Online giveaways are really on trend right now! I try to organize a few myself because they’re really a lot of fun. I often enter those given by my favorite blogs! It is for sure a way for bloggers to get new readers or more followers on the social networks they are active within. They’re also a great way to promote their own creations and also an occasion for the readers to win something cute just by clicking a “Follow” or “Like” button. But it’s also a way for bloggers and readers to get in touch with each other and this is exactly what happened with Natasha Harden, owner of Halmoni Vintage in Oakland, California.
Natasha offered a $25 certificate to a random person liking her Facebook page during the giveaway. When she contacted me to tell me that I was the winner of the giveaway we realized that, as she doesn’t sell online, it was a bit too complicated for me to cash in on my winnings! But Natasha really wanted for me to have my prize so she sent me a “surprise package” with a lovely vintage pussy-bow shirt and a pair of vintage earrings that are featured in the blog pictures (paired with Max & Co black Harem Pants, Mango black blazer, vintage black faux fur, Guess ankle boots and Moschino Ladybug handbag)
Getting to know Natasha and Halmoni Vintage has been a very interesting experience for me: Halmoni is a vintage shop where history and art are coupled with a real love for vintage clothing. Natasha is not only a vintage seller, she also hosts local artists in her shop every first Friday of the month along with many different community events like cocktail parties and clothing swaps. Her shop is considered the center of a neighborhood’s Renaissance! Seems to me to be a far cry from the Oakland Gertrude Stein depicted in her book Everybody’s Autobiography, written in 1937, where she made the famous quote “There is no there, there” when talking about this beautiful Bay city.
I asked Natasha to tell us more about herself and Halmoni Vintage.
TLC: Natasha, can you tell us how this adventure started?
NH: I quit my job in February of 2011 because I was tired of working for a big company and being an undervalued worker. At 29, I wanted to start living my dream, but I wasn’t sure of what steps to take or how. But I have a super supportive partner and he encouraged me to do what I always dreamed of because life is too short not to try.
I began selling clothes in the streets of San Francisco under the name “Grandma’s Closet.” I would post up on busy street corners in the Mission district, hang clothes from a gate and wait for people to buy things from me. I got such a great response. People repeatedly asked me if I had a brick and mortar shop. I didn’t.
On one of my busiest days selling in the street, a cop stopped me and told me I had to stop selling for reasons A,B and C. Luckily for me, he let me off with a warning. I was freaking out about what to do and started looking at places for rent but in reality, I felt that I couldn’t afford anything. I have bad credit and I didn’t have a savings so, I thought, who would rent to me??? I was even looking at illegal office spaces because I was undervaluing myself.
I eventually stumbled across an open spot of possibility while walking around in Oakland. Upon meeting the owner of the building and checking inside of the space, I saw that it was perfect–I loved the size of the shop and the hip neighborhood!
Being a natural born hustler from the Bronx, I worked my magic and negotiated my ass off, so that I could start my shop!!! Despite my previous fears of being broke with bad credit, my official brick and mortar adventure, named Halmoni, started July 8, 2011 and has been booming ever since.
TLC: What are your favorite vintage pieces?
NH: My favorite vintage pieces are dresses from the ’50s and ’60s. I am plus size, so whenever I am out shopping and see plus sizes I have to buy them, even if they don’t fit me. I feel the need to rescue them because someone I know might need or want them. I am also a sucker for vintage earrings, especially the ones painted with enamel paint. My heart pretty much beats for anything vintage, so it is so hard to say I have a favorite.
TLC: Who is the woman in your tags? I loved them…you could say there’s a meaning in all those pictures and cards…
NH: My maternal grandmother is on my tags. She took care of me when I was younger and she recently passed away, so I dedicated my store to her. The word “Halmoni” means “grandmother” in Korean. It’s also allowed me to honor my “Grandma’s Closet” adventures by choosing a similar name that highlights my Korean roots–which makes the branding more personal.
TLC: What does vintage represent for you?
NH: Vintage represents my past and memories that I hold on to. When I shop for vintage, I am inspired by things that remind me of my childhood and things my parents and I had when I was growing up. It also represents craftsmanship and quality, since most vintage items were made with extra care and better materials as compared to contemporary items.
TLC: Can you give us some good advice on where to buy good vintage in the States? What are your favorite shops or markets?
NH: I think the key to scoring great vintage is digging and patience–I dig long and hard so I can always find something. Because of my knack for finding treasures, it is hard to say where my favorite places to shop are. I do enjoy flea markets because you never know what you will find. At most shops, items are separated and hung up, but at flea markets- you are digging [through] piles of who knows what.
(For the pictures of my outfit credit to: Maria Vollaro)