My name is Nicole Dotto, and I scour the land for really pretty and sometimes really terrible vintage clothing (no such thing, y’all). My shop is called DOTTO. I’m from California, but I’ve been living in Chicago, Illinois, for a few years now.
I have to admit that unlike every other vintage seller I have met or heard about, I used to be creeped out by old things – big time. Luckily, my feelings toward anything remotely old has changed completely over the years, and now my mouth actually kind of salivates when walking into a thrift shop or estate sale (so unladylike).
My process is interesting: I don’t actually enjoy shopping unless it involves looking for vintage items for other people. I can out-shop everyone I know (go ahead, ask around) as long as I have some snacks and I’m not shopping for anything in particular.
I have grown to love all parts of running my shop: finding clothing, cleaning, mending, measuring, taking photos with a timer like no one’s business, editing, shipping, and answering questions. I live and work in a studio apartment, which requires some super organization.
I love the fact that DOTTO allows me to call the shots, give new life to clothing that otherwise might be discarded, pretend that I have the grandest closet in all the land, meet people from around the world, and put cats in my pictures, but what I really love about it is the glorious flexibility it affords me. I joined the Peace Corps after college because I wanted a broader perspective of the world, and I’ve continued volunteering in some way ever since. Having my days free lets me volunteer around Chicago a couple of times a week, which is truly what I love to do. I have working limbs and my wits about me; there is no reason I shouldn’t be helping others as much as I can.
Because I have so much support from my family and friends, starting my small business and relying on it as a sole source of income from the start never felt like a huge risk. I think it has worked out in large part because of their encouragement. It can sound terrifying, but I want everyone to know that they can do this kind of thing too. If the idea pops into your head, just go for it! Etsy is a perfect marketplace to try it out.
All photographs by DOTTO.