Lessons in Thrifting and Retro Style with the Vintage Maven of Bohème Goods
Maybe you’re like me and you absolutely love vintage, or maybe you’d like to get into thrifting but you’re just not sure how. Well, today I’m here to introduce you to a real life Penny Lane, please meet my favorite vintage maven, Sarah Shabacon of Bohème. This past year I took a deep and dreamy dive down the retro pages of her world and immediately fell in love. I also perused her company website for a bit the other day and ended up buying a beautiful pair of old-fashioned, leather-woven shoes. Oopsies! But I didn’t even feel bad because they are an amazing, light caramel color and they were only $12! Can you believe that? Here within the earthy filters of her sun-kissed, 1970s-esque Instagram, a young mother of two runs her very own curated hand-picked vintage shop. Bohème sells thrifted clothes and accessories for women and children, as well as art and home goods. The color palette she is working off of is just downright divine. To tell you the truth I’ve never seen her post anything I didn’t like and the other day I thought to myself, this is cause for an interview. I couldn’t help but wonder, how does she do it?! Day in and day out, and where is she finding these treasures? And Where can I find these gems myself? I love thrifting but she is next level. I recently caught up with Sarah to discuss vintage, following her passion, motherhood, being a business owner and how she balances it all. Catch our conversation below. I promise you’ll leave our interview feeling nostalgically inspired and you just may pick up some new tips and tricks on how to conquer your next thrift store!
We love Bohème and have been following your company for quite some time, tell us how you got started with this venture!
It was a spur of the moment decision one spring day after having a really good thrift. I thought about how I’d love to share some of my finds and racked my brain for a name. Voila! Bohème was born. I signed up for an Instagram account, announced I’d created a new page and left it up to fate! Within a month I closed down my old shop and decided to pursue selling vintage as a hobby, surely not something that would help support my family and later become my dream career.
What did you do before Bohème, did you ever see yourself doing what you do now?
Before Bohème, I owned an accessories label called IWEARTHEHEADRESS. I sold to brick and mortars around the globe and my big moment was selling to Free People. By big, I mean the moment I realized I wasn’t doing what I loved and decided it was the end of an era for me.
Growing up as a kid when did you acknowledge your entrepreneurial spirit or sense of fashion?
I grew up rummaging through my grandmother’s closet, it was filled with ballroom dance gowns, fur coats, glamorous hats, and jewels. There wasn’t a day that I spent there without dressing up. She would tell me all about where each piece was made, the fabric, the memories associated with a particular dress, and I just soaked it all in; this was better than TV to me. I’ve got endless stories about my “creative moments” as a kid but I’ll leave it at cutting up my sisters birthday dress to use a 4” square as a fabric swatch for a school project… I got an A and also grounded.
Describe the Bohème aesthetic and mission.
Aesthetically speaking Bohème is like stepping into a time capsule. I want to evoke the warmth of a sunny day and a dash of the ’70s into every image. “With stories and lives lived far beyond your walls” is the best way to describe what the mission of Bohème is… buying vintage does wonders for Mother Earth – it not only reduces waste but (I hope) it elicits a deeper reflection into the piece a customer purchases. What comes across as an ‘old shearling coat’ may just as well be a coat that was worn in 1973 by a beautiful self-proclaimed hippie who traveled throughout Europe in it. Every piece has endless possibilities to the life it once lived outside your walls and honestly, what could be a greater story than the one you dream up in your head.
Describe a day in the life of Bohème, what is a typical workday like for you?
I wake up to my sons telling me “IT’S MORNING TIME!” I carry them both downstairs / beg them to walk by themselves. We make our smoothies together, I get them set up in the play area and run upstairs and reply to emails, pack orders and arrange pickups with couriers.
Describe your thrifting process, how do you go about finding your vintage treasures?
Ideally, I have at least four hours of time to myself to travel around the mainland hitting up thrift shops. I spend a lot of time driving from spot to spot and am actually in and out of most shops within 15 minutes. I have these little routes in each shop that I follow to keep me on track, but I never rush. I probably look a bit crazy because sometimes I stop and smile at something or if it’s something awful, I make a face.
I saw that you started this company in May of 2016 and you have already amassed quite the following, what do you attribute your success to?
