Wednesday 28 May 2014

Mind Your Own Business - The Story Behind My Selling Career.

Its too wet for outdoor shots today and as the house is in utter chaos from our festival packing I thought I'd share some photos from last Saturday's Street Food & Flea Market.

The location was the Light House Media Centre in Wolverhampton, former premises of Chubb Locks, in Victorian times the sole supplier of locks to the Post Office and HM Prison Service and designers for a safe case for the Koh-i-Noor diamond for the Great Exhibition.

Despite the atrocious weather (typically the sun came out at closing time) the crowds flocked in and took more money in the first half-hour than we've made all day at some fairs.

We even got papped by the press HERE (they changed my surname and married me off to Jon, blinkin' cheek!)

Just to prove I'm no bandwagon jumper here I am with Mum back in 1991 selling second hand clothes from our market stall.

As a teen I'd go to jumble sales & junk shops and spend my pocket money on period clothes (vintage wasn't a term used then). I built up a huge collection, selling to a lady with a shop in Nottingham who'd advertised in the local paper, making enough money to put a deposit on a flat, open a savings account and leave home.

As a student I supplemented my grant by selling Tootal scarves, tab collared shirts and suede fronted 1960s cardigans to the mods who drank in the pub I worked at. My mum shared my passion for second-hand stuff and we regularly rented a market stall or did indoor car boot sales.

Not too long after I started my corporate hell of a career, jumble sales and charity shops soon took a back seat, I simply didn't the time for second hand shopping, but once I quit I soon got my life (and my shopping habits) back on track. 

In 2001 I was working in an office and had usually completed my workload by mid-morning. Bored, I took to surfing the Internet and one day discovered eBay. One lunchtime I found a Chanel soap dish complete with its original bar of soap for 55p in a charity shop. Back at home I listed it on eBay promptly making a profit of £26. From then on I was hooked.

I spent my spare time scouring the charity shops, trawling the car boot sales and listing everything interesting I could lay my hands on. The money went straight into a savings account. Within six months I could afford two return flights to India.

In 2004 I landed a managerial role in a private health care clinic and, with my impressive CV, was able to negotiate a four day working week with every December off. This enabled me to continue with my eBay selling and to spend four weeks a year in India where I'd buy handmade hippy clothes, bags and jewellery from the markets, ship them home and sell them to my colleagues and on-line. 

In 2006 I had a total hip replacement. I ended up off work for six months, receiving the minimum statuary sick pay. By this time we'd paid off our mortgage and, after doing the maths, realised we could afford to live quite well without the restriction of paid employment so, in 2007, I handed in my notice and became self employed.

For five years I sold exclusively on eBay along with the occasional car boot sale. At first it was fabulous, I earnt more than I did as an employee and the days were my own but eBay started to get harder what with unscrupulous buyers, incessant trips to the Post Office and rising sellers fees.  In 2012 I was offered a pitch at a local vintage fair and we absolutely loved it. Customers could try clothes on there and then - no returns or refunds or things going missing in transit - and they were more than happy to pay the price on the tag. As someone who'd always worked front of house being able to talk to people was what I've always excelled at.

In 2013 we decided to give selling at festivals a go. We've been festival goers for years and it seemed like the ideal way to combine our passions - live music, having a laugh, all day drinking, meeting like-minded people and making a bit of cash from vintage clothes as well - its being paid for having fun. 

Kinky Melon will never make us rich - I cut my own hair and shop at Lidl, my wardrobe is 99.9% second hand, I don't own a single designer handbag and I've bought one new pair of shoes in five years but we have no debt and are having the time of our lives. 
Isn't that all that matters? 

Check out our friend's site - Wayne Fox Photography. He's the talent behind most of the photos.

Right, I'm off to pack my festival bag!
See you on the other side.

Monday 26 May 2014

Fire Up The Camper

Hooray, its our favourite time of year, festival season! 

On Thursday we'll be taking ourselves, Gilbert, our vintage trailer tent and a selection of Kinky Melon stock up the road to Uttoxeter .

 This is how our stall should look like once we're unpacked, complete with hand-made bunting, mirrored disco balls, solar lighting, a changing area and a stockroom. I can't guarantee the sun will be shining like it did for us at Camperjam last year.

