I opened a second store!
I just opened my second retail location (Club Vintage LA), and the post-event feelings are worth putting into words. The run up to any big launch is actually a very zen state. I have a task list, I have people working for me that have tasks lists, and checking the boxes is the only priority. Are the racks built, has the inventory arrived, do we need a drink sponsor, have the invites gone out, do the vendors have what they need to promote, etc. Nothing is abstract, everything is concrete and just needs to be taken care of. Even staging all of the furniture and clothing in the store comes easily, I’m in flow state. There’s no room for existential crises because whatever happens happens and we did our best. And, honestly, the opening weekend was fantastic in both feelings and finances.
Once the party is over, the shop is up-and-running and the schedule is staffed, I’m left with empty hands and the checklist becomes amorphous: How do I want Club Vintage to be seen? How do we reach more people and maintain our integrity? Are we working in service of our vendors in a way that is also financially viable? And the big selfish one: Am I happy?
The expected feeling post successful launch is of elation and pride. Once I’m no longer exhausted, I usually feel a complicated mix of delight and something akin to dread because I know that what’s coming next is, “now what?” Is this all normal? No idea. We’re all different, we don’t have to find commonality in experiences for everything. But for the sake of doing what is inherently human, these feelings can probably be categorized as those of an Ambitious Person.
Thus the spiral of “what is ambition?” begins to eddy and I am disappointed in (and bored by) my automatic subservience to capitalist intent: how can it be bigger, better, and when will it be so big and great (isn’t it weird that there isn’t a non-comparative adjective for “better”?) that I can just have a quiet brain? The easiest string of thought to tug on is, “oh, when this much money is made, I will be a success and I can rest” but every study ever done tell us this is not the metric by which to live our lives. Though there are correlations between prosocial behaviors and happiness, these do require some expendable income. Plus, I think the money string is too easy, too reductive and likely not true.
Look, don’t get me wrong. I am very pleased to be the owner of a bicoastal business built on sustainable practices and thoughtful consumerism. I’m proud to hire talented, smart people, support vendors that are incredible at finding beautiful used things, and to operate a platform that is exactly in-line with what I want the world of fashion and design to look like. But this newsletter is for exploring the complicated sewer system that lurks beneath the congratulations and perfect pictures that so many of us are reduced to. Also honesty is interesting. So is my half-formed style of writing that leaves many open-ended questions. I can’t help it; if I start writing once the thoughts are fully formed I’ll never hit publish because the problem will be, you know, solved.
I will say that store number two was a lot easier to open than store number one and I am impressed with myself. No problem arose that wasn’t easily handled because I’d done it before. The existential crises will always be there (to have them is a privilege after all) but perhaps the self-doubt dissipates. Or redirects. When I’m feeling insecure and less adept at using the right words, I’ll say things like “Do you think I’m insane?” for opening another store, for hiring more people, for orchestrating bigger, weirder ideas. But it’s not crazy and I don’t know what else to do. This is the direction my ideas take me and it would be a disservice to myself to stay small and take the easy route. 2024 we’ll have four Club Vintages!!! Why not. One synonym for ambition is design.
After the pay wall is my list of Things I Would Buy because, oddly, these search results feel more proprietary than my written thoughts. There’s a fold-out sofa and a lot of options for wedding guests interested in dresses.
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