After spending time selling her vintage finds in Portobello, Greenwich and Spitalfields markets, Stella decided to set up her own online shop, The Stellar Boutique. Having worked on the idea for two years, Stella decided on the name because it incorporated her name (Stella) without actually being directly about her. The boutique officially opened its ‘virtual doors’ in July 2009. Here, Stella gives Neandra Etienne a glimpse into her vintage world, talks about her love of James Dean and why she’s still a hippie at heart.

Neandra Etienne for QoV: What has been your most favourite item in the shop?

Stella: It’s difficult to narrow it down to just one piece! Some of my current favourites would be the Raj style vintage brooch for it’s quirkiness, the floral jumpsuit is pure Eighties at it’s best, the Chanel style twin set is particularly cute and I love the Eighties Americana biker T-shirt as it’s so iconic and incredibly current! That’s one item I really wanted to keep for myself!

QoV: If you could step back into time, what decade would you travel to and why?

Stella: Oh, good question! Well, I’ve always been a huge James Dean fan so I’d have to go back to the Fifties at about age 15 and experience the dawning of  ‘the teenager’! That would mean I would be in my twenties to get the very best out of my favourite era – the Sixties. To have been a part of the hippie movement and of course to experience Woodstock would just be amazing. For me, the music, fashion and philosophy of that decade has defined so much of what we are today. Peace and love all the way!

QoV: Describe what a typical day is like for you?

Stella: My typical day starts at around 9am. Feeding the menagerie and walking my dogs is first on the agenda. Next is a trip into town to the post office to send off the customer orders from the last 24 hours. Then, armed with a coffee and a roll up, my laptop (and music) goes on at around 11am and I start by working my way through the mountain of emails from press, customers, designers and suppliers.

This can often take up the majority of my day but I try to keep the afternoon free for photo shoots and uploading new products. I have to prise myself away from the computer at around 6pm for the second dog walk of the day, then it’s back to work which usually ends anywhere between 2-4am in the morning. I am a bit of a night owl and I find I am at my most creative and productive in the early hours.

QoV: How do you feel the vintage market has changed since you first opened?

Stella: It’s very interesting to have witnessed the evolution of vintage clothing over the last 15 years. When I started collecting, it was simply called ‘retro’. It’s only really over the last 10 years that the term ‘vintage’ has been used for clothing as opposed to just cars & wine etc.!  Of course there have always been vintage collectors, but the last decade has seen a massive shift in attitudes towards vintage clothing.

There used to be a lot more resistance towards the concept of wearing ‘second hand’ clothes. Fortunately, it’s no longer viewed in such a way and I am delighted that the rest of the world has cottoned on. Vintage clothing is now very much ‘in vogue’ and has been propelled into the limelight by iconic fashion figures such as Juliette Lewis, Kate Moss and Chloe Sevigny.

QoV: Have you got any advice or tips for new customers wanting to visit your shop?

Stella: The concept for The Stellar Boutique derived from the idea that you can shop for your wardrobe, home and lifestyle all under one roof. I wanted to create an outlet where shoppers can buy something original and one-off that they won’t find in the average high street store. I make it my mission to scour the globe looking for unique items to encourage people to have fun with fashion and experiment with their own personal sense of style.

I try to distance myself from the current ethos of teaching your customers ’how to dress like a celebrity’ like at so many other online shops. This only leads to the death of originality. Look out for the menswear new and vintage collections which are coming soon, meaning you’ll be able to pick up a little something for the man in your life at the same time – perfect guilt free shopping!

www.thestellarboutique.com

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