But before all that we need to get Gilbert ready for action. Today has been spent scrubbing, polishing and packing him with the essentials needed to create a cosy home away from home. We'll be working 14 hour days, scoffing Jon's special Chana Massala on the hoof, largely fuelled by pear cider, by the time we've finished each day we're fit for nothing.

Gilbert was a joint 40th birthday present to ourselves back in 2006. He's entirely furnished in second hand finds, even the fridge came from a car boot sale. 

I can't take credit for the groovy leopard print interior, it came like this when we bought it.

Next job is the fun bit, sorting out some spectacular vintage stock with a groovy festival vibe.

Vintage 1970s "Silhouette Scene Setters, leisurewear to be at ease in" maxi dress (£3, Age UK), Denim waistcoat (from the gorgeous Lucy) and a heap of bastard jewellery.
See you soon!

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Lets Be Frank - My Finds Of The Fair

 You'd be forgiven for thinking Frank Usher only produced those '80s heavily sequined blouses much beloved of ladies of a certain age with a penchant for cruises but you'd be wrong. Frank Usher opened in 1946 and quickly gained a reputation for knocking up quality yet affordable versions of catwalk fashions, including designs by Ossie Clark.

 This voluminous sleeved silk maxi is from the early 1970s and just one of my finds from the Kiki & Honey's vintage fair last weekend.

On Saturday I wore this 1960s Jean Allen silk maxi which I'd snapped up at Stockport's Vintage Village the week before.

Silk maxi dress worn with bastard massive earrings from Walsall market

Within minutes of setting up our pitch I clocked these hand-painted vintage clogs on the stall next door-but-one in my size for a fiver!

Then I spotted this Pucci-esque Peterson Maid of London chiffon beauty from Vintage Boutiquilicious.

Photo nicked from Kiki & Honey
To further increase my excitement I was awarded Fifi, the crochet poodle I'd won in the Guess The Name of The Poodle competition the girls from Create Some Time ran at the last fair.

....and if that wasn't enough and I purchased a few more maxi dresses before closing time when the lady running the charity stall made me an offer I couldn't refuse (a selection of which are hanging out to dry right now).

...but before you think I'm going to drown under a sea of vintage clothes, I am following my own rules and have already removed double the number of frocks from my wardrobe which I'll be taking to Wolverhampton's Street Food & Flea Market on Saturday.

Frank Usher maxi (Twist & Pout Vintage) worn with 1970s St Michael silk shopper (courtesy of Clare from Miss Simmonds Says), Candy-coloured suedette platforms (local boutique, 2012, £5), Vintage Ted Lapidus sunglasses (One of two pairs bought from Acorns Hospice shop, 2009), 1960s Danish choker (£1, Newport vintage fair)
Its Wednesday, the weather's glorious and its time for rum & coke on the lawn.

If you haven't voted Vix yet please, please do....there's a tweedophile snapping at my heels. If you have, thank you so much!

Updated to link to Bella's Shop Secondhand link up because everything but Fifi is!
Also linking to Sacramento's Share in Style: Red.

Monday 19 May 2014

Curtain Couture - The Designer Edition

Sportsville printed cotton maxi skirt (courtesy of my fabulous campaign manager, Curtise), polka dot gypsy top (Salvation Army, 75p)

I bought these Grace Sullivan "Tree Tops" screen-printed curtains from a car boot sale held over the last Bank Holiday weekend. As the seller had them hanging up on his car I was a bit reluctant to enquire about the price, assuming they were a treasured possession. When he asked if two quid was acceptable and offered to chuck in a set of 1950s satin rose print boudoir curtains for free I almost bit his hand off.

Sold through Heals in 1971, this fabric goes for silly money on eBay but there was no way the lure of making a few quid would stand in the way of creating a new frock, besides I already had the pattern in mind, a 1970 Kenzo design darling Helga sent me last year.

The pattern was missing the instructions but under Liz's expert supervision we soon figured out how to assemble it, knocking it up in less than four hours with a break for peanut butter sandwiches, a stroll around her garden and a spot of sunbathing.

Kenzo's original designs were made using a mix of fabric he'd bought cheap from flea markets so hopefully he'd approve of my cheap-as-chips curtain couture.

