Sonja and James of Capsule Vintage & the Dream Dress Project

dream dress

Can you introduce yourself to my readers?

J: Hi, hello! I’m James and my boo calls me goose. My neck is of normal length and I don’t honk. I’m just silly 😛 Sonja and I have plenty of mutual passions, yoga being one, but the most exciting has been our shared love for vintage goodies. Between holding hands and sun salutations you’ll find us at any number of local vintage hotspots––probably holding hands. I love graphic design and art in general, so all the design elements of CV come from my whimsical imagination. When I find enough time in my busy life away from a demanding teaching credential program I escape to a favorite hidden beach and surf on my sea green vintage twin fin. The ocean is my final frontier.
sonya and james
S: Hello sweet readers! I am Sonja and my better half likes to call me his boo. The two of us are inseparable, down to the moment we are vintage shopping and one of us finds a perfect item; we know we agree just by looking at each other. However, as our collection of vintage goodies continued to grow, we found ourselves cramped for space in our little Berkeley apartment. I was at a crossroads with what to do with my future career, and decided to marry these two issues and try selling clothes on Etsy to see how it might go. Now we are totally committed to the shop and cannot wait for what the future holds in store for us on our new Etsy home.
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I was drawn to one listing in your shop in particular, the dream dress project, can you explain what it is and how it came about?

S: The inspiration for the dream dress project has always been present for me since I was a tiny tater tot pursuing my mother’s capsule wardrobe, fantasizing the day I’d fill out a women’s size dress. Although I was only 9 years old, the desire for the most perfect dress for myself never disappeared. Through the years I always imagined how lucky I’d be to, by chance, stumble across my dream dress. Of course my vision of that dress changed and evolved over the years, in terms of style, color, material, etc. but the same basic desire remained— I always wanted to fill my closet with dresses from my dreams. Eventually what I realized is that it’s not luck as much as it is hard work, and time that goes into seeking out dream dresses. I am stubbornly determined and after endless toiling for a decade in the pursuit of a perfect ensemble I realized something simple yet magical––with the help of vintage-obbessed friends I could take a much needed vacation from the incessant work of dress hunting. Vintage Broker Project was created to meet the needs of our perfectly reasonable expectation of one day (ASAP) finding our dream dress. At Capsule Vintage we have assembled a ragtag team of Vintage Brokers (work colleagues, friends, family, professors believe it or not, and others who want to participate in the movement).

J: They can all participate to help find a dress per request of the buyer. We intend to expand the team and if all goes well hopefully one day result in an iPhone app and a global movement all contributing to make your dream a reality!

What sparked your interest in vintage?

S: I had loved clothes ever since I was a young, young girl! Yet the passion for vintage really emerged as I entered adolescence. Years ago, when I first started high school I was bummed that everyone dressed the same. The uniformity of the suburban community I lived in and the monotony of colors among the clothes I saw every day made me itch for a creative outlet with clothes. I started to go through my mom’s old clothes, loving what she used to wear and started off by wearing her old clothes from the 70’s and 80’s. Of course everyone looked at me funny but I was too happy to have what I considered “art I could wear” to care. The sentimentality of wearing her old clothes further fueled my appreciation for vintage clothing as I could happily fantasize about her old life in Europe long before I was born. Then I got obsessed and started collecting vintage from wherever I could go, daydreaming about pretty dresses and their previous owners from there on out. I was lucky to have a wonderful position as a buyer at a vintage clothing boutique in college and I had an amazing boss and amazing coworkers who taught me how to identify vintage brands, fabrics, eras, styles, and many other elements that I consider invaluable. I now know how to identify a vintage brand by the era just by looking at the seam or fabric, no label required!

Do you have any collections of your own?

S: Absolutely! I have a pretty big closet full of vintage frocks that mean the world to me. I was going through my summer dresses the other day and noticed that I have a hefty collection of ‘Lanz’ Vintage dresses in beautiful floral prints. I love girly, feminine dresses.

J: I have a really small but special collection of high quality, leather men’s vintage shoes ranging from brogues to loafers and they are all perfectly broken in.

Is etsy your sole source of income?

J: At the moment, no, but we are hoping to expand the store to where we can live off of our profits being generated from Etsy. We are certain this is still a few years out, but we are totally committed to making the store bigger and better!

Do you use social media to enhance your success on Etsy and if so, how?

S: Definitely! We have a Facebook page at Capsule Vintage where we post photos of new items, feature pieces, behind-the-scenes sort of photos and other important news to inform our readers with. We also have an Instagram account, capsulevintage_etsy, where we have had even more luck reaching out to people. On there we post lots of photos of our daily life—yummy vegan food, our beloved pug, Oliver, flea market adventures, etc.—which I feel really connects us with our followers in a more intimate, thoughtful way. Posting glimpses into our daily work life brings a fun, human element to the store that Etsy itself lacks in. Plus, instagram customers get 10% off when they shop! So, follow us on there!
mellow yellow
What has been your biggest Etsy success and your biggest Etsy fail?

J: The biggest overall success we have had is simply having such a positive response since opening the store, through feedback, fans, etc. Every time a customer is happy with their order is another success for the store! Luckily we have not yet had any major fails—just a couple silly misspelled words here and there on the listings that sound pretty funny when I go back to read them.

What are your favorite places to score vintage treasures?

S: We love to scavenge for vintage just about anywhere! Vintage stores, thrift shops, flea markets—we are lucky to live in the Bay Area where finding great vintage is almost always within arm’s reach.
dress and steamer

What is a typical day like working for yourself as a seller on Etsy?

J: A typical day involves getting out there and looking for beautiful vintage. We see a lot of vintage pieces every day but it takes more work to find those great gems that I know the Etsy world can love and appreciate. Then we will come home and photograph, edit, and post! Often we get into a creative mood and dedicate a few hours to making cool tags and fun packaging for the sold items as we love to have our customers to get their items delivered in a beautiful way.
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cv office
Do you get a lot of repeat business and if so what keeps your customers coming back?

S: Being a new store we have only had one repeat customer so far, but she absolutely loves our items and always buys in bulk! We have even done a few custom orders for her previously before we came up with the “dream dress” post. I think having repeat customers involves not only a pleasant experience all the way through the transaction, but also being able to listen to the customer, understand their needs and desires, and communicating effectively. We love to keep the customer informed every step of the way until they have the goodies in their arms!

What is your favorite era for vintage things? Why?

S: I personally love 1950’s dresses, 60’s and 70’s blouses, 80’s leather skimmers and 40’s suits and blazers. So classy and timeless. I have a personal arsenal of vintage frocks and wear a dress pretty much every day. Living in the Bay Area we have chilly weather a lot of the time so a vintage dress, wool cardigan and leather flats are my go-to. I love these eras because the cuts, shapes, quality and fabrics were beyond perfect and that they can survive all this time and still put up with me wearing them into the ground makes me love them even more!

Favorite fashion icon?

S: I love Jackie O, so much. My favorite days are when I put together an ensemble that looks just like something she would have worn. I even have a really special pair of 1950’s Jack Rogers peep-toe sandal wedges that are a very, very similar model to ones she had worn. They are near and dear to my heart. Other vintage loving and wearing ladies are also always a constant source of inspiration.


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