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Meet Stephanie Schipper of Schipper Vintage in Ventura

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Schipper.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a third-generation shop owner. My grandfather owned a fine men’s and women’s clothing store for over 40 years in my small hometown and my father owned a clothing store when I was a teenager. So you could say selling clothing runs in the family. Fun fact, my company is named after my grandfather’s clothing store which was Schipper’s Clothing. I like to think I’m continuing the family retail business with a sustainable approach for this generation of consumers.

Fashion has always been a huge part of my life. Styling and merchandising have been my passion for as long as I can remember. I used to pick out my dad’s suits and ties for work when I was young and loved playing dress up in my grandmother’s beautiful dresses from the 40s and 50s when we would visit. After graduating college, I struggled to figure out what I really wanted my career to be. I had aspirations of being a buyer for a major fashion retailer, the person who designed store window displays and climbing the corporate ladder of a fashion brand. So I thought I’d start working in retail and figure out how to go about it from there.

I worked in retail for many years and learned so much from each company that I worked for. From interacting with clients in the fashion industry, working in retail operations for a major beauty company (basically understanding how a larger retailer functions behind the scenes), being in wholesale/sales for an indie leather handbag designer to working in ecommerce for a sustainable bedding and textile brand, it seemed only natural that my next role was to take all of this information I had acquired and start my own business.

Great, 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?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road but I knew going into it that it wouldn’t be. Nor would I want it to be. I believe all of life’s lessons are in the bumps and detours along the way. It’s what we learn about ourselves during those challenging times and how we choose to show up to deal with them that are the important pieces to pay attention to. The saying “It’s the journey not the destination” has never made so much sense to me before. Anything worth doing is worth doing all the way and life is bound to throw some curveballs at you (otherwise, what’s the point right?) Life, in my opinion, is about overcoming challenges and adversity to truly become your authentic self.

My biggest struggles have always been with myself. Changing my mindset and self-talk was something that I needed to do a 180 on in order for me to move forward with my business. Building a routine and structure while trying to achieve balance in my workday on a daily basis is still one of my biggest challenges but one I’m determined to keep working on.

The easy piece of this business is what comes so naturally to me, the curating and styling. But that’s only one piece of the business. Being the person in charge of everything else, the marketing, social media, online research, financials, photography, copywriting and website management are also other hats that I wear and they’re ones that I’ve had to motivate myself to learn since I don’t have the funds to hire out at this point in time. But even with all of this, it feels right and I know I couldn’t be doing anything else.

Please tell us about Schipper Vintage.
Schipper Vintage is a collection of curated vintage apparel and accessories inspired by the laid back California lifestyle. I was born and raised in Northern California and as of last year am now a So Cal resident so my style and vintage curation is definitely influenced by the landscape of our beautiful state. Most of my vintage comes from the 70s -90s, with 70s bohemian vintage being my favorite if I had to choose.

Each vintage piece is hand-picked based on quality, fabric, construction and silhouette. I search for vintage made from mostly natural fabrics (cotton, silk, wool, linen) because they take less of our earth’s resources to create, they take less time to biodegrade and tend to hold up much longer than clothing made from synthetic fibers (polyester, rayon, nylon and acrylic). Most of my pieces retain a classic and timeless look to them so they can be worn for years or decades to come and still be relevant and in style. I love a good blazer, some vintage Levi’s 501s and a classic leather moto jacket.

My aesthetic and how I style vintage pieces together is what sets me apart. I have the ability to see the potential in vintage pieces and bring them to life when styling. Each piece I find while out sourcing only comes home with me if I can imagine how I’m going to style it. Overall my aesthetic can be pretty easy and comfortable, I’m almost always in vintage Levi’s so most of my pieces will always look great paired with some denim. One of my favorite parts of owning this business is getting to see who connects with each piece and how they go on to style it with their existing wardrobe. A fellow vintage seller once said to me that we are “fashion messengers”, bringing fashion to the people and I couldn’t agree more.

There are a lot of people who are selling vintage either online or through a brick + mortar which is so great! I love that each seller has their own style, point of view and specializes in a specific vintage era which is what makes shopping vintage so fun – there truly is something out there for everyone and the likelihood that you’ll see another person in what you’re wearing is very very slim.

I’m most proud of owning a company that is doing something positive for the planet. When someone chooses to buy an item vintage/secondhand vs new we are keeping clothing out of landfills and protecting our earth’s resources (making one pair of denim requires almost 2,000 gallons of water!). My aim is to provide knowledge and awareness in regards to the fashion and textile industry so we can all make better decisions when it comes to consuming. Learning about the production of fast fashion and the textile industry’s extremely harmful effects made me look hard at my own shopping and consumption behavior and I realized I had to make some major changes. I want to leave this planet in a better place than when I arrived.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite memories of childhood is when my mom would take my sisters and I downtown to visit my grandfather and dad the shop. We would run through the store and hide in the clothing racks then run upstairs to say hi to Sprina, the store’s seamstress, and who was always excited to see us. Then we would run back downstairs to the cash register where there was always a stick of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum waiting for us.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Black + White photo credit: Leslie Carvitto

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