Christmas 2017 and fabric identification December 16 2017
Hello fabric lovers
I hope you're all well and not too frazzled leading up to Christmas. I am frazzled as I failed to plan this year. Next year will be the year of planning as I am hopeless with time management (insert rolling eyes emoji).
We will remain open throughout December and January but it will be on an ad-hoc basis. As many of you know, we are parents and that means school holidays with two boys in tow. It means late night Star Wars cinema visits, beach days and bright orange sunsets viewed from the water. It also means I get even more frazzled as I have less time to myself (being the introvert I am, I love my 'me' time). I am not one of those calm school holidays Mums, I can tell you.
I thought I would beef up this blog a little, too. In an effort to pass down my knowledge I have gained over the 15 years of Retro Age, I am going to feature fabric types and weaves. The information will largely come from my collection of American Fabrics magazines. I have realised in recent months there is limited knowledge out in general fabric land regarding the names of certain vintage fabrics so I thought I'd copy from the source so you can learn, too.
Have a fabulous Festive Season
We started Retro Age in July of 2003. I was on maternity leave from my marketing job and had just given birth to our first child...a gorgeous baby boy who arrived with a grand set of lungs which he used 24/7. It wasn't an easy time. I needed a mental break.
I found eBay when our first born was one month old and set about selling our household surplus items. I loved it. My corporate advertising (hello St Kilda Road) and marketing background gave me the perfect experience to enjoy the new selling platform.
Once I had sold our house (just joking), I realised that I had fallen in love with the whole online selling experience. I had just finished selling part of my fabric stash and there seemed to be a market of buyers wanting old fabric with weird retro patterns. Well - that's what I thought. 70s patterns can be wild and weird and absolutely disgusting to some people.
So I set about setting up Retro Age as a legal business. I got my secondhand dealers license and business certificates and then I could legally sell old and used goods in Victoria - a law here. I opened up an eBay store and the rest, as they say, is history.
Our first website was launched in 2004 and we have had various platforms and softwares since. Our current 'modern' version is this Shopify one and it has thus far served us well. We have now had a worldwide website presence for 13 years!
However, the market is changing. With the onslaught of Facebook and Instagram - and even Snapchat - you can almost sell anything, anywhere. We've followed these trends as well as we could, all the while building our website presence and reputation.
Most people love the website experience and will only buy here - other buyers pop up on Instagram when we have a sale. Facebook has died as a selling platform and we no longer have our closed group or Facebook sales.
This year we changed our focus away from the website for the first time and embraced Instagram as a selling platform. It's not the easiest way to sell a product. Yes, you have an audience who may see a photo in their feed (much harder now since Instagram changed their algorithm), but tracking sales, prices and uploading continuity was an issue. The other issue is a flooded market by many people who use it as a hobby to sell wares they come across on their day-to-day adventures and not as a registered (and tax paying) business.
We had an awful experience with using the courier service Sendle for the first time. They lost a giant box filled to the brim with vintage sheets. Did you know they charge you a $100 excess to launch the claim process? Yes, they do! And the only reason we got our money back for our customer (apart from persistence) was a) we are a legally registered business and b) we could provide a verified PayPal business account transaction. Back to Australia Post we go!
The problem with using another selling platform like Instagram is a) we lost website customers and b) we had to double list our fabrics - once on Instagram and once on our website. This took an amazing amount of tax paperwork and time. We then had customers contact us, disappointed that we were selling some fabric only on Instagram and they didn't have Instagram accounts. You can't please everybody, but they had a point.
Thus, we've made the decision to return to focusing on our website. Things will change a little, though. We will no longer 'dribble upload', but will have sales on certain dates and times. We've reveal what's in these sales on our social media. Customers can buy the quantity of anything they like and progress through Checkout to obtain accurate postage options. And then we post it off - simple! And what doesn't sell goes into website stock - a win win for all, I think.
It seems like we've gone full circle with this renewed focus on the website. We started here 13 years ago and will continue to re-build it up over the coming weeks and months. Diverting off to social media was interesting and, in it's own way, successful - but, my feelings are - for a legal business to continue, prosper and expand, it still needs to focus on an impressive website presence. I got myself a little confused and returned to the 'hobby' selling stage when, in actual fact, we're one of the original vintage fabric websites and still one of the largest. Focus, Ness!
