Remember when I mentioned wanting to collaborate with someone on something awesome? Well, I'd like to introduce you to Julia, the owner of Basya Berkman Vintage- a fabulous vintage shop on etsy. Julia is my first featured local guest and she's been kind enough to share a bit about herself. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have!
What are a few of your favorite things to do in Chicago?
Thrifting would be high on my list as it feeds both my shop and my creative soul! Some of my favorite pieces have come from the many neighborhood Salvation Army's and Village Discounts. One of my best finds was a red wool coat with black floral applique, c.1960s. I scored it for 49 cents and have worn it for over a decade now. My husband and I enjoy seeing plays and hearing live music. Remy Bumppo often puts on work by our favorite playwright, Tom Stoppard and Uncommon Ground in Edgewater has great local performers and good food.
What five things can't you live without?
In no particular order and focusing on just ”things”, of course: hot tea, hot baths, books – the “real” kind, my laptop, and sweater tights!
What's your favorite vintage possession?
My husband bought me two engagement rings (he couldn’t choose) from the 1930s/1940s that I treasure. One is rose gold and pearl and the other is white gold with gorgeously delicate scrollwork.
How do you put together a fabulous vintage outfit?
I prefer vintage mixed in unusual ways, often with modern pieces, so I'm all for not being afraid to try unusual combinations. Pair a fancy chiffon dress with chunky boots or wear a pillbox hat with jeans and a vest. Stay open to possibilities, so many things come to life on the female form that just seem dead on the hanger. Try it on! Also, everything looks better in heels. Learn to love them. Platforms and tall wedge heels can be pretty comfortable.
What's your favorite Chicago store, restaurant or etsy shop?
I love Bittersweet Café in Lakeview for incredible hot chocolate, sweets, and brunch. Akai Hana in Wilmette for the most kid-friendly Japanese food. Bookman’s Alley in Evanston is my favorite used book store hands down- it’s a world within a world. As far as clothes, I’m a shameless bargain hunter and enjoy the clearance racks at H&M and Urban Outfitters. For storefront vintage, the plainly named Antique and Resale Shoppe on the northwest side might be the best kept secret in town – affordable with an amazing selection.
How do you create balance between being a stay-at-home mom and an etsy shop owner?
That’s my biggest challenge. I work mostly in the evenings and on the weekends when my husband is home. I try to include my kids in my work when possible. They are expert estate sale attendees at this point and I’ve been meaning to ask my son to try his hand at some of my book-keeping, so that he can practice some arithmetic while seeing how much the business has earned that month. The best thing was when I stopped feeling guilty whenever I needed to pull myself away to do work related tasks, and realized how positive it can to be for them to see mommy excited and immersed in her work.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I can only gush and gush when trying to answer this! Apart from friends and fellow Etsy shop owners who are always doing amazingly creative things, I get inspiration from older movies, especially from Europe, they are full of incredible costumes and set designs that fuel me: Fellini, Tarkovsky, and Hitchcock, to name a few directors. I also can’t overlook films I saw growing up such as Flashdance and The Unbearable Lightness of Being where I consciously tried to copy the look of those heroines at different stages of my life. Style icons would include Bjork, Sophia Loren, and my aunt Victoria who turned me on to Erte when I was little. I still can’t shake the decadence he represents. Mad Men goes without saying, but I also adore British period dramas like Downton Abbey and The Cazalets. Then there are old fashion magazines and catalogues, as well as vintage and antique photographs that I collect. Finally, street fashion really excites me and I try to follow a few blogs/websites to get a feel for that. Here are three I like: leflattery, lookbook, keikolynn, plus one out of Finland which is pretty wild: hel-looks
How do you create your happy?
It so happens that homeschooling my kids, collecting vintage clothes, running my Etsy shop – all are things I love to do and there are few boundaries between my family, my work, and my hobbies. The happiest days are when my passions intersect and show me new and exciting paths.