BAW stands for: Badass Woman
This is a new interview series I am starting on my blog tonight where I’ll be profiling women makers from around the world. If you think you’d be great for this series please use my contact page to send me a note. I’d love to talk.
Our first interview is with Cierra Blaufus who currently runs a thrift shop on her Instagram page, oopsiedaesy. I hope you enjoy our interview. I know I did!
Haley Sherif: How did you get into the thrifting business?
Cierra Blaufus: I basically grew up in Goodwill– my mom was a HUGE lover of secondhand everything. She was (and still is) one of my biggest inspirations for repurposing, refurbishing, and restyling hidden gems from thrift stores. We always daydreamed and talked of starting up a business, selling the things we found and recreated, but for a long time, it remained a daydream because… life happens. After having to drop out of college, I became a full-time nanny for an incredible family of entrepreneurs. They became my mentors in almost every aspect of life, personal and business! I’ve been with them for going on three years and that type of positive influence really turned my life around and helped direct me on the path that feels true and right!
From a pretty young age, I’ve always been interested in style and fashion. My sense of style has definitely molded and changed over the years: from a funky middle schooler pairing a tutu I salvaged from an old Halloween costume with one of my dad’s old Mickey Mouse neckties, to a now 21-year-old with a vintage-inspired wardrobe. I’ve always found joy and excitement in getting ready and putting outfits together. I see style and fashion as the greatest form of self-expression and I love that everyone has their own direction in that. After working in retail for a while, I realized that some people have a hard time determining what they want to wear and what will look good together. Putting that aspect together with my love of vintage clothing and styling, I decided to try my hand at selling the treasures I find through different selling platforms!
HS: Why did you choose Instagram as your business platform?
CB: I initially started my ventures on Depop, a reselling platform where you can sell virtually anything from your closet or home. It was an amazing platform to start on and helped me to understand and learn the basics of selling, customer service, and shipping techniques. As I started to get more serious about my shop, I realized that I wanted more out of the experience. I didn’t want to just sell clothing to random people on the internet; I wanted a community. I’ve been on Instagram since it was first created– the perks of growing up in the social media revolution– so I knew how it worked. Instagram inspires me to create and style more, and the features allow more opportunity to interact with potential customers and friends. Taking to Instagram for selling was a step I took to encourage myself to start selling 100% independently, without any other reselling platforms necessary. I’m still on a few other selling platforms, but I hope and plan to grow my shop enough to be able to launch a website this year with enough traffic flow to support myself and my shop!
HS: Who introduced thrifting to you? What is one of your more memorable thrifted/vintage finds?
CB: As I mentioned before, my mom who is the Queen Bee of thrifting. Seriously, give that woman $5 to redecorate your entire house, and she’ll make it happen. We used to take “thrift days” on the weekend, where we’d travel up to two hours to visit a Goodwill out of town that we’d never been to. The beauty of thrift stores is that EVERY store is different. It’s magical really. Some stores have loads of rare vintage items, others have super unique home decor. It’s hard to choose the most memorable because I’ve thrifted almost every single item in my life, from furniture to shoes, since being introduced to thrifting, but there are a few that stand out. The one that I think is my favorite, in relation to clothing, is actually a piece that I currently have in my shop! It’s a handmade 1950s cherry red evening gown that I’m completely head over heels in love with. On the rack at goodwill, it was a piece that could EASILY be passed over, as I’m sure it had been dozens of time. Sometime’s its hard to see the potential in a piece when it’s hanging sadly on a plastic hanger. Luckily, I took the time to pull it out an inspect it a bit and found that not only was it a beautiful, authentic vintage piece, but it fell so beautifully on an actual person and not just a hanger!
HS: How long has it taken you to build your business?
CB: I started reselling online in February of 2018, but didn’t get serious about it until about mid-April of that year. I’m still nowhere near where I’d like to be, and I believe that there is always more you can build upon. It’s taken a lot of work to get where I am, and it’s going to take a lot more to get where I want, but I’m so excited to see where I’m going to take this year!
CB: When I’m not working on my business, I’m a full-time live-in nanny! I live in a separate studio, so I have a nice area for my inventory and workspace. I’m going to be 100% transparent– my days are insane, and I’m working on balance at the moment. There are so many things that I want and need to do and when I try to do it all, it gets a little… hectic. On my crazy busy days, I wake up around 7:00-8:00 a.m. and try to meditate before I do anything in order to start my day in the right mindset. Once I meditate for around 10-20 minutes, I take a look at my daily planner to see what I have planned for the day. This is usually work on my phone or computer to check any sales or messages from customers and things I need to catch up on that I didn’t get to the night before: graphics, photo editing, captions, updating spreadsheets, etc. Then, I make sure to set out the packages I scheduled for pick-up the night before so that I don’t forget and the mail person doesn’t hate me.