I’m a firm believer in good karma and the law of attraction. I’ve just stayed true to who I am; I’ve been honest and passionate about what I do and I’m so grateful for the response to it!
Who are your style icons (of the past or present), who inspires you?
Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, and Matilda Djerf.
Who are your favorite people or companies to follow on IG for style inspo?
@MatildaDjerf – We clicked right away about a year ago, she is Swedish and has the coolest style.
@KelciPotter – Jeweler, Artist, Alchemist … she is so down to earth and mixes classics and modern so well.
@DazedButAmazed – Amazing page, her family, and business are beautiful and every photo makes me feel like it’s the ’70s.
What is it like to be a young mom of two?
It’s like a dream honestly. A lot of the time I am so tired I wonder if it’s real life because surely no one can survive on such little sleep… but sure enough, my hair gets pulled a moment later and yep! I’m awake. I’ve got two healthy and happy sons and know that it’s such a gift and I feel honored to have started motherhood at such a young age because I can’t imagine a life other than this one.
How do you balance motherhood and owning your own business?
This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time and it was actually contributing to a lot of frustration for our whole family. I just recently hired a nanny to come to our home two days a week which has already proven to do wonders for us all. The boys are happy and busy and I’m able to get four nights worth of work done in a day! It clears up my evenings so I can actually spend (much needed) time with my husband and I can now spend my days off focusing on the boys, and not try to squeeze in an hour of work here and there. It will never be perfectly balanced but I can already tell this was a step in the right direction.
What are some tips and tricks on how to score some rad vintage wares?
I’ve found so many rad vintage pieces on Craigslist. You’ve got to be dedicated if you want something badly enough so try turning on notifications to be alerted when your saved searches end up for sale!
What are a few vintage staples you feel every woman should own?
- Well worn white tee. The more worn, the better.
- Vintage belt. I personally don’t wear belts often but when I do, I want something unique that adds something to my outfit. Leather with a brass buckle or a simple gold chain belt is all you need.
- Vintage Levis, finding the perfect pair is a process so don’t limit yourself to a particular style or size. I’m a size 4 and wear the 535 style in a size 30.
- Cashmere sweater. I have a collection of vintage cashmere sweaters and even if they have holes, they make great layering pieces. This is one of the most beautiful fabrics and they will last a lifetime.
What advice would you offer to young entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business?
As long as you are passionate about what you hope to create, the obstacles you will face and the nights you may spend tossing and turning over it, will all be worth it.
What are some of the hardest aspects of owning your own business and how do you tackle those issues?
- Learning to stop working when your office is a few steps away. This one is easier said than done, especially since my marketing is done solely on social media which of course means it’s at my fingertips, literally. I will still post on my Instagram page when I’m not ‘working’ but if I’ve got the day off, I do my best to stay out of the office!
- Finances (!!) I’ve got an incredible accountant who saved my sanity this past year. My first year in business was both financially and emotionally overwhelming and I cannot stress enough how important it is to have someone you can trust to manage your finances and help you navigate taxes.
- Finding the time… up until summer, I had been sourcing entirely by myself which is a lot of work because I sell out of stock quite quickly so I am constantly out buying for the shop. With a lucky twist of fate I met Mer, she sells vintage to me and it’s really incredible vintage. She comes by every few weeks with a fresh haul for me to sort through and it makes my life so much easier having her help with sourcing!
What is it like living in British Columbia and how does that affect your personal style and the aesthetic of your company?
Living in British Columbia I’ve been exposed to the so many different cultures that coincide here and really found inspiration in that. I love to mix pieces from different parts of the world and think there is something really beautiful about being able to wear a pair of vintage American made denim jeans with a cotton tunic from India and a bag from Africa all together in perfect harmony.
What is your favorite quote or life mantra?
“Have more than you show, speak less than you know.” – William Shakespeare
What are your hopes and dreams for Bohème in the future?
All I hope for is to still enjoy what I do in 10 years, as much as I do now, and all I dream is to still be running Bohème in 10 years.
Images via Boheme Goods
Stefani Ellenbecker is the Editorial Director at Wit & Delight. When she’s not feverishly editing or writing about style and interiors, she runs her bohemian shop Arden Trading Co. where she sells artisan-made home goods. She lives in Minneapolis with her fiancé Muhamed.