Monday, January 27, 2014

A Look Inside My Studio: Behind the Scenes at Chronologie Vintage

It’s always fun to see how other people work, especially when that work is creative or artistic.  Looking behind the scenes at someone else’s workspace offers ideas and inspiration to borrow. It also lets us be peeping Toms in a way that’s not creepy or weird.  And that’s always a good thing.

In that spirit, today I’m going to show you the studio where I do most of the work for my vintage clothes shop. This is where I mend and sometimes alter pieces before taking photos of them. 

I’m lucky enough to work in a fun, funky studio in an old downtown hotel.  Well, actually it used to be a brothel, so I am continuing the tradition of woman-owned businesses here. Or something like that. 

In any case, here’s what my studio looks like: 

studio 005studio 003

This is on a clean day—in fact, the day I moved in. It’s looking a little more like this most days, now. 

cute indie clothes december 2011 036

The east wall of my studio is a clean white backdrop for my photo shoots.  The artist who used the space before me left quite a few nail holes in this wall, but mostly they don’t show up. Someday when business slows down and I find myself twiddling my thumbs, I might paint it. But so far, that hasn’t happened. 

Photos are a huge part of making an online business work. I’m not a photographer, and my first photos were awful. One reason is that light in my studio is pretty scarce. The windows face north, and the light that does come in is kind of cold and blue—you can see this in all the photos above.

These days I use extra “daylight” lights and they help immensely. I keep working to improve my photography, and I think it’s a lot better than it was at first.

When I first started selling on Etsy, I went to our local mall and got a free display mannequin from the Eddie Bauer store. That’s it below. It was good for starting out in my business, especially since it was free.  

Studio shots November 2010 110may 5 053

The manni had some issues, though. It’s made of paper mache and looks like a reptile in close-ups (maybe that’s why it was free). 

Also, it’s super small and regular-size items look weird on it.  Third, it’s made for shirts—and I sell a lot of dresses.

I really struggled with how to show dresses on this manni. In the days before I got my studio, I tried to do dress photos as my house. What do you think—is hanging it from a plant hook in my living room (photo on the right) a good option? I don’t think so, either.

Finally, about a year after I opened my shop, my kind mother bought me two new mannequins. One is female and one is male.

Studio shots November 2010 105

Because my mom bought them for me, she got to name then—she chose Archie and Edith.  Archie and Edith are wonderful. They’re easier to use than the first one and I think they look more professional. Here are some examples of how they look in clothes.

Dancing Queen 70s Chiffon Party or Day Dress / Orange Peach / Secretary Fitted LMen's Western Shirt with Pearl Snaps / Rockabilly Striped Cowboy Shirt

Finally, I started taking pictures with models in addition to using my mannequins. These models are my daughter and her friends. I’ve learned two key tips for working with these teens:  have snacks and beverages around, and expect them to be silly. 


One of the things I love most about having my own small business is how much I learn every day. It’s so rewarding to face problems and figure out solutions that work.  

Thanks for joining me on this little journey into my work space and process.

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