About the Founder, Nicole:
Growing up, I would spend my summers in NY with my grandparents, all of whom had immigrated at the beginning of the 20th century from Sicily and mainland Italy. During those summers I split my time between two very different households and learned important life lessons through fashion about the importance of having a work ethic, how we all deserve to feel beautiful, and how sometimes all it takes is a new pair of earrings to do just that.
At my Grandma Lucy’s I learned about quality and craftsmanship. She worked in the garment district as a seamstress and could not tolerate sub-par work. Her days were spent using industrial style sewing machines, but it was the pieces with hand stitching, beadwork, or a human touch she respected. Whether it was on a sewing machine or a math test, she instilled in me the principle of putting in the time to get it right.
Then, I’d visit my Nonna’s, who appreciated not only the beauty of a new silk scarf, but the fun that women could have with fashion. She worked selling hats and gloves at Bamberger’s department store and later sold Sarah Coventry jewelry directly from her home. She loved to accessorize her outfits and had a great sense of style. It was obvious that when she thought her outfit was put together well and she looked good, she felt good and that gave her confidence.
I remember going through Nonna’s jewelry box and discovering a vintage butterscotch Bakelite brooch of a butterfly along with three uniquely carved bangles she said she’d always wear with it. They were exquisite! After some minor pleading and arm tugging, these vintage Bakelite pieces came home with me and my first collection obsession began.
A few years later, I would find the real treasures tucked away in her closet. All wrapped in tissue paper and gently placed in their original containers, she had dozens of boxes from her time at Bamberger's and from trips abroad. There were beautiful 1940’s corde and Bakelite top handle bags, Lucite box style purses in all different shapes, and Italian leather bags in every style, color, and material imaginable! We would sit on the edge of her bed with a few boxes at a time and she’d tell me the story behind each of them, whether it was special because it came from a trip ‘home’ to Italy or because it was a limited edition style with a jeweled clasp. They all had a story, which was by proxy her story, and I was a captive audience. It was not as easy to convince her to let me bring one of those babies home, but she saw that unlike my mother or other cousins, I really got it, so she let me have a silver, Morris Moscowitz evening bag with a collapsible handle and an oversized silk Koret clutch with an AB rhinestone clasp. Now, I had a new addiction… and this was just the beginning!
By the time I was in 7th grade, Molly Ringwald was ‘Pretty in Pink’ and my fascination with vintage fashion had been validated, but the secret was out there- vintage fashion was cool. I had a friend who was my partner in crime, and we would go to yard sales, flea markets, or take the metro to the overpriced, trendy stores in Georgetown to spend our saved allowances on Lucite lunchbox purses and beaded cashmere cardigans. When we realized we could make a little bit of extra money from reselling items, we started doing that, too; taking our yard sale finds back to those upscale stores in DC- two teenage, fashion pickers.
Through college, I honed my skills- there was no eBay and the internet
was in its infancy. I regularly found items for a couple of shops in Charlottesville, where I attended UVA. One day, one of the shops seemed to be undergoing some big changes with stuff coming in and out by the truckload. When I inquired, I was told the partners were splitting and the one who was staying asked me if I wanted to manage the new version of the store- it was a huge 15000+ sq ft space, and I agreed, but only if I could have a 500 sq ft space to sell my own items. He was fine with the plan so my first store was born. Ultimately, the owner that hired me and his new partner couldn’t get along either, so I was offered a 10000 sq ft space to really grow my brick & mortar business!
I had Junktion for about 4 years- no one ever tells you how hard having a business will be, especially at 24 years old. The phrase ‘good help is hard to find’ is definitely true, too, especially when you can barely pay minimum wage. Had it not been for one of my dearest friends, Sabine, and Rod, a fellow vintage enthusiast who took pity on me, I think I would have closed the doors much sooner. The space was so large, I had enough room to sell a little bit of everything- clothing, purses, jewelry, accessories, furniture, housewares, etc. When I left Charlottesville to help my dad run his printing businesses in DC, I never lost my love for vintage fashion and art and never stopped collecting and looking for unusual new pieces.
At this point, the way people did business had moved online and the items I had from when Junktion closed (plus the pieces I had been acquiring) were the perfect mix for my first go at an online shop, called ‘Vintage- Junktion’ located on one of the big third party platforms. In the beginning, it did quite well and fees seemed somewhat reasonable. But, as support for sellers became non-existent and fees grew, I looked for a new place to have my shop. I moved to another 3rd party platform, but like all good things, that system ended, the fees went through the roof, and after four years of selling there, I decided it is time to control my shop again, and be able to pass what I save in fees to you all in discounts. This is why I decided to create Alla Moda Vintage. I’m so happy that you’ve found your way here, and cannot wait to see what treasures you choose to take home with you!