Sunday, March 20, 2011

To Shorten or Not to Shorten, & a Couple of Nice Little Surprises

I am going to have tons of great prom and formal wear over the next few weeks, thanks to a huge estate sale.  Many, many lovely pieces.  The first order of business for some of them is to shorten them.  Since at the moment, in addition to being photographer, webmaster, and the head of shipping and receiving, I am also head seamstress at The Bohemian Closet, I'd better get my scissors sharpened.

For some of the dresses, the decision to shorten or not shorten is a no-brainer, but I'd like some feedback on a couple.  Here's the first one:

It's a beautiful Scott McClintock 80s sleeveless prom dress with gorgeous lace bodice.  Floor length, black velvet, perfect for prom, wedding or party.  Can't decide - shorten it, don't shorten it?

As I wrote in my last blog entry, I am extremely pleased with my new model, Sarah, and with the results of our first photo shoot.  That is not to say that I had usable photos for every single one of the outfits we shot.  Imagine my delight when the universe smiled on us providing eager buyers for the two that I was most perplexed with.  I woke up yesterday morning to find that two of the outfits I planned to reshoot in our next session had sold.  So I can check that off my list, thank you very much!

Like I said, we have tons of great prom and formal wear coming, so you'll want to check back frequently over the next few weeks at The Bohemian Closet

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 16
The past several days have flown by pretty much in a blur. Saturday was The Bohemian Closet's first model shoot, and we went through almost a hundred outfits. A marathon. And Sarah, our model, is already up on many of our listings.

I was extremely pleased with the photo session, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it affects sales. And the $60 photo studio rocks!

I've spent the days since editing and listing. Monday I stayed in my bathrobe all day, and drank a lot of coffee.  I'm used to working with PhotoShop, and am having to learn Gimp on the fly (that's the most popular open source photo editing package).  Took a little fiddling to figure out how to stitch photos together, create a unified look for all my listings, and get a banner on my display photos.  I could do it in my sleep now.

Lots of the photos were replacement shots for items that are already listed, but there were some new pieces as well. One was the gypsy boho skirt I bought with the original $50 rebate card. It will go up Thursday (St. Patrick's Day). So will the batwing keyhole back floral print 80s dress. Pictures below.

The update on my 30 day listing challenge with my $50 rebate card:
  • The Van Raalte slip sold for 14.50
  • The white sequin disco top for a disappointing 9.95 (the starting bid)
  • I am exchanging emails with a prospective buyer in the UK who is interested in the Jessica McClintock prom dress. If it sells, that will cover my electric bill
  • The Guess jeans have lots of lookers, 4 watchers, but no buyer yet
  You can check on my progress by visiting my store, The Bohemian Closet

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 8 - Under Construction

So the auction for the Spencer Alexis 2 piece outfit is ending tonight. As I'm writing this, it has 28 minutes to go, one bid of $59.97, and 7 watchers. Sometimes a lot of watchers can mean some last minute bidding at close. I'm hoping.

The Sandy Starkman jacket sold the other day, for 34.95. The Van Raalte slip has 2 bids and 7 watchers with almost three days to go. Good signs all.

I've been getting ready for my model shoot this Saturday. I've been constructing a studio. I took a look at my dining room table, and realized I haven't eaten at it since I moved in last July. Decided the dining room is now my photography studio.

First step was to make some light stands. Off to Menards for buckets, Kwik Krete, and 6 foot wooden closet rods. Viola, two sticks in a bucket, with enough weight to support work lights. I screwed a hook into the end of each of them, and they became light stands. Back to Menards for work lights with cords ($9.97 each), full spectrum 5000K fluorescent tubes (about $5.00 each), a painter's drop cloth (about $7.00), and some velcro.

Inside of a half hour, I had assembled the lights, gotten the wrinkles out of the drop cloth (tossed it in the dryer with a damp towel and a couple of dryer sheets), and velcroed the drop cloth to the wall, transforming it into a photo backdrop.

I spent a few minutes testing the photo setup, and you could say I'm pleased. I'm including before and after samples.

And after:

What a difference.  The color is great; the wall behind this sequinned top is a pale gold.

Okay, so I'm just about ready for my model shoot. If all goes well, The Bohemian Closet's new model, Sarah, will make her debut Sunday night.

And now to check back in on my auctions...the Spencer Alexis had two bids, closing at $60.97. Along with the Sandy Starkman jacket, I've almost doubled my initial investment. The Van Raalte slip has two bids. I am waiting on some of the items for the modeling session.

