11 Industry Superstars Every Vintage Lover Should Know

It's no secret that we're huge fans of vintage here at Refinery29. In fact, we've been spending more and more time searching out the best and brightest experts and vendors for our new shoppable Vintage Across America series. And we certainly didn't come up short.
Turns out, from eBay to Etsy to the depths of the blogosphere, there are amazing, dedicated vintage mavens all across the country. And now, we're happy to introduce you to 11 of them. Click through to get their stories and prepare to feel inspired…whether you're a vintage lover or not.
1 of 11
Name: Amy Yee
Hometown: Chicago
Current city: Brooklyn
Store: Maeven

What inspires you about the place you live?
"I’m in love with Brooklyn; it’s an amazing place and in a state of constant change. There are things going on all the time, with the most talented people across all walks of life residing here. It’s colorful, it’s rich, and there’s history here."

Have any weekend rituals?
"Every weekend my husband and I drive to Atlantic Avenue and Red Hook to stock up on groceries from Sahadi’s and Fairway and visit some of our favorite stores: Holler & Squall for furniture and Erie Basin for jewelry.

What is the most treasured vintage item in your home?
"A vintage tripod lamp I put together from parts. The base is a 1920s surveyor’s tripod that I found in perfect condition at Le Grenier, a great vintage store in Greenpoint, and the hardware is all porcelain."

Any words of wisdom for those interested in getting into the world of vintage retail?
"You know the saying, "Love what you do"? Well, it’s true. I spend basically all of my waking hours on Maeven and vintage. Even if I’m not physically working, you can bet I’m thinking about it. Because I absolutely love what I do, it doesn’t end up feeling like work, which let’s me keep going."

What has been inspiring your vintage hunts lately?
"It’s the other way around – shopping for vintage inspires me. Being able to see the connections in trends, designs, textures, and materials is fascinating."

Shop Amy's hand selected vintage pieces in her Vintage Across America shop on R29!

Photo: Courtesy of Amy Yee
2 of 11
Name: Jennifer Collins
Hometown: New Jersey
Current city: Manhattan
Website: PinkClouds

What year did your start PinkClouds?
"[In] 2010."

You have a fantastic collection of vintage designer available on your site — what else are you really proud of right now?
"We have really focused on building PinkClouds’s magazine, The Find Notebook, as a resource for vintage news and fashion history. Our content editor, Maria Echeverri, has a master’s degree in History of Fashion and is constantly researching the connection between past and current trends."

What's been inspiring your vintage hunts lately?
"I think everyone is having a dual punk/Gatsby moment right now, so it’s hard to not see that influencing our work. I’m a sucker for the late '60s/'70s designers though, who really started experimenting with synthetic fabrics in a unique way. Have you seen the Stephen Burrows show at MCNY? It’s heaven."

Any secrets to success?
"You’ll never work as hard as you do for yourself, but it will never feel as rewarding. As far as retail and vintage, I think it’s a small world that appreciates expertise, so I think that a good foundation will take you quite far. As with everything though, you have to have a real passion to get you over the humps."

What are some of the highlights of working in this industry?
"Vintage is about discovery — open eyes and open mind, and you'll come across the most amazing hidden treasures. Some of my happiest moments have come from breathing new life into these beautifully crafted items, and I want to share that with as wide an audience as possible. Each piece in our archive steals a little bit of my heart when it's sold. I love finding a home for these works of art, but sometimes I wish I could keep and wear them all!"

Photographed by Anna Voldachinski
3 of 11
Name: Anja Verdugo
Hometown: British Columbia
Current city: Portland
Store: Clever Nettle

Have a go-to, feel-great outfit or item in your closet?
"I like short dresses paired with a good necklace (my personal talismans) and super-comfy platform sneakers. They make me feel ready for whatever."

Have you been zeroing in on a specific decade lately?
"I've been inspired by avant-garde '90s wear, but also Japanese Manga covers and unusual prints from all decades."

We love your daring style. Is there anything you wouldn't wear?
"Kitten heels. Cutest name, worst shoe."

What is it about vintage that you like so much?
"I like being surprised by unexpected, one-of-a-kind pieces, so vintage hunting is always pretty satisfying. Sourcing vintage for Clever Nettle is a way for me to experiment with my evolving fashion interests without overstuffing my closet."

Any fellow boutique mavens you're a fan of?
"I really admire what Hana Ryan Wilson is doing with her web boutique, Craft & Culture. The site features amazing fashion and supports independent designers in a legit way. I respect that so much; it's much more rare than you might think."

Shop Anja's hand-selected vintage pieces in her Vintage Across America shop on R29!