This is all before I head in to hang out with a high energy toddler. When I’m on nanny duty, I have the responsibility of allergy-free meal prep, educational curriculum planning, and various housework duties. I’m usually off by either 3:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. depending on the day. On the days I get off in the afternoon, I take the small amount of sunlight I have left to capture inventory in natural lighting. Capturing usually takes around 1-3 hours, depending on how many pieces I’m capturing. I’ve been catching up with inventory lately so recapturing has been my largest task. After photos, I focus on my social media activity and any research I need to do for an idea I’ve been working on. It’s crazy how much you have to learn when you’re running your own business, but I love having the opportunity to grow and educate myself so often!
If I have any packages that need to go out, I package up those pieces and get them ready for shipment the following day. Packaging is one of my least favorite parts of the job. Being an in-recovery perfectionist, it’s incredibly frustrating to try to get through five packages within an hour.
I aim to finish my work by 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., but I’m honestly a workaholic and sometime’s stay up until 2:00 a.m. hustling out my to-do list. This is not healthy and I don’t recommend this to anyone, but I genuinely enjoy working. I’m slowly learning to pace myself and realize when I need to move on to something else. Before I finish my day, I plan my time and to-do list for the following morning and clean up the mess I made earlier in the day moving inventory, styling outfits, and taking notes.
I’m naturally a night owl and tend to have a pretty late bedtime. Once I’m done working, I try to take time for myself like working out, doing yoga, or watching Netflix. I try to put my phone down 30 minutes before bed, or I’ll work indefinitely.
Then I wake up and do it all over again!
The most important part of thrifting is finding things that speak to you. Let your heart lead you!
CB: In the past, I’ve bought both current brand and vintage inventory. Buying brands that are produced today is a different search than looking for vintage. Both of which require a lot of research and a specific eye, but definitely have different criteria. This year I’m phasing out a lot of brand name inventory and trying to stick to predominately vintage clothing because I’ve realized it’s something that I enjoy finding and selling TONS more. In the past, I’ve bought name brand because it was something that everyone knew, but wasn’t something that I truly enjoyed or wanted to style. On the other hand, vintage pieces spark so much excitement and creativity. It’s a piece of history from the past that you can bring to the present with a new twist.
At thrift stores, I look through every piece on a rack. This is incredibly time consuming, but so important to the process. Because vintage items can be easily overlooked, it’s important to be specific and not just skim through the racks. Initially, I look for something that grabs my attention– maybe a style I like, or a pattern or color that pops! If something gives me momentary pause or second-look, I make sure to take the time to pull it off the rack to get a good look because you never know what could be hiding.
This is when the magic happens.
Pulling a piece from the rack that struck my attention usually gets my wheels turning. If it’s a top or bottoms, I start visualizing pieces that are either already in my inventory that it would pair well with or a general idea of how I could style that piece. Luckily, I never felt restricted to just one type of style that I had to stick to. On Monday I feel like wearing an all-black outfit with a leather jacket and on Thursday I’m sporting a bubble-gum pink mini skirt. I think this flexibility allows me to vividly see an array of possibilities for pieces that I take off of the rack.
I usually check the tags and stitching to help me guestimate the era it was made in order to open another metaphoric brain door for styling ideas and options. My favorite pieces are handmade from the ’40s-’70s because they are not only unique but usually exquisite pieces that lived a full, beautiful life before your discovery of them.
CB: I’ve never intentionally stuck with one specific aesthetic. I always thought it was too constricting. I did, however, go through phases to help me grow and find what I truly enjoyed wearing and how I liked expressing myself best.
In high school, I experimented with short, colorful hair and radical style. It was initially pretty androgynous and punk-esque with girly flare-ups.
Over time, I’ve started to prefer a more feminine look and now I’m a diehard dress and heels fan.
CB: Keep an open mind! Some pieces can surprise you. There are endless ways to style an item and first impressions aren’t always true to the potential of a piece. If you’re looking for vintage items, do your research and be patient for those hidden treasures. Thrift stores are full of so many goodies, but sometimes it can take a while to find them hidden among the endless brands.
The most important part of thrifting is finding things that speak to you. Let your heart lead you.