A graduate in fashion merchandising and management of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Kristan Green had been dreaming of having a brick and mortar fashion storefront for nearly a decade. Life changes following school put the idea on pause for a while, but in the interim, Kristan began building up a robust online presence for her brand Guru Vintage + Modern.
The business started off as an Etsy shop focused on vintage clothing from the 1930s-1970s, the latter era being, in Kristan’s words, her true love. The rise of social media shopping and a decline of availability of the earlier eras encouraged Kristan to transition her shop to Instagram and shift her focus to 1980s and 90s clothing, which was easier for her shoppers to fold into their current wardrobes. With a dedicated customer base and a clear plan forward, Kristan was ready to make the storefront leap.
But the leap from a virtual shop to a physical one isn’t easy and Kristan had a lot of questions – could she afford the ongoing rent and overhead of a storefront, would she need a loan to make it happen, and could she leave her day job and dedicate herself to the shop full time? With these questions in mind and a solid recommendation from a friend, Kristan reached out to the CEI Women’s Business Center. Over the course of several appointments, her counselor walked her through financials and projections, helping her come up with a sustainable pricing plan for her goods and determining what income would be necessary to support her full time.
“I’m more of a right brain person, so it was helpful to have everything written out and walked through step by step,” Kristan recalled. Following her meetings, Kristan had the answers to her initial questions: she could afford the rent on a storefront and rather than taking a loan, her counselor helped her realize that she would be better served providing the funds from personal resources, which she described as a notable lack of pressure from an organization that also makes business loans. As for that last question, could she focus on Guru full time? The answer was – not yet, something this passionate entrepreneur sees as a challenge rather than a downside.
Guru Vintage + Modern opened its storefront in downtown Bath in the summer of 2019, and it’d be hard to find a brick and mortar shop more literally brick and mortar. The carefully curated collection is displayed in the stylish apartment-like environment in a way to encourage shoppers to explore each piece and make a connection prior to purchase. Something Kristan hopes encourages people to shift their shopping habits to something more environmentally-friendly:
“Fast fashion has conditioned us to disposability. I researched a lot of ethical and sustainable new brands for inclusion in the store, but we don’t need new clothes – there are so many clothes out there already. I love what I do and I get to do the legwork for others. These are clothes that have lasted 25 years and that have another 25 years left in them.”Kristan Green, Owner, Vintage Guru + Modern
Having just finished the third month in her storefront, Kristan is excited to see what a full year in the location will bring as she continues to work to bring environmental sustainability to the fashion industry and economic sustainability to her business.
Learn More About Guru Vintage + Modern
Looking to Start or Grow Your Own Woman-Owned Business?
CEI’s Women’s Business center offers business advising, workshops and events for women in business. Our experienced, knowledgeable business specialists can help you at any stage of your business, from start-up to expansion. To learn more, visit https://www.ceimaine.org/women/