Here comes the big reveal… though we’re known on the Internet (and to some friends and family) as Vera and Victor, our given names are actually Anastasia and Eric. We own and operate a vintage boutique called Vera Vague with a focus on the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco periods, but we have items from just about every era. We live in a little-city/big-town called Kalamazoo – yes, we really do!
We do what we do because it incorporates all of our loves: history, art, design, fashion, photography, and preservation of the past. We’re like archaeologists of style. Honestly, Etsy has changed the course of our lives. We now have a venue that didn’t previously exist – one where we can combine all the things we love (and love doing), and a global audience to interact with. We’ve been introduced to people from all over the world that we otherwise never would have been able to know, and our lives have been enriched by these experiences. We now have good friends in Italy, Australia, Canada, Germany, and Japan, to name a few. Recently, we even sold a dress to Taylor Swift (see here)! We feel incredibly lucky, and incredibly humbled.
We’ve got our work process down to a well-oiled machine. We have photo shoots every other day or so. Eric is the photographer and I’m the primary model. After shoots, I edit photos until my eyes cross and then post sneak peeks on our blog. On days we’re not having a photo shoot, Eric wraps items to be shipped while I respond to customer inquiries, list new items, and do general computer stuff. Eric also handles a great deal of repairs, cleaning, and general maintenance of our inventory. He’s pretty savvy with a sewing needle! We both spend a lot of time prepping and steaming items before and during shoots.
When we have a little free time, I enjoy sewing my own clothing and Eric works with analog film photography in his recently constructed dark room. We love taking road trips that end in impromptu photo shoots, like the one we took to the Badlands (which was shot just after we saw a piece of satellite fall from outer space – true story!)
The story of our favorite finds actually started on a road trip. We were driving along a mountain road in Colorado at sunset back in September 2011, miles from anything, with no idea where we were going to stay that night. When we finally happened upon the sleepy, old-timey mining town of Victor (!) we took it as a sign, and ended up staying in the beautiful historic Victor Hotel. The next morning, we were browsing an antique shop down the road when a woman wandered in. Somehow we got to talking, and she told us she had just bought the old brothel building down the road, along with everything that was left in it. This included the previous owners’ wardrobe from the 1930s, which she was looking to get rid of. We followed her directly over to the building (which still had the original red wallpaper, albeit peeling) and found racks of disheveled antique clothing. We had to bring quite a few of the garments back from the dead, but if we can save an antique piece of art from the landfill, then it’s a solid day’s work.
When you see the hand stitching on a gown made by someone 50 or 100 years ago, it’s like reaching through time and looking over that person’s shoulder as they sew the cloth. Some garments exude otherworldly energy, as if a piece of the previous owner still lingers in the threads. We love that in our society of mass-produced goods, so many people are beginning to revert back to a handmade mentality. Maybe one day the clothes we make in our spare time will be appreciated in the same way we appreciate the homemade items of yore.
All photographs by Vera Vague.