I am looking forward to the weeks ahead...
Simplicity pattern book scrap ideas from 1970 May 10 2016
These shots are taken from a Simplicity pattern book from 1970 - I thought I would give all of you fabric lovers a giggle and also some scrap ideas!
New search functionality and listing information March 04 2015
We are always trying to improve ourselves - our business, our service, our fabrics, our price. Anything that we think can be improved we'll work on. That includes giving our customers as much information as possible about each fabric.
NEW SEARCH CATEGORY - QUANTITY
We have now added in a new search category into our main bar near the top of the website. You can now view fabrics by the amount we have left.
This is a main category, so as soon as you select the size of fabric you're after, you'll also then be able to select the specifics you want - whether that be colour, design style etc.
NEW LISTING INFORMATION - WEIGHT
What we are also now including in our listings is the weight of the fabric per quantity. As you can see below, each quantity of this wool weighs 87g. This assists customers in working out exactly what fabric they want to ensure they get the best value for their shipping/postage buck. We need to retro-fit our listings with this information, but from now on we'll be adding it in.
That's all for now - but we're far from finished getting this website to exactly where we want it to be and how we want it to look. As we release new features we'll announce it here!
Creating a 'hold' account on Retro Age February 20 2015
We've had quite a number of enquiries regarding 'holding' fabrics to get the most value from posting/shipping in recent weeks. We can easily create an account name for you so you can progress through Checkout and pay only for the fabrics and not the postage/shipping every time you make an order. We process these orders as usual - preparing them and putting them aside. Then, at your request, we can invoice you for postage/shipping via PayPal when you've finished shopping over several days or weeks.
If you would like one of these accounts please don't hesitate to ask for one to be set up for you. We can do it very easily and are happy to pop fabrics aside for you for up to one month :)
First charm square listings are now live February 08 2015
As you can imagine - and as some of you have seen at Drysdale (ack - how embarrassing) we have an extensive remnant and off-cut collection spanning the 1880s onwards - yes, right up until the modern era. I never throw fabric out, no matter what the size, so I've got a whole room (from floor to ceiling) of divine remnants to upload. The remnants will be sold as fat quarters if they are that large - and then down to remnant or patchwork size.
The first 5" charm squares went live on the website tonight - just two little listings to start things off to give you a taste of what's ahead and to ease me in. Yep - that's right - all 5" charm squares are only 45c each, no matter if they are antique, vintage or modern. I wanted to be fair to vintage and modern quilters and crafters, so one price for all 5" squares it is!
Soothing time February 01 2015
Knowing I can now upload our entire collection to the website is quite daunting, as I know just how long it's going to take to get all of our pieces up on here. I'm having to remind myself to step back from the photographing/uploading cycle to just enjoy the fabrics. This is what I have been working on this weekend, apart from the usual family outings, coffee with friends, Queensland election watching and housework. I started to cut charm squares from our mountains of offcuts around six months ago, storing them in boxes as I went. I find it so relaxing and soothing to cut them. I used to sell packs on ebay years ago and had started to put some on the old website early last year, but I never added to our small online selection as sorting our remnant boxes (yes - those customers who have seen them recoil in shock and horror every time they see those boxes that fill ONE room) was a job I never got around to doing. Well, over these last school holidays I sorted all of them into colour, type or pattern. This weekend was a red weekend, as you can see. These fabrics range in age, from around the 1920s onwards.
Welcome to the new Retro Age Vintage Fabrics website November 06 2014
The time has come for the old Retro Age website to be laid to rest and a brand spanking new one to be launched and filled with vintage fabrics, sewing patterns and patchwork charm squares - not to mention lovely linens and general vintage sewing goodies. The old website has served us well since 2009, but with the onslaught of digital devices such as smart phones and pads we found the old software just could no longer keep up with what our customers deserved.
This new website is being launched with some fabric - but it's definitely not all. We finally have the capability to upload our entire inventory onto this new software - something we're very excited about. Please bare with us over the next couple of weeks as we work to iron out any new kinks in the website - be gone, internet gremlins! - and finessing your shopping experience.
If you have any feedback or you would like a specific feature added to our website please don't hesitate to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org - we love hearing from you!
Ness and Justin