Karen King is my version of cool.
A theatrical costumer, Karen also creates a line of millinery while owning and operating, Scout Vintage Finds, a small shop of vintage collectibles and original artwork in Gloucester, Mass. This past weekend Karen reports she relocated her millinery studio into the shop as well. "Now it feels like all the pieces have fallen into place...I hand-block the hats on antique hat blocks, then finish and trim them with vintage findings. Voila, new hats with old soul."
Instead of fracturing her focus, the pursuits dovetail beautifully. An artistic flair for presentation shows up throughout well-merchandised displays, and I would bet front row theater seats that her passion for vintage and historic detail merits kudos in her design work.
Karen says she has had a fondness for vintage, "ever since I became aware that this world is full of beautiful, well-crafted things that happen to be old."
"The kind of shop I was dreaming about didn't exist, so I guess I created it," says Karen. "It's an unexpected combination that works, because it was created with passion and love."
"I've surrounded myself with pieces that possess a quiet dignity, or beautiful design, or playful humor. I painted the walls delicious colors, I listen to great music, I bring in treats I've baked and offer them to customers. I do all this simply because I can. That's the gift, the amazing thing: you can do what you want - it's your shop!"
"I think about my shop and what's in it all the time," says Karen who admits she is constantly on the hunt for new finds. "And when I'm out and about in my world - which looks like your world, just older - I'm always looking for gorgeous things to bring back to the shop...and for [customers] to bring into [their lives]."
During my visit, Gloucester artist, Linda Bourke's work was featured on Scout's walls. Bourke is also the Chair of the Illustration Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Her dangling sculptures made from found objects, repurposed wood and recycled bits were chock-full of personality and spirit. LOVED them! The wooden-bits people are priced at $125 and the seed-pod sculptures are $75.
Karen has this advice for kindred spirits considering their own endeavor: "Open!"
"I love this Bittersweet lyric..."The only thing that makes it a part of your life is that you keep thinking about it. If you absolutely love what you're doing and selling, others will respond to that. So, do or sell what you love to do or sell...because if you don't, who will?"
"Don't become distracted by what others think you should do," says Karen, "and you will receive lots of suggestions...And don't pay any attention to the naysayers and vampires! Surround yourself with those who encourage and support and love you. Unless your idea is truly untenable (and your friends will let you know if this is so) keep moving towards your dream. It's your dream."