Handmade Kenzo maxi worn with vintage '70s suede platforms (£9.99 eBay, 2011)

I'm committing the heinous crime of posting before I've caught up on my blog reading but I wanted to join Patti & the gang over at Visible Monday before the day was out.

See you soon with some amazing finds from last weekend's Stourbridge fair.

Friday 16 May 2014

Bare Faced Cheek

I've got a confession to make....whilst I always dress in vintage and pile on the jewellery, sometimes, like today, I just can't be arsed with wearing any make-up.

Pretty rich considering one of my favourite quotes is Beth Ditto's, A day without make-up is a day wasted.

But today hasn't been a total waste.
I was out just after 8am weeding between the blue bricks and planting the trays of Lobelia, French Marigolds and Petunias picked up from B&Q's clearance shelves yesterday.

...and after that I caught up with the reading whilst topping up my tan, and, of course, there was the never ending washing basket to tackle.

The joys of self employment!
I might never have much money but at least I can give myself a day off when the sun's shining.

Back to work tomorrow, this time Kinky Melon's back on the road and taking our vintage wares to the good people of Stourbridge. 

I don't particularly love seeing myself without my trademark black eye-liner and neon eye shadow but my blog is all about keeping it real, there's no pretence or dressing up especially for the camera round these parts - I don't dare. Loads of the neighbours read my blog.

Wearing: 1970s nylon halter neck midi dress (courtesy of the fabulous Curtise), 1960s Danish-made pendant (£1, last week's vintage fair)
Its a night in with Jon's home-made pizza and wine tonight but we'll be hitting the town tomorrow night, its been three weeks, Nessa's won't recognise us!

Have a fab weekend and see you soon.

**NEWS FLASH! Have you seen Bella's post today? I'm well and truly honoured and I'm linking my frock to the other savvy shoppers in Blogland.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

What To Wear To A Jumble Sale....

...if you're me!
 (If you're not then wear what the hell you want to, I'm a blogger not a style expert).

Yep, its that time of the month again, sorting through the stained undies, greasy pots & pans, out of shape Primark tee shirts & rancid shoes in preparation for tomorrow's jumble sale.

Its not all rubbish though, these are today's finds!

 (Clockwise from top left): 1970s Spanish souvenir key holder and flamenco dancer fan; 1970s bed cover for Gilbert's festival season; an odd vintage cruet; 1960s handbag mirror; French star shot glasses; 1960s ice bucket (in its original box); Plastic OBD (obligatory blogger deer).

Clockwise from top left: 1960s gold evening pumps; 1980s blingy festival chic jacket by Ciro Citterio (remember them, fellow British 40-somethings?); A pair of Harris Tweed caps; 1960s mustard shift dress; Levis denim jacket; Waxed shooting gillet; 1970s Reldan of London blouse; 1980s Aran sweater ( a perennial hipster favourite) ; Pink 1960s shift dress; Ex-army camo jacket; 1960s swimsuit; Hand made wool shawl.

There's absolutely shed loads left for the general public. Donations include everything from leather fronted tee shirts to dresses with exposed zips, dip-dyed leggings and Ikat prints - a sure sign they are no longer in vogue with the Black Country hipsters. There's Burberry, Ted Baker, Yves St Laurent and Gant menswear, Clarks' & Hotter shoes, Jaeger and Monsoon with the tags still attached and Jasper Conran bags. Some people really do have more money than sense.

I can't understand for the life of me why anyone would buy new clothes when there's so much available for a few pence second hand. I do mean pence, too. The prices tomorrow are 40p for a top, 60p for a pair of trousers and 80p for a dress and people will still moan, say its too expensive and try to walk out without paying.

1960s maxi dress (Lily McMuffins Vintage Boutique), 1960s glass collar (£1, Newport Vintage Fair), a stack of bangles and a tiger print bag (courtesy of the divine Helgita)

Notice that ridiculously big smile today? There's very good reason behind it. One of our mates has only gone and scored us some f*cking Glastonbury festival tickets. To say I'm excited would be an understatement. I'm going to crack open a cider later and get into practice for June.

See you soon!

PS Check out darling Curtise's blog post (she's my campaign manager) and vote Vix PLEASE!