Dazey Lady Feature: Victoria of Wallflower SF and Her New Collection!
Victoria reached out to me on Instagram awhile back and we met up for drinks. When you meet a fellow small business owner you instantly have a million things in common so we clicked right away! I was familiar with her storefront, Wallflower, in San Francisco's popular and ultra-hip Mission District. Wallflower is a magical place filled with the most gorgeous vintage, handpicked by Victoria herself. She lives in LA specifically to focus on buying the best vintage and sends it up to her store in SF!
Victoria's outfits are always so put together and freaking adorable so it was no shock to me when she decided to start her own line that the pieces were equally amazing. She began wearing them out and about earlier this summer and I knew I had to have them in the DL shop as soon as they were released! I love seeing friends embark on new exciting, adventures, and it's even better when I can play some sort of part in it.
We met up at Victoria's adorable Hollywood apartment to shoot the collection for this feature. She's the queen of vintage, not only in fashion but decor as well! Her place was the perfect backdrop to shoot these gorgeous pieces. I threw on a few too and we did some self timer shots haha!
Below we have a full Q & A with the boss babe behind the brand. We have also included some photos of her storefront which she runs with the help of her business partner pictured below as well!
What was your journey up until starting wallflower? College and jobs right before?
I mainly went to school for Fine Art, majoring in Printmaking at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Before that I dabbled in Business at American University and Art History at MMC in NYC. Never really happy with where I was, I made the move to San Francisco without ever having visited, and ended up falling in love with it. I quit college when I was 20 or 21 and lived and worked in the city for a few years, modeling for live drawing classes and other random jobs as I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself or the direction my life would take, but I knew I wanted to be in SF and would do what it took to stay. When I was 23 I met an amazing man who I married a month later, and we lived in my tiny studio apartment in SF together creating and developing our craft- he was a photographer and a graphic designer so it really helped to be with someone so creative and kind to help me figure out what my next steps were and how to tackle that. That year I decided that I was going to go back to school for Visual Merchandising to get a proper degree and a proper job, and eventually open a store. However, the thought of taking out another loan for almost 40k was just too much to handle, and instead I said f*ck it, I’ll figure it out on my own. I started selling vintage online, styling and shooting etc and through the power of Instagram I got my first job at Belljar- a local boutique that I loved. From there I spent a year and a half doing everything from store remerch- clothing, jewelry, art, clothes, and decor- to making handmade window displays that took 40+ hours each time, and really got to learn how to make things look good in every aspect of a store. I got knowledge of installation, a few power tools, ladders, and those basics of shop maintenance.
So you started with a small space before moving into your current location. Would love to hear about how you began there!
While I was still working at Belljar an opportunity opened up in a friend’s shop and I jumped on it. My neighbor owned a vintage furniture store that was very large and they were looking for someone to come in and basically rent the back room to drive sales and take some of the burden of overhead of running a giant shop in the Mission off of them. However the back room was totally thrashed and needed some serious work, so I got down to it. Literally everything that could go wrong went wrong haha. I think it took me at least 6 weeks to renovate the space and build it out- sanding, painting, cleaning, replacing floor boards and electrical, etc. I wallpapered nooks and built racks, I turned the world’s most terrifying closet into a dreamy little dressing room, and I learned how to do everything by doing it and figuring it out as I went along.
Moving into a shop in such a popular and high cost area must have been scary! Tell us how you found your current location.
For a year at the first space I was in the shop 5-6 days a week, leaving the house at 9am every morning to do all the buying and then lugging all my bags to the shop without a car, steaming and prepping clothes, tagging, making orders, merchandising, helping customers, managing payments, posting on Instagram all day long and leaving around 7 or 8pm at night. The shop was doing really well, people were loving it, and I wanted to grow it and get out of the back of another store basically. I wanted to have full control over all the elements, and at 26 I thought I now had the experience to execute that. When I found the space around that Christmas, it was yet again a turd and a half lol. Only someone as crazy as me would take a space that needed a TON of work, including a new floor, walls, electrical, the works. But hey, I had already done that once so why not again. The biggest issue was that it was four times the size of the old store and I was one small person already doing everything on my own seven days a week. I reached out to my manager at BJ who I had been working with for almost two years and who I adored, and asked if she wanted to partner up and help me make Wallflower a real live Valencia street store!
But back to the question, yes very scary. We did the most intense construction on another insane timeline- six weeks- and if anything had gone we would have been screwed. We didn’t have a huge loan, we didn’t have a huge budget for build out, and we did as much of the work ourselves that we could. I was back at the wallpaper game haha. I almost asphyxiated myself making glitter walls for the dressing rooms LOL. But it looks beautiful so it’s all good. The fact is that if you want to be making sales in-store on a daily basis that support you, you need to be in a high traffic area and therefore have high traffic problems like ever-expanding overhead, taxes, crazies, people stealing, construction next door, anything you can think of we’ve seen. Though thankfully no one has pooped in my planters so I still consider that a huge win.
You sell online and in stores. What would you say are some major differences between the two?
