I opened up Netty Vintage in 2011 for many reasons. I wanted to run my own business, I wanted to share my love of well made clothing, but there was always another reason in the back of my mind.
I wanted Netty to be a haven for all those people in Brantford who didn’t feel like they belonged anywhere. I wanted to arm anyone who dared with the flashiest and classiest of accoutrement.
Especially the young ones.
If I’m honest, it was because I considered myself something of a misfit when I was in high school, and there was really no place for me to go except the thrift stores.
15 years later, through Netty, I prided myself on giving that young girl the one-of-a-kind prom dress or back to school outfit. And I always took a little more care with these lovely customers to make sure that they had that extra bit of confidence to actually wear it.
I was also blessed enough to meet young women who were so utterly confident in their individual style that they inspired me to push my own a little farther. Amber of Butane Anvil and Jentine of My Edit are just a few.
They were so daring and glamourous, how could I not?
I was privileged to meet Ashley before her wedding. She had spied some vintage hair clips on my Facebook page and let me know that she had to have them. She immediately left an impression on me and I thought to myself, how can I share this beauty?
Fast forward to 2013, and an opportunity to do a community fashion show landed in my lap. Putting out a call for models, I secretly hoped that Ashely would respond. True to form, she did.
Following Ashely’s adventures on Facebook (she is also an amazing burlesque performer that goes by the name of Bonita Chinchilla – be sure to check her out if you get the chance), I was shocked to see a post about her experience being bullied. Nevermind that the outfit in question was perfect or that she had selected it with such care and thoughtfulness, someone had the gaul to comment that “Halloween had come early”.
It occurred to me that this woman, previously thought unflappable, could be flapped and it really angered me that she could be made to feel any less than beautiful.
And then I remembered her reaction to something in my store – one of the most beautiful pieces of vintage clothing I have ever had the honour of carrying and one with a heart wrenching story.
It was a handmade silk nightgown from pre-WWII. It was made by the woman to wear on her honeymoon, but she never got the chance. He never came home from the war.
So here it was, as pristine as the day it was made over 70 years ago.
Moved by the story, Ashely was in Netty the very next day, husband in tow. She just wanted to see it in person and marvel at its beauty.
So when I read how this bully had rocked her, I wondered, how can I show her what her confidence meant to me?
The answer was clear. This nightgown belonged to her. It always had really, I was just keeping it for her. I threw in some vintage nylon stockings because I’ve seen enough burlesque shows to know that those things take a beating.
And so, the lesson is this: be bold, be brave. Always take the opportunity to expose the bullies for the cowards they are, because you never know who your inspiring right this moment. And you might just get some free swag.