Do you love to thrift? Hannah Edelstein, creator of SlimeWarp Vintage, turned her passion for thrifting into a business specializing in vintage clothing. Here she shares more about starting a business from scratch and what skills and traits she’s learned to embrace through the experience of being her own boss.
Why did you decide to start this business?
I’ve always been pretty addicted to thrifting, and I rarely get rid of anything—a dangerous combination that led to me owning a ridiculous amount of really amazing stuff, mainly clothing. About two years I was “in between jobs” and needed to make some money, so I decided to start selling some of my vintage clothes and accessories online. I opened up an Etsy shop and put up a few, basic style listings. When they weren’t selling, I started researching tips and watching tutorials on how to actually get my listings seen and sold. I ended up falling in love with the process, and slowly made my first few sales. I kept it up and as my knowledge and experience grew, so did my sales. I was spending hours every day on the shop, so I decided to just put all my time and energy into the shop — and that’s where I am today!
What is your background? (Education, Work Experience)
I have two Bachelor’s degrees from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, one in Film+Digital Technology with a concentration in documentary filmmaking and one in Visual Arts. I’ve worked as a freelance videographer, and in customer service and food service. Communication and networking are probably the most valuable skills in my arsenal, and I owe some of that to my work experience, and a lot of it to my friends and professors at school.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
Besides the photography and computer skills needed to run an online shop, I pretty much had to teach myself everything about selling online. From bookkeeping and taxes to SEO and marketing, I’ve spent a lot of the year or two learning and experimenting and researching every aspect of owning a small business.
How did you decide on your business name?
My shop was originally called “Slimeypaws”, which was my alter ego at the time. I really don’t remember how I came up with that name, it was just something weird and it felt right. I eventually changed it to “SlimeWarp”, you know, as a play on “time warp” but more slimey.
What makes your business stand out?
It’s REALLY difficult to stand out when there are a bazillion vintage shops online, so I don’t worry too much about that on a conscious level. I think I stand out as a person and that kind of naturally translates to my shop. Something that separates me from a lot of the other vintage shops is that many of them focus on more “traditional” and older vintage styles, like 1920s-50s classy stuff. But, those pieces tend to be pretty expensive, and my generation doesn’t really have a couple hundred dollars to spend on a 1950s evening gown. What we do have is $30 to spend on a rad 1980s neon windbreaker, or a pair of acid wash jeans. I look at what my friends and I wear and what we can afford to buy, and that’s what I sell.
What is a typical day like?
On a typical day, I wake up and check my shop to see if I made any sales overnight and check my stats to see what my traffic was like while I was asleep. If there were sales, I pack the order and ship it. If it’s a photoshoot day, I select pieces to shoot and do that in my DIY basement studio. If I have photos from the previous day, I edit them and create a listing on Etsy. Every few weeks, I hit the thrift shops for new stock, which is my favorite part of the job.
How do the social/economic/technological environment in Frederick impact your business?
I do all of my business online, so my geographic location is pretty irrelevant. To me, environment is more about the people around me. I am lucky enough to have an amazing family, my parents and two sisters have been so encouraging and supportive of me through this process. My partner is a constant source of inspiration and motivation, they have my back in a way I never knew existed and having a person like that in my life is more important than I can express.
What is the best part about what you do? Most Challenging?
Working for myself is the best part, but also the most challenging. I don’t have a boss, which is great of course, but it’s also pretty scary at times knowing that I am solely responsible for my success or failure. I’ve also been able to meet (both digitally and in person) some really rad people all over world, who I wouldn’t have met had I not started SlimeWarp. That’s another great part.
What is the single most critical skill you possess in your role as a business owner?
The most critical skill I possess as a business owner is confidence (I had to work for a long time to be a confident person). It is what keeps me going when things get tough, it’s what lets me step outside my comfort zone and try new things, it’s the overwhelming voice inside that reminds me that I deserve to be happy and I have the ability to manifest my own future.
When you’re not running your business, what are you doing?
I’m ALWAYS running my business. I think people who have started their own business have to accept the fact that it’s all or nothing in terms of dedicating your life to it. There is no separation between me and my shop. Maybe that’s not super healthy, but it works for me.
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?
I’ve had to learn to not obsess about the future, it makes me so anxious that I end up not focusing on the present. That’s something I’ve always struggled with. But I do have a secret plan for the future. You’ll have to wait and see what it is! But rest assured, you’ll be seeing more of me and SlimeWarp over the next few years!