Curating Safe Creative Spaces with Allie GlennOct 11, 2022
Thanks for joining this week’s conversation with myself and guest Allie Glenn, the creator of Capo Vintage.
What was your path like getting here to where you are today?
I grew up in the church, singing in the choir, dancing in the dance ministry, etc. Art was a major form of communication and expression throughout my childhood. I grew up and went to North Carolina Central University where I first majored in textiles and apparel, but I switched over to mass communications, which is where I found my calling while writing for the school paper as their arts and entertainment editor. I was assigned stories that covered the Durham community, which introduced me to a new community of creatives and opened me up to a whole new world.
I also thrifted a lot in college because I had a “Broke college student” budget. I was very fashionable and used my clothing to express myself. By the time I graduated in 2015, I thought,
“I have all this time, all these clothes, and connections within the Durham art community”, and I got the idea do start doing pop-up shops where I would be a vendor and a musician in addition to inviting other local artists to come and I started curating events where I was creating community where we could all thrive and be who we are.
I love how Durham created space for us. I was popping up in different areas and I could walk into an art gallery or other location, pitch my idea, and they were immediately agreeable. It was from there that I started Capo Vintage and my brand came to life.
For people that are going through things, how can those tough times positively shape the future?
A lot of children go through traumatic childhoods and feel like they’re suffering from neglect due to an absent parent or a parent who’s an alcoholic, etc. and in these instances, the child often feels muted so they can’t often communicate with their parent how they’re feeling. When they find their niche, calling or talent, that’s really their communication and therapy to express how they’re feeling.
As a young person, I remember falling in love with music. I fell in love with Lauren Hill at about six years old through my connection to my older brother who listened to the Fugees when he would pick me up from school. I knew that even at a young age, music was my outlet. I fell in love with listening to it, singing in the car, and even created my own songs at home.
Now this passion has manifested in a lot of ways and you are expressing your creativity in a lot of ways. Can you tell us about Capo Vintage and tell us the heart behind that?
Capo Vintage is my brand where I go to the thrift store, find hidden gems, and then I reconstruct them and give them new life. This reworking that I do is essentially sustainable fashion. It comes with a sense of uniqueness and it’s eco friendly.
I was at the nail salon one day and I was thinking about how there are so many more clothes being made today than there were back in the ‘70s. In addition to this excess, the material that these clothes are being made with aren’t biodegradable so when people are done with them, they end up in landfills which are terrible for the environment.
One incentive for reworking clothes instead of throwing them away or donating them, is that it’s great for the environment. Secondly, you would have a one of a kind piece that may have people stopping you in the streets to find out where you got your item of clothing from. One main reason I reconstruct clothing is because I truly enjoy sewing. I enjoy looking at a piece and seeing something else in my mind. I start with my imagination and I get to work bringing an old piece back to life. I truly enjoy the process of crafting the piece and wearing the final product.
When I think about restoring gems and bringing them back to life, it feels deep and symbolic. How does that apply to the way you approach the world?
I can’t answer that question without incorporating my faith. When people are in a new relationship with Christ, He revives us and makes us anew and we are extensions of Him. He’s given me my talent, so I do the same with my clothes by taking once worn things and creating something new from it.
I believe the purpose of business is bigger than money. How do you find your purpose and what you’re on this planet to do and infuse that into your work?
I would start by first identifying the things that you love to do in life that you can’t see yourself stopping. Ever. You can do this by asking yourself a few questions: What is the thing that comes natural to you, so much so that you feel you could do it in your sleep? What’s on your heart? What are you drawn to that helps others?
For me, it’s always been fashion and sewing. From childhood to teenage hood, I was always making little adjustments here and there to my outfits that made them stand out. I love being different and expressing that through my clothing. I love the inspiration that comes from me fully expressing myself as a fashionista.
How did you make it real? Your love for fashion evolved over time into the idea of running a fashion company so talk about that journey.
I had a best friend from the age of nine and we ended up going to the same high school and we learned fashion together. We would thrift for bell bottom jeans and sew them into straight legs and bleach denim jackets to make them fit our style.
When I got into college, I joined a modeling troupe and had to style about thirty girls and guys using the thrift store. Over the years, I gathered more clothes and model friends who would shop my closet because I had so many clothes and I had an eye for fashion. After I graduated, I thought that I could take all the clothes I had and make it a brand.
If I don’t like what I have on, I don’t feel comfortable. The clothing that I put on my body is an outward expression of who I am. It is a language that communicates who I am before I open my mouth to speak. I always knew I had a voice and that I had a lot to say, but I have often felt muted and shy in a way that you would never guess from the way that I show up, the way that I dress. My outfits helped me to open up because they tend to be conversation starters.
You do so many things that are important to you and who you are, does setting priorities come naturally to you? And how do you shift your focus when you need to?
I struggled with that for a while, but I recently hired a business coach to help me understand how to do it. I had to sit down and get real with myself, which helped me realize that I can’t do all of it at once. I had to figure out what I’m most passionate about and pay attention to what’s most demanded from me and then hone in on that, while building a timeline for the other things.
I approach things by season, because by the grace of God, I’ll have more time to do the other things I have a desire to do. There are some things that I am able to balance out or juggle at the same time. For instance, I do singer/songwriter events once a month and I have that scheduled out on my calendar a month in advance.
I also learned boundaries because people can ask and pull you in multiple directions. It takes practice to say, “No, I’m not focusing on that”.
As multi-passionate people, we can be pulled in many directions and it seems like we’re neglecting the pieces we’re not doing. When we stack our pieces strategically, however, we’re able to successfully leverage our work and set up solid systems for several successful streams of income. What are your thoughts on this?
You have to go in steps. You can’t build the foundation and jump straight into building the roof right after. The way this is showing up in my life is that right now, I’m building the foundation for what Capo Vintage is. I’m building a “Why” for my brand. This could lead to potential speaking engagements, but if I haven’t done the work to figure out that “why”, when the speaking engagement comes, I will look foolish and flighty.
By getting the foundation of my clothing brand, I am then able to create a stepping stone for my music in which I will be performing in my own clothes. I also want to inspire children, so now I have speaking and clothes and I’m able to speak with them about my work in a concise manner.
What were some of the first steps for you to take a hobby and form it into a successful business/brand?
For some reason, I always dreamed of having a website, but because I felt like I didn’t have a business mindset, it was always intimidating to me. With this in mind, I decided that before I set up my website, I was going to just pop-up! I’d buy some racks and hangers and sell my clothes, while creating a community around it.
I still started my business and created an Instagram page for it. Most of my business was spread through word of mouth and community. I did this for years. There are very successful businesses out there who operate the same way without websites.
I sat down and figured out my why. I had to figure out what I am trying to do for my customer through my business. I wanted them to be more than just a buyer/customer.
What would you say to somebody who is just getting traction with their idea and needs help moving forward?
I would start by figuring out your target audience. Answer the question of who you are trying to make your impact on or pay close attention to who you attract the most and then study them to figure out how your brand can best serve them. Then learn the best way to implement what you’ve learned.
What is something you wish you could tell young Allie?
I would tell her to keep going and stay focused. I would teach her how to set boundaries and that it’s ok to say, “No”. I would also tell her that you don’t have to jump at the first opportunity and just focus on why you’re here and the other things will follow.
How can the people connect with you?
You can reach me on instagram and I now have a website. You can also email me directly. Don’t hesitate to send me a message or email with any follow-up questions, a need for advice, or if you want to book me. I’m open to collaborating.
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