If one man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure then Toni Walker is a treasure hunter. Or better yet, she is the modern day Indiana Jones of fashion. Her job is to traverse the wild and tumultuous badlands of vintage wholesalers, flea markets, and estate sales scouring for those precious gems that will not only yield a return but have some emotional or aesthetic significance to her as well. Conventional fashion buyers are tasked with tracking trends and knowing what’s “in”. From time to time they must also make purchases of things they do not personally like on behalf of the company they are buying for. With Fair Season, Toni relies heavily on her personal taste to dictate what she picks up and puts back down. As a curator, one of her primary resources is her own taste in what is good. As a business woman she must also manage the sell-through and be resourceful about where she procures her pieces and how she sells them.
“There is a a lot of labor involved.”, Toni declares as she describes a typical day shopping. “There are these big warehouses with huge piles of clothes that you have to schlep through to find what you want.” It certainly doesn’t sounds as glamorous as she makes it look. If you visit her Etsy shop you’ll find soft toned photos of her in mid flight, adorned in patterned dresses, one pieces, and vintage denim. The name Fair Season was inspired by the Nico song, The Fairest Season. Sonically, the tune moves along with a charming melody and Toni is no less charming herself.
Since Toni works with vintage garments, they are mostly one of a kind. Where she goes to find what she needs does not always yield the same results with each buying trip. Any of us that have gone vintage shopping can understand that there is a bit of fortune at play when ever you visit these markets. The difference is that Fair Season is a business with fixed expenses that can not be reliant on “good days” or ” bad days” in shopping. She has to continuously select pieces that will move on her site and get the best price. Knowing where to source is critical to her success.
After the goods are purchased they are not usually ready to be turned around and sold. There may be some small alterations that need to be made. Some items may need to be washed for stains or died. Still product shots need to be taken, uploaded to the site, and when items are sold they need to be packed and shipped out. She is not only the buyer and marketer but the inventory and shipping department as well. She’s got plenty of experience at it though. Before starting Fair Season she worked as a retail manager of two location in New York.
It was there that she learned the ins and outs of selling apparel. All that experience translated to an education that she relies on heavily to run a small business. Those hours many of us have spent behind boutique counters don’t have to be a waste. It seems Toni has learned to extract that education and put it to use for herself, she is resourceful indeed. The same considerations a manager or owner has to make when choosing a location to set up shop Toni has to make when deciding which venues to showcase her goods. It is not only a matter of where, but also which items do better in each context or market. The understanding of her clientele serves as great tool for both her business and creative inclinations.
When we talk about a person being creative, or inventive we often think of someone who is making something completely new. If we are to make full use of our resources we must also look to reuse those things of the past that still have value. It requires us to tap those store houses for goods and materials that we once perceived as past their use and imagine how and where they fit into our future. This is exactly the work that is done with Fair Season.
The lesson we learn is that, we can and should seek to fulfill our personal and economic needs with items that can be reclaimed or reused first before gratuitously depleting new resources.