months later when I would have my first employee. I wanted to tell her to only take “the good cute stuff” but that kind of description doesn’t cut it. We have to get detailed and even when our manuals lay it all out there is still room for error, or questions arise. A lot of what we take depends on a mixture of studying what we've taken in the past, what has and hasn't sold, and what I personally like. 7 years later we are still working on the perfect manual that details what brands, styles and types of things we consign. Now that we have 2 locations we have to be extra descriptive on what we accept in each of those stores.
Seven years ago I dreamed of opening a shop like the one we now have in Lake Oswego. Boutique feel, higher end brands, 2 computers: one for sales and one for consigning, in a neighborhood I spent part of my youth in. I was thrilled to be able to take the things I had learned over the last 7 years from opening my first consignment shop in an old converted garage and make the Lake Oswego shop a higher end version of my business plan. There is a lot of work to be done in this new location regarding honing in on our exact clientele needs while also matching what I want to see in the store. Also, and this is a new one to me: explaining how we price designer and luxury items.
First, I’d like to address a really important shift in consignment in the last few years when it comes to pricing. The cliff notes are: I price based on brand, condition and style (which is what every consignment shop will tell you.) In the last few years there has been a huge shift in how easy and accessible it is to buy second hand. Offer Up, Let Go, Craigslist, buy and sell Facebook groups, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Mercari, Thredup, and the original eBay are all available 24/7 for second hand shopping online. When I started my business there was only Craigslist and eBay. In my opinion, this has made it so that consignment stores have to reduce their prices. Especially when we take into account having to beat the pricing of the huge sales that department stores consistently have now and the discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, and Ross.
After all, we are selling used things. They may be in perfect condition and look never worn but I believe that to be competitive you have to price lower than what someone can get new. There are a few exceptions where we can elevate our prices: things that are out of production and still command a high value, certain luxury items that retain more value than others and certain other things that we know as shop owners will fly out the door at any price.
I got some items in yesterday in our Lake Oswego shop that still had the tags from another local consignment shop and the prices on them were 2-4 times what we would have priced them at. I thought about this and checked The Real Real, eBay and other general internet price comparisons. One item was a floral print Diane Von Furstenberg dress (in season, good print, good condition) it came in to our shop priced at $179 from another shop. A similar DVF dress that style would cost retail on sale $179-$398 brand new. If the dress is not super current or in style but still a great brand we will take it but not price it more than $59-$89. If this dress was a maxi and a slightly different style (a more coveted current one) we could sell this dress for $100+. I have no issue with how other shops come to their pricing model (this dress was actually in one of the best shops in town previously!) This is just an example of how I go about pricing things and the reasoning behind it.
Actual DVF dress we got in our Lake Oswego location. Our price is $68.
My point is that there are some fantastic designer brands out there, but just because it's DVF, Max Mara, YSL, Burberry, Gucci, Prada, etc, if its a bit worn, or tired, or the style is not “in” anymore, or its just not that cute -- it won’t sell at all even if we price low. I want to emphasize that point again. There are some styles of high end designer or even well loved brands like Coach that people simply will not buy any longer. The hobo style Coach bags that were once a huge thing? We can’t even move them for $15. The brown signature “C” Coach bags we can’t move at all!
Handbags. A whole other story. The handbags that are selling now are larger, bucket bags, cross body, backpack and some tote/clutch styles. In the past few years the styles that had previously been selling for years totally changed. The shoulder, hobo styles are a thing of the past. One of the handbag brands that used to be super popular on consignment was Marc by Marc Jacobs, but in 2016 Marc Jacobs stopped making Marc by Marc and now focuses only on Marc Jacobs. Some of the Marc Jacobs bags new changed to a more affordable price point. Marc by Marc used to be the affordable version but now its gone and the main Marc Jacobs is more affordable? This lessened the value of Marc by Marc, and at the same time the styles of Marc by Marc became a little tired as well. Moral of the story? Don’t buy handbags as an investment. (This is a general rule of thumb: some handbags may be excluded in this and actually gain in value like a Birkin bag.)