The phone bill has been paid, that leaves the lights and the internet bill for the month. I bought the $60.00 setup for the photo studio out of the earnings from the initial investment, and am hoping to turn some things around after the modeling session quick enough to avoid service interrup....

You can check on the progress of these listings yourself.  Click here to visit my eBay store,  The Bohemian Closet.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 5 - Musings on Vintage Trends

I have an eagle eye for vintage clothing in movies and on tv, and the latest sighting is on Big Love. I've noticed that when Nikki (Chloe Sevigne) and Bill (Bill Pullman) are in their bedroom, Nikki is often wearing what looks like beautiful vintage lingerie. The lace looks old to me, and the designs are subtly sexy, in keeping with her character's burgeoning self-awareness.

I've been listing some great 40s bias cut lingerie over the last few weeks and it's gotten me thinking about the relationship between film and fashion. When a huge costume drama comes out, elements of its style influence currThe Bohemian Closetent designers. The 60s and 70s were heavily influenced by Dr. Zhivago, The Great Gatsby and Bonnie and Clyde. It's popular to bash the clothes of the 70s, but there were lots of great clothes made then, as well as polyester leisure suits. That's the era of Dianne Von Furstenburg's classic wrap dress, Jessica McClintock's romantic Gunnies, and stunning modern art fabrics.

Who could have predicted the immense popularity of the 80s big-shouldered glitzy beads and sequins? What a handy talent it would be to spot the next trend.

Here's my guess from today's styles: the beautiful, embellished blazers and jackets that are wearable works of art. Pieces from small designers, small companies. And as always, quality, quality, quality.

Day 5 Update:

One day left for a couple of the items I bought with my $50 rebate card. Saturday is not a big shopping day; everyone waits until Sunday. Picking up a few watchers, but no bids yet. We'll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Getting the last couple of things ready to list for tomorrow, and you can bet I'm going to hit it bright and early to avoid the bandwidth problem later in the day. You can check on the progress of these listings yourself.  Click here to visit my eBay store, 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 4 – List Or Wait?

As you know if you've read the previous posts (haven't read 'em? Better start!) yesterday I had technical glitches that kept me from getting as many items up as I would have liked. I attributed this to Thursday night being a very big night for launches on eBay vintage sites, and thought the listing web site I used was bogged down. Well, same thing happened around three o'clock today. Okay, I learn slowly, but I do eventually learn – I need to do my listings in the a.m.

Managed to get a couple of other listings up, but was getting a funky message about the photos not being online anymore. I'll have to double check them tomorrow – nice and early!

So, here's my quandary for the day – I have a model who is going to come over for a photo session a week from tomorrow. She couldn't do it this week because she's on a cruise (I hope she doesn't spend much time at the buffet). I know that the 80s stuff I bought will sell much better and bring a bigger price if I wait and list it with a live model photo instead of a mannequin shot.

I have tried really hard to make my mannequin cool. About a year ago when I was doing some listing, I bought her some hip sunglasses, a denim miniskirt, and a wig. I think I tossed the wig, which is okay, because it was kinda creepy. In fact everything about Samantha (that's what I call her – yes, I gave my mannequin a name) is a little creepy. She is missing a hand. Her arms are peeling, and one has lost some sizeable chunks of plaster. At one point, it completely fell apart, and I had to put it back together with packing tape. Not sexy at all.

On the other hand, I have to tell you that Samantha has a lot to recommend herself. She is 6” tall, and wears a size zero. She never has b.o. She doesn't show up drunk and hit on the photographer and male model. She doesn't blink when the flash goes off. She doesn't mind the velcro I stuck on her head to hold the wig on. She's not always texting when she should be getting ready for the next shot. All in all, she's a pretty fine employee.

Still, it's hard to look hip when you're plaster.

I spent some time comparing vintage 80s listings with live models and without live models. Without a doubt, the sellers that use live models outsell the mannequin and dress form jockeys many times over. So, I'm afraid Samantha will have to go into retirement.

I have decided to list the older vintage items I bought with my $50.00 rebate card (the slips, the 1950s purse) and the non-vintage items (prom dress, etc.). I'll bite the bullet for another 8 days and wait on the coolest of the 80s vintage stuff I bought.

Here's the status on the initial investment:

First, a little background. For anyone who isn't familiar with the way items can be listed on eBay, you can list things either as store inventory or as an auction.

With store inventory, the seller sets a fixed price and waits for a buyer to find the listing. The drawback to this type of listing is that store inventory doesn't pop up when someone does a search unless there are only a few auction listings for the same type of item. So the likelihood of having your listing noticed is lower than with an auction.

