I want to talk about the name of your business first. When did you first feel like you were “destined” for the vintage life?
Probably when I was 14. It was more out of necessity at that age. I started buying clothes from jumble sales and altering them. I never really felt like I fitted into what was on the market at the time and that was in the 70s so yeah, that’s where the destined part comes in.
What is it about these time periods that you’re most attracted to? Is it the films or the music or…?
It’s always been the music. My mother used to dance around the living room and we had Top of the Pops nights in the 60s. I just love Top of the Pops.
The business started out as a craft stall at a school fair, is that right?
It started with my daughter, really. She’s had the same kind of issues when it comes to clothes. She never really fitted into the kind of “trendy” clothes that other people were wearing. She didn’t really like them either. So she got into altering them herself! And there were a few good teachers at her school in Forfar who were into upcycling and repurposing. When they ran a Christmas fair, the pupils were encouraged to have a stall based around repurposing and reusing. For our stall, we did things like use old glasses to make candles- and we completely sold out!
Is that what gave you the confidence to think to yourself, yeah, I can do this for a living?
Yeah, it just really took off. We did the odd fairs in and around, but as we kind of ventured more into the clothing side of things, it began to get quite cumbersome. By the time you get it to a venue in the back of your car, get it set up, it’s already not looking its best because it starts to get crumpled. So we started to look at what the other possibilities were. Two of my friends had this unit, which I joined seven years ago. They both fell by the wayside fairly quickly, but I decided that, actually yeah, I could do this on my own. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! And you know what, I’m absolutely loving it.
“Pre-loved” is a buzzword that’s thrown around a lot these days, but it’s truly key to your business model and ethos isn’t it?
Yes, and pre-loved clothing still looks fabulous. They might be secondhand, maybe even third-hand, but there’s ways and means of changing them up to make them fit your style- without the price tag! And there’s a uniqueness to it too, you know that if you go out in one of these dresses that you’re unlikely to bump into somebody else wearing anything even similar!
Talking about your ethos, your collection is very size-inclusive right?
I try as much as possible to get a very decent range of sizes. I might not have the colour you might be looking for but I will always try and look for the right piece, because everybody deserves whether you’re tiny or on the more voluptuous side. Everybody deserves to look fabulous.
Totally love that. Size shouldn’t be a barrier to feeling your best!
You like to say that your items have had a previous life and deserve to be loved again. Do you have a personal experience with this?
So, five or six years ago, I lost about five stone for health reasons, and I had to get myself a whole new wardrobe. I had this collection of lovely dresses which I’d worn and worn, they were my absolute favourite. It was really hard to think about letting go of them at first, but it was seeing people come in and buy them, these dresses I’d treasured for so long, and feeling marvellous in themselves that I knew they were going to be loved all over again. It was sort of a…
Passing of the torch moment?
Yes! Like that. Knowing they felt as amazing as I felt is a really special experience.
Now for the market related questions, do you remember what it was that attracted you to Errol?
I just loved the camaraderie. I loved meeting Keith and the rest of the staff who have been so supportive of me, especially when I decided to brave it alone. And the other traders too, they’ve been entirely supportive.
It’s great to hear that, truly. We’re here to support traders as much as we can! And you’re such a staple at the market now. Being here for seven years, you must have some stories to tell?
There was this one story where John [Boath, Shed 2 in the Artisan Hall] gave me this costume. It was handmade, looked to be a 60s show costume, beautiful, and I decided to use it for display. A few weeks later, a lady comes into my shop and says– “that’s my costume!”
Wow, what are the chances?
What are the chances! Turns out, this lady had owned the costume in the 70s. It was her costume from her circus days when she did trapeze, and she was so delighted it was on show. The dress is now with a fabulous girl who’s a daughter of a friend of mine, and she was so happy to receive it.
Is there anything else special that you’ve bought here at the market?
So this was from John [Boath] again, it was this amazing lampshade that has this 1930s, French-style jester, upside down with his feet in the air.
Sounds so unique.
It really is. The reason I’ve got so much from John is because his unit used to be across from mine and he had a habit of leaving stuff out in front of his unit that he thought would catch my eye!
Gail, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking to you. Do you have anything you’d like to say to customers before we wrap up this interview?
Just “come in”. Feel free to come in and try out all the different styles and to enjoy that experience without pressure. Especially the younger folk who are trying to find their identity, it’s nice to be able to actually try things on and just experiment.