store owners

Coming Home – How Selling Vintage Made Meg Hemmings Feel Herself Again

It took a global pandemic to make Meg Hemmings find her true calling: selling vintage.
Coming Home – How Selling Vintage Made Meg Hemmings Feel Herself Again

“I had never really known who I was or who I was going to be in life before getting into vintage clothing. I felt like my life was kind of beige! I hadn’t really found many things that made me feel excited, but when I bought my first vintage dress at the age of 15 I felt this epic buzz that I hadn’t felt before. It felt like me, like what I was supposed to be wearing and it gave me so much comfort. And I was so excited because there were so many new fashion possibilities that hadn’t been there before.

a portrait of vintage vendor Meg Hemmings
vintage fair isle cardigan
vintage fair isle cardigan

I’m someone that has been into wearing whacky outfits my whole life, but could never really find the right clothing in modern stores. Growing up in the 1990s and 2000s in Australia, I didn’t see any modern designs available in the shops here that really felt like me. I wasn’t able to dress exactly how I wanted but I also didn’t know what clothes I liked either. I just knew that I didn’t like any of the modern clothes that were around me. I wanted something different but I had no idea where to look or how to buy anything out of the ordinary!

Discovering vintage felt like I was unlocking the door to an entire realm of weird and wonderful clothing that no one else could have.

It could just be mine because so much of what makes vintage special is that it’s unique. There aren’t going to be 100 people that you pass in a day wearing the same vintage dress as you, like what would happen if you wore solely fast fashion. 

60s Joseph Magnin

I started selling vintage in earnest at the end of 2020 after I returned to Australia. I had lived in the UK since 2016. Then in 2019 my partner and I were sick of living in London and the grind that comes with it, so we bought a van and went travelling around the UK, and into Europe. I was trying to get on top of some health problems and taking a much-needed break from work, but had to cut my adventure short bcause of the pandemic.

Starting my own vintage shop was always something that I thought I would do eventually. It just took a global pandemic for me to actually do it! I decided to sell vintage during this weird time because it felt like coming home. Vintage is a comfort for me, we’ve known each other for 15 years, so it just felt like a pleasure to start my business, Clashy Vintage.

I felt like I needed to go back to my vintage roots. I started thinking about the first vintage dress I bought. I was 15 and at a Sydney vintage fair. It was a white 1950s dress with small pink roses on it. It was the most perfect dress I had ever seen. 

I just knew that if I started selling vintage, it would ease my troubled mind and make me feel like myself again. And it has!

I’m also a copywriter and I write creatively too and for most of 2020, I was trying (and failing) to keep my writing career going. My brain felt so burnt out and I realized that I needed to change things up. Selling vintage was the respite I needed for sure.

I’m in Tasmania now because my parents bought a farm here. I needed somewhere to safely isolate during the pandemic as I have a chronic illness. The idea of getting the virus was a very scary prospect for me, so as soon as I could get a flight, I left Europe for Australia, and now I’m just figuring out my next move.

I definitely recommend making life changes to others. Whether it’s moving somewhere new or trying out a new career. I think if you love vintage and you’ve got a good eye for what looks cool, then starting a vintage shop is an easy way to capitalize on those things.

I primarily sell vintage from the 1960s and 1970s as these are my favourite eras for fashion, but I’ll sell anything with a fabulous print or fabric. Technically ‘clashy’ isn’t a real word, but it often gets used as slang for things that clash. That’s the vibe I go for in my business and I guess my life really. 

Everything I personally own is vastly different in style, colour, and print. I don’t have a typical aesthetic. I think there’s a lot of pressure of people to find their personal aesthetic. I don’t really have one. I guess if I did, it would be clashy! I wanted other people who have a more random, dress-how-you-feel kind of vibe to their wardrobes to feel like they have a place that’s just for them. 

It’s a mix of ugly 70s dresses, and pretty 1950s dresses. Radical paisleys, and delicate hand-blocked florals. It’s a place where people can figure out who they are on that day, because I firmly believe that we don’t have to be the same person everyday and we often aren’t. 

The biggest challenge has been getting eyes on my clothes. I sort of just assumed that if you have good products and good pictures that people will find you, and they will eventually but I didn’t realize the time it would take to build an audience. It takes a lot of time and consistency too! I’m not great at being consistent because my health can often get it the way, but I’m trying and my audience and sales have been building well. 

The biggest reward I think has been getting feedback from people who tell me how much they love their vintage garms, and seeing those pieces on their new owners too.

Since becoming chronically ill, my life has changed dramatically. I was originally a pastry cook and I became sick during that job. I really had to pivot into something less physical as my body could no longer handle the demands of full-time cooking so I picked writing and editing as a new career path.

Now I’m selling vintage as my main money earner which has given me the headspace I needed. I feel like I can rely on my instincts with vintage because it’s been part of my life for so long. 

Selling vintage has definitely given me the space I needed from writing to find the joy in it again. I’m now writing a novel on the side and it feels like such a pleasure, which is far removed from the struggles I was having with it before starting Clashy Vintage.

The vintage scene in Tasmania isn’t very big at all. I hope that the future of vintage business in all of Australia, and the world is going to boom. Fast fashion is littering the planet so I really hope that consumers start to slow down on what they’re buying and buy secondhand instead of new. There is so much good vintage and secondhand clothing to buy. 

As I’m not going to be living in Tasmania permanently – I pretty much move to a new city every few years – I’d love to take Clashy Vintage on the road with me. I would love to source while travelling, set up in new places, maybe branch out and do some pop-up stores. Who knows. I’m keen to see new places, sell vintage to vintage-loving babes, and look fab while doing it!

Vintage comforts me because it feels like me.

Vintage is my home and if I ever get lost, I know that I just need to put on something vintage and I’ll feel like myself again.”

Clashy Vintage