Photo: Courtesy of Anja Verdugo
4 of 11
Name: Holly Ross
Hometown: Long Island
Current city: Syracuse / Out Of A Suitcase
Store: Thriftwares

What prompted the move to Syracuse?
"I moved to Syracuse after living in NYC for a while to be able to travel much more freely. I'm away far more than I am home traveling the U.S. for the next best vintage piece."

Where was your last really awesome vintage score?
"An amazing estate that entailed over five racks of vintage Chanel."

Is there anyone who inspires you?
"The countless older women's closets that I've had the honor of picking from. The stories they have told me about their lives, the wisdom they have shared with me, and most importantly, the memories that came along with the clothes. These meetings constantly remind me to live life to match the dress."

If you had to wear just one designer forever, who would it be?
"It's a tie between vintage Halston and Missoni."

Why do you think you were drawn to the vintage industry?
"I grew up thrifting all the time because we didn't have a lot of money growing up. The thrift stores were packed with gems on Long Island when I was a teenager, and it was a great way to feed my love of fashion on about $10 an outfit! I still love the feeling of finding something I've yet to see in my nine years in the business."

Photographed by Marissa Matluck
5 of 11
Name: Carmen Ruiz-Davila
Hometown: Barcelona
Current city: New York
Store: Devorado Designer Vintage

Tell us about your recent move to Manhattan
"I recently moved from Greenpoint to the East Village when I opened my store on East 9th Street. Seems to be the opposite of what a lot of people are doing. I was a little worried to leave Brooklyn, but the East Village has become one of my favorite neighborhoods. You can still find small, independent stores with people doing creative things, which is very inspiring. Also, there are people who have lived here for decades, especially on my block, and I love hearing their stories."

What are some of your favorite local haunts?
"I'm addicted to sweets, so Puddin and Alphabet Scoop are a weekly visit. On weekends I head back to Brooklyn for brunch — El Almacen in Williamsburg is my favorite. The en cazuela will blow you away! On another note, I could spend an entire day at Doyle and Doyle. They have a gorgeous collection of antique and estate jewelry."

Could you give us the scoop on a recent vintage score?
"I purchased a vintage pearl and rhinestone cuff belonging to a dancer from the Folies Bergère in Paris at Au Grenier de Lucie, a store filled with designer vintage Lacroix, Schiaparelli, Miriam Haskell, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and rare French finds."

Any words of wisdom for those interested in opening their own store?
"It's important in any business to distinguish yourself from your competitors and offer something unique as well as of quality. Also follow your instincts — it's important to listen to constructive criticism but it's even more important to be able to filter."

Shop Carmen's hand-selected vintage pieces in her Vintage Across America shop on R29!

Photographed by Sarah Balch
6 of 11
Name: Dree Harper
Hometown: Seattle
Current city: St. Petersburg in sunny Florida!
Website: Create That Style

How did you get to where you are today, a stylist and personal shopper with expertise in vintage shopping?
"I began working as a stylist in my early 20s in Seattle. That evolved into owning my own vintage clothing site as well as becoming an on-air fashion expert for HSN. That then branched off into becoming a personal shopper, sourcing amazing vintage pieces for my clients in the most unexpected places."
After I had my son in 2009, I retired my online vintage business and started Create That Style to keep a dialogue going with the fashion industry but it's Pinterest projects and consulting work that keeps me on my toes. There is always something new, which I prefer."

What inspires you about where you live?
I moved to Florida in 2003 with an ex-boyfriend. I never lived by the beach so I thought, why not? I love where I live because of the sunshine as well as the endless nearly untouched sources for vintage! Flea markets, garage and estate sales, thrift shops, antique stores, vintage boutiques. I mean, it's endless!"

What is your most treasured vintage item?
Hands down, my dad's gold Seiko watch that I helped my mother pick out over 25 years ago. He passed away six months ago, and I wear it almost every day."

Is there a trend or no-fail accessory you always gravitate toward?
"One thing that seems to carry over from my Pinterest inspiration boards into my vintage picking is gold. Jewelry, handbag hardware, sunglasses. I'll never grow tire of gold!"

Any great fashion industry run-ins?
"I recently met Tory Burch and was quite surprised she knew who I was after choosing her as a "Pinterest Star of the Week" for a project I did with Refinery29. She was genuinely sweet and appreciative, and when someone like that (who is the head of a huge fashion enterprise) takes the time to recognize the little relationships, that to me is the sign of a well-run company. It's the difference between the elitist and humble, and the impact she had on me in that moment is quite memorable."

