Anyone who knows me well knows I love love love shopping second hand gems. Clothes with some history are just so much more interesting. I love a good blend of designer and vintage in my closet. And when I travel to different cities, I adore bringing back new-to-me pieces from all over the world. On my recent travels to Santa Fe, I had the pleasure of meeting The Rowland's who own a fabulous upscale resale shop named Art.i.fact. I found some amazing treasures there and could not wait to share their story. This husband and wife team know their stuff and are doing fabulous things with their adorable little boutique that is ALSO an art gallery. Fashion and art are huge things in Santa Fe so I love the concept of blending it all together under one roof. I was so impressed!
-Art.i.fact is such an interesting name?! What is the story behind it?
An artifact is something precious, a lucky find. Part of our store vision is to have things that people "find", treasure, and feel just a little transformed in the process.
-Tell me a little bit more about yourselves and what inspired you to open an upscale resale shop?
I've been consigning for most of my adult life. I love clothes and fashion, so when we decided to open our own business, this was at the top of the list. Michael, my husband, was confident in my fashion savvy, so it didn't take too much arm-twisting! The other part of the story is this: About 16 years ago, we had a small art gallery in an up-and-coming neighborhood in Los Angeles. In the back of the gallery, we had vintage jewelry and clothing. Well, selling art turned out to be a lot harder than selling clothing and baubles, so when we decided to open a business in Santa Fe, we turned the equation around and put the clothing, jewelry, and accessories up front and kept a small (but gaining a lot of attention!) art space in the back. It's worked out really well, because without the pressure of having to sell art to maintain the business, we've been able to show artists who often work outside the traditional Santa Fe gallery world.
-What are some great tips for a Vintage shopping newbie? And second hand designer duds as well?
Don't go into a consignment store looking for a specific item. The fun thing about consignment is the discovery! Be open-minded, since sizing differs for just about every label. Try things on that stretch your comfort zone - you may learn that red is a good color, or that pencil skirts are flattering on your shape. Don't get hung up on what's in for the season, especially with designer clothing. Luxury brands are expensive because the quality is high, so you can generally feel safe buying a Chanel and know that a) it will last and b) the style is perfect if it looks perfect on you!
-What's a piece of advice about style and building the perfect wardrobe for yourself that you have learned over the years?
My personal wardrobe is constantly changing because I get bored with my clothes and always find something new (at least, new for me) that is more appealing than what's hanging in my closet. That's what originally fueled my passion for consignment - I could change things up as often as I wanted without feeling guilty because I invested a lot of money on off-the-rack new items. That said, though, I would suggest knowing what colors make you feel good and look good. When you have a core set of colors in your wardrobe, it's easy to add pieces that work within that palette.
-What are your favorite Santa Fe trends?
Boots, boots, boots! I love boots! Cowboy boots, ankle boots, pointy boots, square-toed boots. I could go on.
-Most interesting piece you ever consigned? And why?
I am the coat repository for my family - somehow I ended up with a couple of minks, including a floor-length mink coat. It was lovely, but didn't fit my lifestyle. I consigned it and earned enough money to cover medical care that my dog needed. That was definitely a good thing!
-What do you enjoy most about working in the fashion retail business?
I absolutely love helping people find something that makes them feel beautiful.
-Biggest blindspot in your business?
There are hundreds of designers and labels. It's really hard to know them all, and it can even be hard to research them. That can make pricing tricky. It always helps when a consignor can tell me about an item - where they purchased it, how much they paid, if there's a story behind it. Customers really appreciate as much information as we can provide.
-What do you want Art.i.fact to be known for?
Customer service and gorgeous, well-priced merchandise are our top priorities. We also are committed to creating and being part of a a strong community, and we do that through regular events, including art openings, fundraisers for local non-profits, our monthly women's group meeting, and other gatherings.
-Fave places to eat in Santa Fe?
That's a tough one! Sweetwater Cafe for brunch and Thai nights and Jambo for African and Carribean are excellent. Our neighbor (and landlord) Counter Culture makes my favorite enchiladas and chocolate cake. Bumble Bee for quick, yummy Mexican is one of our standard go-to places. The shrimp burritos are delicious!
-Fave things to do in Santa Fe?
We go to lots of gallery openings. Meow Wolf is on the do-not-miss list. Ojo Caliente (about an hour away) is always lovely, and a stroll on Canyon Road - with a snack at the Tea House - is a great way to spend an afternoon. In the summertime, you can't beat live music at the Plaza!
-Fave pieces in the store right now?
Where to begin? We just received a 50-piece collection of designer costume and sterling silver jewelry, and there's at least three pieces I'm salivating over. We also have a pair of Brunello Cucinelli boots that I wish were my size, and a two-piece Givenchy outfit that is simply outrageous!
Where else could you get a pair of $1200 Bruno Cucinelli boots for $229? If you love fashion but don't want to shell out the big bucks, consignment is the way to go. Plus, it's eco-friendly!
-What's next for you guys?!
We have some ideas brewing... For now, we're celebrating our two-year anniversary (we opened on Nov. 14, 2014) and focusing on how to keep growing - attracting more awesome consignors, and attracting the customers who appreciate their beautiful things!
If you are in Santa Fe, do not miss this gem! I love love my treasures so much. Now if it will only get cold so I can wear these amazing leather rabbit fur gloves...!
Happy Anniversary Art.i.fact!