Sunday, January 9, 2011

Introducing PhoebeDelia's Mercantile

I am lucky to say that my mother and I have a great relationship. She raised me in a world quite different from most. I grew up in an antique shop. As a baby I slept in beautiful antique, lacy baby gowns, laying in a lovely antique bassinet in my mother's shop. Customers were often surprised to see me stir, thinking I was a doll.

As I grew, most days were spent playing with scraps of lace or curled up with a book in a nest of satin quilts underneath a lovely antique table while my mother worked. Weekends were exciting expeditions to thrift shops, estate sales, auctions and the like, in search of treasure. My sister and I could spot a valuable antique from a mile away, and there were finders fees to be had. It was, and still is, my favorite game, hunting treasure.

Sewing was a big part of this. My barbies were the best dressed you ever saw, sporting real silk lined mink coats fashioned by my mother with scraps. Many of my clothes were hand sewn (though I never appreciated the work, or the originality of my wardrobe until years later when I tried to sew my first dress and thought, How the hell did my mother manage this?)
 My tastes always leaned towards the vintage dresses I had played dress-up in (who else had slightly tattered 1950's prom dresses, a real fur coat, and rhinestone covered everything in their dress-up box?)

I'm the little one in the massive hat.
Naturally, my antiqued, gilded, dusty and bejeweled upbringing has everything to do with my passions today. I wear vintage, I sew vintage, I hunt vintage, I blog and breathe vintage.
So it's only natural that my mother and I should still be in business together today. I'm web savvy and she has the know-all from 30 years of running an antique business. My sister and I both helped her start on eBay when it started up, and now Mom has two shops online, one on specializing in vintage sewing, clothing, jewelry, and accessories overseen by me and one on focusing on rare antiques.
She is my first sponsor for the blog (I'm over-payed in vintage couture, who could complain?) and I asked her to share a bit about herself. The story is great, and goes to show that following one's passions can lead to a life well lived, and on the glittering, lacy terms one chooses.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my mother:

 How did you get into selling antiques?

I had a new baby. I was bored out of my mind and one day I just decided to go garage-saling with a precious $10.00 and ended up finding some wonderful items.  I kept a few treasures and took the remaining items down to antique row and sold them off.  Taking my (somewhat excellent) profits I did this once a week and within three months of doing this, (yes the baby in the car seat all the while, my loot spilling all around her) I had enough items to open a small shop of my own.

Where does your shop name come from?
Phoebe Delia Hazelwinkle was my Great, Great, Great Grandmother.  I had often thought about creating a lingerie line that I would name after her but her name is now on my shop door instead.

What's the coolest part about your job?
There are so many wonderful things about my job.  For one, I get to shop for a living.  I get to watch someone find a treasure and watch them light up with smiles.  I get emails from folks that have received their item and their delight comes through in their words.  I have made a number of cyber friends over the years from repeat customers.  I also have the great satisfaction in the Green aspect. Reclaimed treasures that don't wind up in the dumpster are always a great reward to me.

What are a few of your all-time greatest finds?
Wow!  This is such a difficult question to answer as there have been so many.  A beautiful Royal Baun Vase with hand painted Iris, a fabulous cache of lace, the perfect silk velvet opera coat and the list goes on and on....

You are  a seamstress yourself. How do you manage it while running your own business?
Sewing has always been a true passion of mine.  When I was a child and got into trouble my mother wouldn't send me to my room.  Instead I had a choice of sitting down at the sewing machine or at the piano, and she in her infinite wisdom knew by the tone of either when it was safe to let me out. Many times I continued with my sewing project. My mother sewed wedding dresses in the community and I was often caught just watching her mastery. How she could create a beautiful cabbage rose out of a few scraps of satin was a marvel to me.  When I get bored or lonely or just plain restless...out comes the sewing machine either for a restoration project or taking laces and recreating them into something wonderful.  There is never a shortage in my cache of something that needs to be restored whether it be re-looming a fine piece of lace or saving a wonderful vintage piece.

How did you get started sewing?
In my family photo album there is a picture from the local paper of me standing at the age of 5 watching my dear mother, Marilyn, sewing a wedding dress on the first 401 model Singer sewing machine to come to that town.  It was a fabulous machine that is now being used by my sister.  She could have opted for a newer model but this machine runs like a champ.  By the time I reached junior high I was sewing my own clothing.  PS: I flunked the sewing portion of Home Ec. that year.  I was a know it all and the teacher was not pleased.

How did you get into helping costume movies, and what are a few of your 'movie credits'?
I was doing a vintage clothing show in Santa Monica and had had a very good show. The next day, just as I was about to leave for home, I got a call from a studio asking me to come set up my wares at the studio for others to pick from.  From there on is just history.  Many took my card and contacts were made.  My first movie (please keep in mind that there are hundreds of us that do this with no credits) was Age of Innocence, followed by Legends of the Fall,  many Hallmark movies, and The Addams Family ! !! !!! (a great place to get rid of the tattered black things).

I also contributed clothing to Amistad, The Quick and The Dead, a dress in the TV show Nip/ Tuck and of course Titanic.  I still have my autographed collectors book with a small remnant of the rhinestone hair ornament.  There are a few more that I can't recall.

There is just something about the antique textiles and jewelry not to mention the artistic design of so many antiques that just make me swoon with delight.  A small but precious chocolate box with a gorgeous woman on the front, the perfect pair of iconic vintage shoes to a simple piece of antique ribbon that is a work of art in itself.

Craftsmanship is a thing of the past but for the few of us that still have imagination.  Don't let it die. Let it come to you in dreams or what ever source it finds it way to you.  Happy Hunting and creating!

And of course, to you my dear readers, for 15% off your purchase at Phoebe Delia's use the coupon code loosethreads.
Thanks for reading!


  1. Anna, it was so fun to read your interview with your mom, Laurie. I was a high school classmate of your mom's. I hope PhoebeDelia's is a fabulous success!! Terry Taylor

  2. Wow. What a fun history. Inspiring. Will watch your site with vigor!

  3. Some of my favorite memories come from our 6th Avenue store. That is where the picture of us was taken. I do miss all of our adventures. When you get to come back stateside I will take you to my favorite antique store. You will love it. Stacked full of old books. Miss Ya!!!

  4. I loved reading your posts Anna. I am a childhood friend of your Mom's. Our family grew up with hers. You are a very talented lady, I'm very impressed. As a wife of a retired LTC. USANG,I relate to your life in the military. Enjoy your experiences, you will never regret the military life. Chris

  5. Love this post, and we have yet another connection - my ex-husband's last name was Hazewinkel! How funny is that?!