How To Turn Your Vintage Obsession Into A Successful Business

Nowadays, there are no rules when it comes to forging your dream career, and turning your vintage obsession into a successful business has to be up there with one of the most fun. London-based Mia Williams, founder of Depop account and blog Madseventies did just that — transforming her weekend trawls of charity shops and vintage markets into a digi-shop with over 400k followers (and counting).

At first, Williams had trouble letting go of the pieces she had accumulated. "I put them in bin bags and stored them under the stairs and in the cupboards — I was becoming a hoarder." When she set up Madseventies, she was working 9 to 5 as a teacher and would spend "Saturdays shopping and Sundays shooting content in my flat." As with most self-starters, her shop was a D.I.Y. affair: "My partner let me paint a wall in our bedroom and build props, and he took the photos." This personal aspect is perhaps the key to her success. While it's hard to go awry with Bowie-inspired suits or Jagger-esque flamboyant shirts, Williams isn't the only '70s seller on the app. So what sets her apart? "I always took it very seriously, building up good reviews and responding to people quickly. But when I linked my shop to my Instagram account, that's when it blew up. I showed ways to style the pieces, and it almost told a little story."

One scroll through Williams' Instagram and you'll get a strong sense of her personal style, which is reflected throughout her shop. "Growing up, my dad only played '60s and '70s records, and when I saw the album sleeves lying around, I just wanted to dress like the people on the cover," she tells Refinery29. "Everything about the '70s is so exciting: it's bold and colorful, and the people were eccentric and unafraid to express their individuality. It's a cliché, but David Bowie and Mick Jagger wore really amazing suits. Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix knew how to lay down crazy clashing colors — it just worked. I also love that the designs weren't separated by gender; there was no 'this is for men, and this is for women.'"

In addition to her Depop store, Williams also runs her blog, which acts as a supporting site, telling the stories of her prized pieces and offering styling tips. Her most recent is a Gucci-inspired story, breaking down the brand's influence and demonstrating how to style clashing textures and prints through a series of photographs. And that's what seems to be the most appealing thing about Madseventies — you're not just buying another item of clothing, you're buying a slice of the '70s from someone who knows their stuff.

Ahead, Williams breaks down her tips for turning your hobby into a full-fledged business.

Be Fun & Flexible
"Don't worry if you don't sell anything that day. Remember: Fashion is fun, and your buyers will know if you start being stressed about your business. Also, if a garment is $30 and someone offers $28, accept it. You want to build up and keep a following, so be flexible in your negotiations."

Monki top, vintage pants, jacket, and shoes, Gucci sunglasses.
Be Your Own Model
"At first, I had all my pieces on hangers and nothing happened. When I started modeling the clothes myself, people could see how I styled it and could compare their height and size to me for reference. They also like to know who they're buying from."

Vintage dress and earrings, Topshop shoes.
Be Responsive
"Depop has become so successful because buyers are there and ready. If people want to know measurements or color clarification, you need to communicate quickly. London is such a fast-paced city people don't have time to wait five days for your response!"

Vintage jacket, bag, and scarf, Gucci sunglasses.
Be Patient
"You need time to go through warehouses and shops, to build relationships with wholesalers, too. I kept going back to one guy and asked him to call me whenever he got a certain type of shirt in."

Vintage top, pants, boots, beret, scarf, and earrings.
Don't Sweat The Competition
"There are so many sellers on Depop now it can be quite competitive. Stay true to yourself. Remember your individuality, and buyers will always come back to you."

Vintage top and pants, ASOS shoes, Gucci sunglasses.
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