Behind The Brand

Meme and me vintage

Tell us a bit about yourself 

I’ve lived in the Chicagoland area my whole life but my ideal space would be a bit further out; a farm with a couple of houses on it. It would be big enough for all of my family and friends to visit, with a large garden that can feed them all. And a space that can house all of my vintage finds, of course. My passions and hobbies intertwine daily: thrifting, gardening, community. I have a front yard garden, and I love to harvest goodies and share the bounty. I’ll climb into my elderberry tree with a colander and fill it with with berries, snap a photo for Instagram, and then extract the juice from the elderberries to make a batch of homemade elderberry syrup. From my gardening apron to my decades-old colander to the jars, almost everything that I use in my daily life is repurposed. My greatest joy is giving old things new life. I photograph my journey along the way so others can enjoy it too, and maybe be inspired to repurpose treasures that bring them joy.

What made you start your company?

I launched MeMe and Me Vintage in 2015 after purchasing a smaller home, so that I could continue to have the thrill of the treasure hunt without having to keep everything I find – and the joy of connecting people with vintage. Since my earliest memories, I’ve been going to thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales with my mom. Our house was filled with vintage pieces and collections, and it had such a unique vibe. In high school, I began searching for things I could eventually take with me when I moved out. I still have two of my first scores: a cast iron school desk and an old painter’s easel. I displayed blue mason jars and vintage suitcases, since they were relatively cheap and easy to find. When I was in college, I would buy clothes at the thrift and sell them on consignment as a way to earn money. Initially, I was looking for a way to earn some money while being home and available for my 3 kids. Vintage has always been a passion for me. It’s also a way to reconnect to the past and save a piece of history. There’s also the sustainability component; as I see it, these items are still useful. Maybe not all of them can be used in their original form but they can be reimagined. So when my parents downsized and I moved into a smaller house at the same time – my brother suggested my mom and I start an Etsy store. As an outlet to keep us thrifting. It was brilliant. Though my mom was not interested in the day to day aspects of the business, she was my inspiration. Hence the name MeMe, that’s what my kids call her, and Me.

Tell me about your product and brand?

I sell vintage. A lot of the items I sell are one of a kind.  It’s a curated experience. I love the idea of giving these old items a new life. And they add so much character and history to a space. I sell items from a variety of periods, from the 1800s through 2000,  and although I have a certain aesthetic personally, I get excited to find and sell what others are looking for. Since my buyers aren’t able to touch and hold the items, in addition to photographing them from all angles, I try to describe the feel and weight of each item. I also provide as much detail, history and context as I can, such as the use and commonality of the item in the time period, and any background on the materials used. Some centuries or time periods are reproduced, for example, and I want the person who owns a piece to know how to tell that it’s the original.

What struggles have you faced when starting up a business?

Since I had never started a business before, my first struggle was learning general business practices. I had to figure out how to pack items which are sometimes oddly shaped or fragile, store and organize listed and unlisted inventory as well as marketing, including updating my photography skills, differentiating myself in the marketplace, and finding the right platforms for selling.

How did you get over them?

There are other tricks I’ve picked up through trial and error. I’ve learned ways to save money on shipping I’ve become better at organizing and making use of limited space. As for differentiating oneself, I’ve learned the best way is to be authentic. Just be you.

Any advice for others just getting started?

My best advice is to find a group of others in your field. I found a wonderful group of vintage sellers early on, and we  have been a great source of knowledge and support for each other.

Do you have a favourite quote?

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” – E.E. Cummings

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