This stunning Melrose handbag by Louis Vuitton came in this week. Perfect example of current luxury that can hold value. This bag was purchased 2 years ago for $2500 (we have the original receipt.) We have it priced at $1590. There is a tiny white mark on the bottom; if that was not there we would be able to sell at $1790. There is some LV that will fly out the door. This is a specialty bag and not an everyday bag and will take the right customer.
I conclude with a phrase I say in the most loving way. “I may not be the right consignment shop for you." I will not push my prices on things I don’t think can and will sell within 60 days at a certain price. I understand that I am for the most part selling things that are secondhand and our pricing needs to be competitive. I also I want my customers to be happy with the deals they get in my shop. I want to sell high end things for an exceptional value and I want my consignors and my customers both to be very happy. Pleasing both parties can be tough at times. I have had little to no issues in the St. Johns shop with my pricing model. In Lake Oswego we haven't yet, but I see it coming and I want to have our elevator pitch ready. That's why I wrote this. Thank you for your continued support that allows me to live my dream.
Below are a collection of photos from the St. John shop at it's start in 2011 and a few from our new Lake Oswego location.
We wanted to share some photos from a recent mini spring look book shoot we did:
Moving forward we're looking for more spring & summer consignment to match the gorgeous warmer weather that has finally arrived. We are constantly looking to fill our racks with more clothing above a size 10, and aim to bring in a majority of clothing that is made from quality, natural fibers that can be worn for years to come.
Visit our current Pinterest board for an idea of style's we're looking for in both shops.
We all have room to be a little more sustainable in our lives. It's easy to get caught up in the craziness of life and let little details fall by the wayside, so here are 10 simple things you can do in your day to day life that supports living more sustainably. Some of them may seem obvious or small, but doing all of these things together will help reduce your footprint on the planet and make you feel good that you're doing your part: every little bit counts.
- Bring reusable straws and utensils with you wherever you go. This helps reduce the waste from disposable plastics. It's astonishing the amount of plastic we waste when we're eating on the go. Start carrying a travel pouch of stainless steel straws and bamboo utensils (or any other variation of reusable ware) in your purse or car so you get in the habit of utilizing them.
- Keep a to go mug in your car for spontaneous coffee stops. It's easy to just grab a coffee on the go without thinking of the waste repercussions, but even just a few coffees a week in disposable cups majorly contributes to the waste problem.
- Don't drink bottled water unless it's absolutely necessary. Start carrying a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. If you tend to forget yours easily, buy multiple and store one at your house, in your car, at work, etc. so you won't be tempted to buy bottled water.
- Replace disposable plastics with reusable wares in your home. Ditch the ziplock bags and replace them with reusable snack bags, or use tupperware instead. When going to the grocery store, bring reusable produce bags from home instead of using plastic bags for produce.
- Choose eco friendly cleaning products. All the harsh chemicals found in heavy duty cleaning products are harmful to you and to the environment. Eco friendly brands like Mrs. Meyer's and Seventh Generation carry all the cleaning products you could ever want and are safe to use.
- Dry your clothes outdoors when the weather allows for it. Using a clothing line or a drying rack instead of your electric dryer will help the environment and reduce your electric bill.
- Recycle worn out clothing and old electronics instead of throwing them in the trash. These are two common things that go to landfills when instead they can be recycled into something new. If you have clothing that is too worn out to be consigned or donated, find a recycling drop off such as GemText near you. If you have old or obsolete electronics, donate them to a local electronics recycling business such as Free Geek.
- Say "no" to the bag. Bring reusable bags from home whether you're shopping for groceries or clothing. Keep bags in your car so they're with you whenever you decide to stop at the store.
- Look for clothing made from recycled fibers when shopping new, or shop sustainably focused brands. Educate yourself on which brands are making the effort to reduce their environmental impact. Patagonia and Eileen Fisher are perfect examples of brands that are focused on being as sustainable as possible.
- Shop consignment and resale. This, of course, is the ultimate way to become more sustainable with your wardrobe. Although we can't buy absolutely everything used, if we can shift our mentalities so that 50% or more of our clothing is bought used, the amount of clothing waste will drop drastically. By consigning your clothing and purchasing used clothes, you are embodying the cycle of reduce, reuse, recycle.
Photo credit: Sustainability Challenge