There has always been a massive interest in everything vintage. From cars to books to – more recently – fashion. So, when Waterford’s newest vintage shop opened up and we found out it was owned and run by 22-year-old Ava Whelton, we thought it would be rude not to have a chat with her. Mainly we wanted to fill you guys in on all the goss in the vintage game 😉
Check out what we got chatting to Ava about:
Ava, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hey, sure! My name is Ava Whelton and I am a 22-year-old Entrepreneur, founder of Old Soul Vintage based in Tramore, Waterford. My business journey began the day before COVID-19 Lockdown in Ireland when I received the keys to my prospective future. I am now a month into opening my physical shop and business is thriving!
Wow, that is amazing! 22 years old and already an entrepreneur, how did I do it?
Starting a business isn’t easy, I’d be lying if I say it was. You have to be super passionate about what you’re doing before you take on the hardships of being your own boss. Of course, there are a lot of perks but there is a hell of a lot more responsibility. I am a strong believer in if you want something just go and fu*#ing get it. What’s stopping you? It’s usually your own intuition telling you that you aren’t capable of achieving your dreams. Sometimes, you just need to ignore the voice in your head and focus on what your heart wants. Yes, it sounds mushy but if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Literally, anything is possible, so just go ahead and do it. Stop making excuses! Plus, I now have the best coworker ever! Liam the resident doggo, is always on hand to give the best fashion advice.
Do you have any qualifications?
When I was 19, I studied Art for a year at WCFE (Waterford College of Further Education) which was one of the best year of my life! That’s where I met my closest friends and where the idea of owning my own business began. However, that is as far as my education goes. I felt college was never really for me so I stepped away and focused on what I really wanted. In the same year, I did a short start your own business night course with the LEO (local enterprise office). Here I learned some background to starting a business and all the tools I needed to have in order to succeed.
Why is Vintage clothing so important to you?
Well, there are a few factors of why I love vintage, firstly the quality. You cannot purchase the quality of vintage in modern shops. It just doesn’t exist anymore! Vintage pieces have lasted over 20+ years in perfect condition and are guaranteed to last another 20. You can’t buy that anymore. The most you will get out of a pair of jeans from a well-known retailer is roughly a year!
Secondly, the uniqueness of vintage is otherworldly. You are guaranteed one-off pieces that no one else will have. This gives everyone the chance to express their own individuality and style without giving in to modern aesthetic standards. Not only that but you’re also purchasing a garment with a piece of history attached to it. There is something amazing about that.
Lastly & most importantly the sustainability factor associated with vintage. Factories do not manufacture vintage items as they already exist. The impact of fast fashion is tremendously horrific worldwide. The clothing and textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world following the oil industry. 2020 has really given people a chance to reflect on their responsibility to help the planet and many of them have turned to a more sustainable option. Buying second-hand goods or vintage fashion helps shift the demand for fast fashion and overproduction of goods. I am trying to promote people to buy something that they will love forever and not be ashamed to repeat them.
Is your shop just full of fabulous vintage pieces?
No, it’s not, it is also filled with lots of Local Artists, Crafters & Designers. In-store I have “The Wall” which is filled with about 20 local artists, all with different styles and personalities. I find Waterford is so bloody talented and it hurts to see these artists/ photographers wasting their talents because there is no easy way for them to share their work, no platform like this exists. So within Old Soul, I have devised this creative space that is open and welcoming to everyone. It is now a treasured wall amongst the artist community and I have created some beautiful friendships with all the people behind the canvases.
Currently, I have 2 Irish Fashion designers in house. Shane Fitzpatrick (@fitslogo / @Late2n ) and The Katy Days. Both of these designers are recognised outside of Ireland with a large following on their social media. Unfortunately, their brands are not recognised as much in Ireland and I am giving them a chance to do so. Both also create sustainable pieces with an alternative edge focusing on quality and not quantity.
I also house several Jewellery designers, Cardmakers, Knitters & Crocheters.
Do you have any advice for those who are thinking of setting up their own business?
When I began my journey, I had a million questions and no one to answer them. It was hard at first, and only now am I meeting the people who would be willing to help. I would highly recommend the short business course with the LEO which is very inexpensive and highly informative. I also read a book called “Starting a business in Ireland” by Brian O’Kane which I still refer to today for any unanswered questions.
Another suggestion is to talk to someone who owns a business or even used too. No one is going to judge you for not having the answers to everything, and you have to start somewhere. I often get messages or emails from young customers enquiring about how they can do what I do and I will always point them in the best direction I can.
My last bit of advice is to have no fear. If you want something bad enough, don’t let anything get in your way. Always fight for what you want or you’ll never get it.
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing young women today?
Individuality. I feel in the last decade or so, young women have forgotten how to be themselves. They tend to focus more on what’s trending and other people’s opinions of them. Of course, at a young age, we get in our heads that we need to be perfect in order for everybody to like you.
I have seen girls in my shop put something back on the rail because their friend didn’t like it. I’ve seen ladies bring something back because they feel they can’t pull it off. Let me tell you something ladies, you like it? You wear it. Do not give in to the social pressure of other humans because they are too little to see how good you look in something you like. Every girl, lady, woman out there has their own personal style that radiates through them, you’ve just got to let it happen.
Do not forget about you, do not forget about how you feel in something. Your opinion of yourself is the ONLY one that matters. If you want to belt a black sack, with a pair of crocs, odd socks & a Gucci bag, you go ahead and you do that. Anything worn with confidence is an outfit.
Just be you.
Best advice you have ever been given?
I think I’ve taken a lot of advice over the years from many different wise humans. However the one lesson I learned and 100% stand by today is;
“If you’re not happy, get out.”
This has referred to many different things for me, but the main concept to take from this is, if something isn’t making you happy, or you aren’t feeling happy make a change, do something to fix it. Don’t sit there in sorrow because you don’t have to. There is always a way out of darkness, because really, how’d you get in there in the first place?
Quick Fire Round:
Ooh, Thrifting with my Sister. I love a good charity shop haul.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” – Walt Disney or “pull up your pants Patrick we’re going home” – Spongebob Squarepants (the first movie).
The theme tune to Law & Order
Fave person ever?
David Attenborough or Steve Irwin (loves me a nature boy)