I’ve always loved having a store and getting to create an amazing space that people can experience visually and fall in love with. Having an online store is similar in a need to tell a story, but also relies on so many other technical elements in addition to visuals that can be way more intimidating for me! I guess I’m more of an in-person shopper, I like to shop for things by looking at them and touching them and trying them on, but know tons of girls who shop exclusively online so everyone is different!
What's the scariest thing about starting your own business?
I wouldn’t say it’s a scary thing at all to be honest. For me, working in an office is terrifying. Using my creative talents and ideas to build something for someone else, not being able to say what I want to say, those things are scary. I’ve always been fine working as hard as I can because I know those other jobs aren’t options for me. If you can’t take orders, you have to get good at what you do fast.
What got you interested in vintage clothing? What do you look for when buying?
I always loved vintage, the aesthetic of well made garments and decor, the patterns and prints. I also married a super 70’s dude and our style melded into one, a lot of mustard in that closet. He took me to my first flea market and I was like hmmm I don’t know about all this!! But every week we would go, and take so little money, maybe $40 or $60 for us both to spend, and take home all our treasure on the bus! We became pros, living for Sunday morning haha and that’s when I started selling online after learning by osmosis what was rare and coveted and cute and in good shape and the value of it all. Now I pick based on everything from size, style, condition, time period, color, and fabric content. After 2.5 years on Valencia and another year before that of being the only buyer for a store you just learn what sells and what doesn’t, and of course I still take into account what I love and what are flattering shapes that our customers keep coming back for.
Your store is in San Francisco and you live in LA! What's your reasoning behind that and do you find it difficult?
I moved to LA a little over a year ago mainly to pursue our Wallflower line. The vintage game has gotten way more competitive, the best pieces are way more rare, and we wanted to use our experience and reputation for having the best colors, styles, fabrics, and prints to create what was getting harder and harder to find- quality garments. It is difficult, I still do all the vintage buying and process and ship every item up to SF in boxes for the girls to unpack and tag there. I go up every 6 weeks or so to help with remerchandising the store, any creative or construction-related projects, do new window displays, drive up product, do photoshoots, etc.
I was also fresh out of my divorce last year and was working 7 days a week and just worn out from the stress of it all, so I needed to make a change and get some sunshine and some personal space in my life to stay creative and inspired. San Francisco has become unaffordable to live in- even as a business owner and decently successful human- and after almost 10 years there I said goodbye, packed my bags and moved South.
You have a business partner, what are some of the advantages of that?
My business partner is the best person there ever was. We are both very lucky because we balance out each other perfectly, and each do very different roles in the company so there is not any weirdness or competition internally. Where I do the creative- buying and designing/production, Lindsey does logistics, manages the shop which is open 7 days a week including training our staff, accounting, scheduling, consignors, bills etc. She is also a great seller and who I learned to sell from way back in the day! She is super positive and great with customers, and we have a perfect Pisces/Virgo dynamic going on. The advantage is that we both get to focus instead of trying to do both creative and logical tasks which divides your brain and your attention away from what you’re best at and your long term goals.
Wallflower just launched it's very own in-house line! Would love to hear the process of how you went about designing and producing the collection as someone who is new to cut & sew.
Yes! Literally a year ago I had no knowledge of how clothes were manufactured in LA or the process at all. From picking and processing garments, I have experience with the clothes themselves, how and why they fit and look good etc, but not technical book learning lol. I’ve learned a TON since starting, but still go on my deepest instincts when it comes to design. I worked with a friend to get started who introduced me to my pattern maker, but soon I realized I was accidentally doing all the work I had hired her to do, and loved just working with him and it was easier to do that directly than involve a third person’s input and direction and schedule into the mix. After the first collection I did a lot of troubleshooting for the next one and was able to identify things I would do differently for moving ahead with design and production. Once you get a handle on your timeline and where to buy all your pieces of the puzzle, it’s all good.
What is your collection inspired by?
Wallflower has always been about catering to awesome chicks who are also on a budget, and proving you don’t have to have a ton of money to have great style. The perfect fit, color and pattern have always been our focus so making sure that stays true is our top priority.
What's next for wallflower?! The storefront and collection!
We are currently working on capsule collections for next year and beyond!! Our pre-fall collection was so well received that we are running more of our amazing cropped pants (which I’m personally stoked on because I want them in every color lol). Get ready for metallics especially, as we meditate on color stories that will blow your whole mind!
What does being a Dazey Lady mean to you?
I’ve been a big fan of Dazey for a while, especially because I know how hard it is to start a business on your own. Here was this very young girl putting herself out there for the cause, using her experience to help other women solve the mysteries of Instagram, algorithms, Illustrator, all the tidbits that people usually keep to themselves, and I just loved her instantly. Being a Dazey Lady is like being a part of an awesome girl squad who help each other and build on each other’s greatness instead of competing and being catty or negative. They are all doing amazing things and Dani has built a great community just by being herself and being creative and inquisitive and kind. In the fashion industry that’s a very difficult thing to find so I have nothing but respect and love for Dazey and all the Dazey Lady squad!