With an auction listing, the seller sets a starting price, and hopes that market forces will drive the bidding to a high price for the item. The risk is that the item may sell for the starting price. I have lost some magnificent vintage pieces to starting price. The reason sellers are willing to risk listing items at auction is the hope that the bidding will go high, and that buyers and watchers will visit their stores for similar items.

From the buyers' perspective, in auction listings they have to bid and then wait between three and ten days to find out if they are the winning bidder. With store inventory listings, they can simply purchase the item without waiting for an auction to run its course.

There is a sort of hybrid type listing, the auction with a Buy It Now price. This allows the exposure for the seller, attracting more traffic to their listing and maybe their store. For buyers who crave instant gratification, there is the option to Buy It Now, usually at a price that is in the neighborhood of where the seller would like to see the auction end up. Once someone bids on the item, the Buy It Now price goes away. It is not unusual to see items bid up higher than the original Buy It Now price.

The Spencer Alexis two piece outfit, which is an auction listing with a Buy It Now price is gaining watchers. With four days left, there are four watchers.

The Jessica McClintock prom dress is listed as store inventory, and still has only one watcher. Ditto the Sandy Starkman jacket.

The navy blue Van Raalte 1950s slip just went up yesterday, and already has two watchers with 6 days left to go. The white sequin 80s top also went up last night, and has one watcher. Both of these items are listed as auctions, I started them out low at $9.95.
You can check on the progress of these listings yourself.  Click here to visit my eBay store,  The Bohemian Closet.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day Three...Technical Problems

I had hoped to have most of the initial items I bought with my $50 rebate card listed and up tonight. The morning started out swimmingly. Put a couple of listings together for other items, and then saw that I had some sales I needed to ship. Halfway through packing, ran out of tape and had to run out to get some. Spent another 30 minutes packing, and then made a run to the post office.

When I came back, around noon, I sat back down to list. However, I couldn't upload pictures to my listing program. This usually happens late on Thursday afternoon when every other lister is trying to get their photos uploaded for the big Thursday night launch. I've never seen it start at noon.

I tried periodically throughout the rest of the afternoon, but no go. So what I had ready to go was gonna be it for this Thursday night. Not enough, in my opinion.

In order to keep myself from just sitting and obsessing over the listings that were closing tonight, as if I could will buyers into bidding, I decided to go see what I could come up with for the last $6.00 on the gift card. Snagged a high style 80s dress and a mint 1950s brown suede purse. Not too shabby.

Came home to find that some lively bidding had gone on while I was out. I may have to make it my routine to get out of Dodge when I have listings closing.

Tomorrow morning, I intend to hit it nice and early so that I have a healthy batch of listings ready to go up on Sunday night.

As for the items already listed, they have watchers, but no bids or buys yet.  You can visit my eBay store, the Bohemian Closet, by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day Two - The First Speedbumps

So today the real work begins. 

Vintage sellers will all tell you that the point at which you notice a faint spot, tiny snag or a few missing beads is when you are ready to photograph the item and list it. And so it was with a few of the goodies I purchased with my $50 rebate card.

The very unusual 40s rayon slip has some wear & tear on the rayon, not too surprising since it's about 70 years old; nevertheless, it will drop the final price.

The 80s acid wash denim Guess jeans have a faint spot on the thigh – looks like coffee. If that doesn't come out, that will lower the price they will bring as well.  I may have to check with some of the online experts on stain removal.

Earlier, I set some slips to soak in Borax (great for whitening lingerie) so while they're soaking, I can spot treat and wash the jeans and the denim skirt.

Upon close inspection I see that there are some missing bugle beads on the beaded evening wrap. That's no problem...I have a collection of beads, and can easily match them and make the repair.

The 80s white sequin batwing top is great – ready to list. So is the denim skirt, the gypsy skirt and a couple of the slips.

Wednesday PM:

I have another slip, the white top, the denim skirt and the gypsy skirt scheduled to list tomorrow night. I use a listing program that allows me to schedule listings in advance. Thursday and Sunday are when most vintage sellers post their items, and buyers know and check for new listings on those nights.

As far as the listings that are already up, each one has a watcher now.  The Spencer Alexis outfit that I listed yesterday is on a 7 day auction, and still has 6 days to go. Generally, most bidding takes place at the end of the auction. The goal earlier on is simply to pick up watchers. As you probably know, if you've ever bid on items on eBay, you can “watch” items you are interested in, and check on their price as the auction progresses. A high number of watchers is usually a signal that there will be several bids, resulting in a high ending price.

You can check on the progress of my initial purchases yourself.  Click here to visit my eBay store The Bohemian Closet