Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Interview with Sammy Davis: Vintage Curator and Stylist

I recently interviewed the fabulous Sammy Davis, curator, stylist, and founder of Sammy Davis Vintage. Her goal is to make vintage fashion accessible to the contemporary woman. Sammy has been featured in Full Frontal Fashion, i Heart Daily, and Guest of a Guest.

With so many brands and options available to the contemporary woman, why should she consider buying vintage?
When you buy vintage clothing, you are first investing in style. These are one-of-a-kind pieces for your wardrobe that will get compliments from peers and add positive energy to your personal style. That is style. Now, when you buy vintage, you are also investing in sustainable style - the fact that you are investing in alternative fashion rather than the mass produced mainstream. Buying vintage and second-hand is recycling clothing that would otherwise be rotting in a landfill.

What is your role as a vintage curator?
My brand's platform is "sustainable style with substance." I curate thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales, even people's closets to find the best vintage pieces for my market. I do this as a service so that woman can understand the opportunities to engage in eco-conscious, unique and affordable fashion. I want my platform and its high quality product to clear woman's insecurities around buying second hand pieces so that they can execute their own buying power and seek vintage and thrift on their own.

How do you use social media?
I use social media in a multitude of ways: Not only for my own pleasure, but to create pleasure and content (and thereby context) around my brand to an audience, and to eventually form relationships with that audience and my pre-existing network of fans and friends. Secondly, I use social media to initiate sales from my collection through online networking and online word-of-mouth around my brand and it's product, and to stay in touch with the needs and wants of my existing customer base.

What tools to you use to engage your audience?I'll update my Facebook fan page with the status change, "What styles do you want most for the spring?" or "What are your favorite looks right now?" to crowdsource my customer base for input on what to buy so that I have a better chance of carrying a product that my market wants and will buy.

Fans may say, "I'm dying for a houndstooth skirt! or "A motorcycle leather jacket." If I see any styles fitting to these requests on my thrifting journey, I will buy, and then directly email that fan with a picture to let them know I'm now carrying their wardrobe request in my shop. It's like you telling your favorite store that you want a particular look, and they buy it just for you. While department stores and even small boutiques can't create this service for their customer, I can personalize the shopping experience through crowd sourcing strategy because I buy one-of-a-kind pieces and don't have to stock my store with duplicates.

I believe in the 80/20 model -- that 80 percent of your business is done with 20 percent of your customer base. So make sure that you are keeping that 20 percent happy -- and when you are selling online and can continually be in touch with multiple customers at once, there is no better way to fulfill those needs of that 20 percent to keep them returning to your brand to purchase your product.

How do you initiate sales?
A wall is broken down between seller and customer when a relationship is formed through interaction on the web. By remaining human in your business relationships, the customer sees you as a trusted friend and is more apt to make that final sale.

For example, after reaching out to a favorite new blog of mine, Spicy Candy, I developed a Twitter relationship with one of the two writers. She tweeted me one day to ask if I carried and leather skirts, because her best friend was looking for one. She passed along her friend's email and I sent her friend pictures and measurements of a few leather skirts I carried. And guess what! She bought one from me!

You also have a media component to your business. Can you speak a bit about that?
My personal mission is to "make vintage fashion more accessible to the contemporary woman." This is not only through sales of a product, but in generating media of service and inspiration around that product and around the benefits of the industry of wearing second-hand clothing itself. I launched Sammy D TV with the intention to create videos that could be used as service pieces. 5 Thrifting Tips (below) and How to Get into Your Grandmother's Closet are the two best examples of how I hope to provide inspiring content to my reader so that he/she can take my knowledge and apply it on their own.

5 Thrifting Tips // Episode 6 // Sammy D TV from Sammy Davis on Vimeo.

Additionally, I hope that by creating content -- whether it is through my written blog or video blog, and then promoting on Twitter/Facebook and other outlets -- that I reach a new market who would never have encountered content about vintage clothing and thrift store style before. While I realize that my sales will remain successful under the 80/20 model, I want my content and reach as a media brand to extend much farther. And the best way to reach a great audience is via the web. Creating content also allows for me to maintain a voice of authority in this saturated industry. Admittedly, I am but one online vintage seller among many. Sellers make their livelihoods based on online sales. I am not there yet, but hope that through promotion of my brand and its mission, along with my attention to personalization and working for my customer as a resource and personal stylist, that someday I can achieve my dreams of writing a book on thrift store style for the 20-something, and have a book launch party at my own vintage store/boutique.

For readers in the New York area, Sammy Davis Vintage will be holding a sale to benefit She's the First. Details, a non-profit media campaign that promotes girls's education in developing countries. Click here for details.


Angela said...

Great info!

Alice /// VESTIGIAL WINGS said...

this was a great article! I just spent forever reading her blog now and I love it.