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 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 400,000 followers (and counting). "It all began as a promise I made to my parents in South Africa [where she was born and raised] to get them over to the UK for a visit," says Mia. "I couldn't afford it but bought the plane tickets anyway, which pushed me towards making money through the clothes I was already buying."
Scroll through Mia's Instagram and you get a strong sense of her personal style: the '70s. "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 laughs. "Everything about the '70s is so exciting: it's bold and colourful, the people were eccentric and unafraid to express their individuality." Who are her go-to sartorial inspirations? "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 colours – 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'."
At first, Mia couldn't let go of the treasure trove of pieces she 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 9-5 as a teacher and would spend "Saturdays shopping and Sundays shooting content in my flat". As with most self-starters, Mia's shop was a DIY 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 Mia's success. While it's hard to go awry with a Bowie-inspired suit or Jagger-esque flamboyant shirts, Mia 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." From her heavy-cut fringe and kohl-rimmed eyes to the cheese plants in retro pots in the background, Mia embodies her brand.
What does an average day running Madseventies look like now? "I steam 10-15 garments which I'll style, model and shoot throughout the day, which is Depop content for the week. At the weekends I'll go shopping – everywhere from car boot sales and vintage warehouses to charity shops." Mia 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. That seems to be the appeal of Madseventies: you're not just buying another item of clothing, you're buying a slice of the '70s from someone who knows their stuff.
So what are Mia's tips and tricks for running a successful online shop? Click through for words of advice on knowing quality vintage when you see it, how to manage your buyers, and getting tip-offs from warehouses.