Why vintage? What makes it special to you?
"Craftsmanship. I can spend $100 on something vintage and own a beautifully made piece, rather than an all-too-often, new, cheaply made garment. I like my money to be spent wisely and have a tightly edited closet, so it's always a bonus when something is added that I know will stand the test of time. Secondly, creativity. Finding a vintage piece and reworking it in a relevant way, whether through tailoring or styling is a creative process that keeps things fun for me. Without this part of my craft, I'd be one uninspired woman. Not to mention, grumpy."

Photo: Courtesy of Dree Harper
7 of 11
Name: Kristin Parker
Hometown: Houston
Current City: Austin
Store: Recollection Vintage

Top-five current inspirations — go!
"Space, Art Deco, silent films, a really well-tailored piece, Alexander Wang for Balenciaga."

Is there anything you would never ever wear?
"Nineties, denim hip-huggers! They cut off at the widest part of your midsection, but then again I would happily stand behind a pair of Tom Ford Velvet hip huggers."

Is there anyone in the industry you've had a great experience collaborating with?
"I’ve had such good experiences with the small team that I’ve sort of amassed over the past year since launching Recollection Vintage. I work with two really great photographers, Erica Segovia and Chelsea Von Peacock. You may have seen some of their work in Rookie magazine. They are young photographers and have such a strong vision and knack for drama, which I love. We collaborate together on all of our lookbook shoots, as well as the branding for the company, and we are constantly inspiring one another."

Any secrets to success or words of wisdom now that you've been at it for a year?
"Oh, my. This has been the most taxing, nerve-wracking, but rewarding, journey ever. When you start a small businesses there is so much that you have to do yourself that would never have previously occurred to you. I’ve had to learn so many new skill sets, and it can be overwhelming. The best advice I can give someone is just to jump in head first, because you can really paralyze yourself via analysis otherwise. Get a really good feel for your potential industry and see what you can do better or differently than anyone. Most of all, believe in yourself. Surround yourself with people who will inspire, support and comfort you. If you are lucky, they can offer direction, focus and guidance, or just a shoulder to cry on when you feel lost, anxious, or overwhelmed."

Shop Kristin's hand-selected vintage pieces in her Vintage Across America shop on R29!

Photo: Courtesy of Kristin Parker
8 of 11
Name: Maresa Ponitch
Hometown: Portland, by way of Scottsdale
Current City: Brooklyn
Store: Dusty Rose Vintage

When did you start your business?
"I’ve been wholesaling since 2006, but started Dusty Rose Vintage in 2008. I have a blog, Etsy shop, and a vintage warehouse in Greenpoint soon to be open to the public in June. As a pre-celebration of the opening I'm hosting a clothing swap party Thursday, May 30th at the warehouse, stop by!"

Why did you move to New York from Portland?
"I was offered a job wholesaling vintage out of a factory in Brooklyn. I moved to Greenpoint in 2006 and immediately fell in love. New York is inspiring because it attracts the innovative and the brave."

What is your vintage shopping strategy?
"I rarely hunt with something in mind. When I shop for vintage I just wait until the right piece appears. I’m usually drawn to things that are a little different or are beautiful quality. When working, my clothes come to me about 2,000 pounds at a time, so I have fun making collections for my clients. I love attacking a giant pile and separating it into categories that make sense and look great together on a rack."

What is the most treasured vintage item in your home?
"It’s a little silly, but the first thing that comes to mind is an antique iron horse door stop. I grew up behind a horse ranch and have always had a special place in my heart for all things equestrian. This kind of stuff sells really well so when I found it, I remember realizing that it would be okay if I kept a few nice things for myself."

Is there anyone in the vintage industry you look up to?
"Laura Wills from Screaming Mimis has been a huge inspiration for me. Her styling has always been visionary, and she was successful in the industry decades before vintage was a mainstream trend."

Any words of wisdom from your years in the industry?
"Start at the bottom because it’s easier to understand all aspects of your business if you work your way up. Don’t be fooled by the over-reported “glamorous” side of fashion — running a business is hard work and requires complete dedication. There will always be people who have something to say about you or your work, especially if you have any sort of online presence, so learn to distinguish between unnecessary negativity and constructive criticism."

Photographed by Sarah Gainer
9 of 11
Name: Janet Sung
Hometown: Palos Verdes Estates
Current city: Los Angeles
Websites: Denim Refinery and Shop Rerun

What do you love about living and working in downtown L.A.?
"Before this, I was working in the showrooms downtown. So, I’ve been in downtown since 2009. It’s the preserved architecture and streets like Broadway and Main that are so inspiring and also very reminiscent of Manhattan. DTLA is still on the cusp of really starting to develop, so there’s a lot going on. It’s a really vibrant place to be right now. There’s a sense of community and the fact that you can walk anywhere doesn’t hurt either."

