Today we’d like to introduce you to Alysha Cassis-Shaw.
Hi Alysha, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started my vintage brand Neutral Ground in the spring of 2017 after working for over 15 years in high-end fashion and embroidery design in NY. Leading up to my career shift and cross country move, I’d grown increasingly disillusioned with the industry. I felt the work I was doing, while creative, was inaccessible to most and unrelatable to how most people lived. Likewise, I could no longer turn a blind eye to waste and exploitation and knew the work I was doing was only contributing to it. So I took a step back and analyzed what parts of fashion and style still moved me. I found that my design research always included looking to the past for inspiration.
Likewise, I’d inherited so many pieces from the 70’s and 80’s from my Mom and much of that also informed me stylistically. Taking all of this into account, I decided that bringing the quality and craftsmanship of vintage to a modern audience was how I could make a sustainable fashion contribution that was still unique and interesting. Additionally, by curating almost exclusively in a neutral color palette and focusing on styles that are more classic than trendy, I knew I was filling a niche within vintage that wasn’t being widely addressed.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think it goes without saying that Covid 19 posed some unique and unforeseen challenges. Up until the spring of 2020, the majority of our sales were from in person events. While website sales were growing, that wasn’t where we were making our money. The pandemic really forced us to ramp up our social media presence, come up with cohesive marketing strategies and do all we could to create trust that a vintage product you could not try on, touch or feel was something you could be confident purchasing from us. I think building brand trust and recognition is a real struggle when you’re small business, you don’t have a brick and mortar and you are selling one of a kind product. I think we’ve managed to make it work but it’s definitely been on an accelerated timetable.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am the owner and curator of Neutral Ground, a vintage brand that focuses specifically on clothing and accessories within a neutral color palette. What I love about our perspective is its simplicity and classic nature. Having worked in the industry for so long creating items that were often wasteful and inaccessible, it feels wonderful to show people how they can create new and modern from what already exists. By focusing on style not trend, quality not quantity and a palette one can easily incorporate into their wardrobe, we’re making a contribution to sustainability in fashion that will truly stand the test of time.
We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
I think I’ve learned that authenticity matters. In this crisis, I think we’ve all craved connectedness and in doing so have really discovered who is behind many of the brands we support. For me, the veneer came down and the real talk happened and ended up being really beneficial. We connected with our customers in meaningful ways. We laughed, we cried, we danced, we spoke truth and we stopped trying to craft an image and discovered what the brand was really about. I thought going fully online was going to create distance; it was the exact opposite. It broke down barriers.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.shopneutralground.com
- Instagram: @shopneutralground
Anna Alexia Basile