Thursday, March 17

A Beautifully Messy Interview with Elsie Flannigan

You are a full package deal – there is your art, photography, A Beautiful Mess blog, Red Velvet store, dress line, e-courses, Project Restyle on Flickr.  Lord I’m tired for you just typing it all out and I’m probably forgetting something.  Can you give us a brief timeline of what came in what order and maybe even a how or why each came about?  Did you learn photography to take pictures of your art and clothing?  Did you start the blog as a marketing tool for your store and it took off from there?

Thanks so much! All of my projects have collected over time. Definitely not an overnight story, but here's how it all came about... I started my blog around six years ago, just for fun. Three years ago I quit my full time job for a scrapbooking company to pursue Red Velvet full time. We opened a website and a shop. We're now on our second local shop location! This year I'm focused on promoting the idea of wearing vintage in a modern way through 'Makeover Story' and weekly styling tips on my blog. Project ReStyle is a project that Rachel and I started to encourage the concept of reusing and green living! Currently I am developing a collection of my own clothing designs for the Red Velvet brand and, in my spare time, planning a wedding.
Deep breath... I think that's it! ;)

Speaking of the million and one things that you do, how did I miss the scrapbook line and books? Do you still dabble in scrapbooking?  I am teetering on the edge with Digital Scrapbooking.  People like Danielle Thompson and her Kitschy Digitals keep almost pushing me over the edge.  Do you still scrapbook?  I think scrap booking has gotten a bit of a bad rap, there are some cute things out there to play with.

Thanks so much! I authored two books and designed a scrapbooking line called Love, Elsie for KI Memories in my early twenties. I left that job to pursue my dreams with Red Velvet. I don't really miss it, but it was a very happy time in my life!

E-courses are something that has always intrigued me.  What made you decide to start offering them?  What has been your most popular class to date?  How do the classes work – are they live, a private blog, video?

I love teaching online! My e-courses are hosted on private blogs. My most popular class has been Blog Love a course filled with personal advise about blogging. It was so much fun to develop! I'm currently working on a business one that will come out in May. 

You have a super duper popular blog that covers topics ranging from DIY how-to’s, home décor, vintage shopping and even pictures of your daily outfits.  What types of posts seem to be the most popular with your readers?  What do you think makes those posts so popular?

Thanks so much! My most commented posts are tips and advise, such as my 5 Tips' series. My readers also love Makeover Story, which is a before and after editorial style feature where I give someone a vintage makeover. You can see a few examples here and here. I think readers can tell when I've spent a lot of time on a post and these posts take hours, and even days.

You own a store called Red Velvet with your sister and best friend.  There are physical stores in Springfield, MO as well as an online presence.   The store has so many cute things.  Can you give a new mom who has gotten behind on the trends a few tips about what is popular for spring and summer 2011?

For Spring of 2011 my personal favorite trends are 70s style fringe, Ombre textiles and jewelry and lots of gold.

You have recently launched a new dress line. Tell us a little bit about the line.  What inspired you?  Are the items one of a kind?  If you had to wear one piece from the new line day after day what would it be?

Yes! My favorite piece is the black and white chevron jumper. It's super versatile and fun to wear. The whole collection was a huge dream to design!

What types of things can you guys barely keep in stock at the store?  For me there always seems to be a big difference in what sells online versus at say a bricks and mortar store or show like the Renegade Craft Fair.  Do you guys notice that?

Yes. We sell more clothing locally, probably because people can try it on. Online we sell tons of accessories and e-courses too.

We are kindred spirits with our love of all things vintage.  If you had to pick one flea market in all the country as your favorite what would it be?  I scheduled my wedding around the Round Top Flea Market here in Texas.

Sometimes Jeremy and I take trips to buy vintage. My favorite place to 'shop' is old inventories and estate sales (by-appointment-only type stuff). They're harder to come by, but SO worth it since they aren't picked through. I also love buying directly from the original owners of clothing from the 50s and 60s because then the clothing comes with stories! 

I noticed you have a very handy dandy article on your blog called How to shop Vintage + Understanding vintage sizing.  Any other tips for shopping for vintage?  When shopping for vintage I always think of what my dad says about going car shopping, drive the worst looking car you own to the dealership and don't look all fancy pants.  Even though I love to wear cute vintage duds, show off my Bakelite jewelry and carry cute old bags I never do to a flea market so I don't get sized up by a dealer.  Any hot tips like this from a gal who makes part of their living buying and selling vintage?

Fun! My best tip (for thrifting) is to go often and be PICKY. It's easy to grab tons of B-list stuff, but these days I focus on only collecting amazing pieces in amazing condition. Focusing on quality when buying automatically ups the quality of your personal wardrobe or shop.

What is on the horizon for a busy girl like you?  More book deals, TV shows, more E-courses – seems like for you the sky is the limit.

You're so kind! In 2011 I am focusing all my attention on developing Red Velvet as an independent fashion label. We're building a tight knit team and creating our lines from scratch! It's a dream come true!

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