Any favorite downtown L.A. haunts?
"It’s hard to choose my favorite restaurant, but I love The Parish. It’s a great place to grab an old-fashioned and some small plates with friends. They have the best fried chicken and a delicious kale salad. My favorite spot to shop for anything really is Shareen’s Vintage. Shareen has become an institution over the past decade."

What have you been looking for recently for when sourcing for Denim Refinery and Rerun?
"Definitely a random assortment of things — runway, '80s and '90s hip-hop and athletic wear, kitschiness in general."

Any advice for sourcing great pieces?
"Always stick to your intuition when vintage hunting."

What about vintage speaks to you?
"The beauty of it is in discovering a piece that’s of its own kind. That’s what makes shopping vintage a more intimate experience than purchasing a great find that’s been mass-produced. You found it, and it’s very rare you’ll find someone else with the exact same thing. The wear and history of a vintage garment is also what makes it so comfortable and effortless."

Shop Janet's hand selected vintage pieces in her Vintage Across America shop on R29!

Photo: Courtesy of Janet Sung
10 of 11
Name: Sarah Radcliffe
Hometown: London
Current City: Portland
Store: Yo Vintage!

London to Portland, how did that happen?
"I fell in love, and up sticks from London to Portland to start a new adventure with my boy (now husband) Charlie. Portland is an incredibly inspiring place to live — I honestly don't think I could have started Yo Vintage! anywhere else — everyone I've met along the way have helped me be where I want to be today. There seems to be lots of young creative people starting successful businesses and helping each other — AKVintage, Frances May, Summerland, Lowell, Industry... The mountains, the beer, the live music and food is the added bonus, of course!"

Any recent exciting vintage scores?
"I was invited to a private vintage collector's home and she let me have first pick of clothing she'd been collecting for years — I was honestly having heart palpitations looking through her collection! I walked away with lots of goodies, but my favorite was a black silk dress with billowing layers from the waistline to the floor — she has incredible taste and I'm hoping she'll let me go back when she's ready to let go of more!"

Where do you gather inspiration from?
"I follow tons of street-style photographers on Instagram, so I get lots of inspiration from what people are wearing outside on the streets, but my inspiration really varies from one week to the next though. Much of the time it comes from things I see while I'm vintage hunting. I'll find one amazing piece and I'll theme the rest of my shopping trip or lookbook around that piece. I just found an incredible sheer, structured futurist bomber jacket so I bought the rest of the collection in pale tones and structural shapes that would complement it."

Any good business tips for aspiring vintage sellers?
"Join forces — I did a lot of pop-up shops around Portland in various places (Wieden and Kennedy, hair salons, small boutiques) before going brick-and-mortar. I reached out to other small business owners to see if they wanted to join me — selling their jewelry, bags and accessories or vintage clothes. I was able to expand my customer base this way, too."

Has there been anyone standout who truly helped along the way?
"Before I set up Yo Vintage! I stalked, chatted, and made friends with vintage shop owners in Portland to see what advice they could give me to starting up on my own. I'd not been in Portland very long, so wasn't sure how this would work out but Charlotte who owns Palace let me in and showed me her book keeping, where she sources her vintage, and what hasn't worked for her. It was invaluable help."

If you had to wear just one designer 'til the end of time, who would it be?
"Chloé — all the time, every day. I just love a lady look."

Shop Sarah's hand-selected vintage pieces in her Vintage Across America shop on R29!

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Radcliffe
11 of 11
Name: Misty Guerriero Navon
Hometown: Colorado Springs
Current city: Phoenix
Website: Vintage By Misty

When did you start your business?
"My first foray into the industry was with a vintage interior design shop called The Grand Tour, but in 2010, I traded up into fashion and established Vintage by Misty in downtown Phoenix."

What's your go-to, feel-great outfit?
"A vintage caftan and lots of gold. The desert, sunsets, natural beauty of Arizona and almost year-round great weather inspire how I dress."

What have you had your eye on while vintage hunting lately?
"Vintage vlisco fabric and anything with the essence of Talitha Getty."

Are there any current fashion designers that inspire you?
"Rachel Pally, I have known her from the start of her career, and she is truly an amazing woman. She stays true to her roots and creates collections for any type of woman and all body types — I love that! She also incorporates vintage patterns and has a keen eye for prints.

Photographed by Amir Saebi