Blue Zinnia Vintage sells British, French and American vintage and antique fabrics from the 19th century to the 1970s. My stock includes dress fabrics, children’s fabrics, upholstery fabrics, household linens, feedsacks, vintage patterns, lace, trim and buttons. I also have small selections of vintage children’s clothes and of decorative antiques, and a growing collection of paper ephemera.
I have an online shop, which currently shows just a small part of my stock, from where I have sold fabrics to customers from all over the world. I also sell at Vintage and Textile fairs in London and around the Southwest.
Members of my family have worked with textiles in one way or another for generations. My sister and I joke that we must have inherited the textile gene as she has spent much of her working life as a costume designer, and I have collected textiles and fabrics for almost as long as I can remember. When I realised that I was buying more fabric than I could ever use, and inspired by some of the wonderful dealers I met along the way, I decided to try selling some, and that was the beginning of my business.
What is your Unique Selling Point?
I think it’s probably my stock of American vintage fabrics. Textile designers in particular seem to like them because the patterns are ones they haven’t seen before.
Who is your ideal customer/client?
It’s anyone who appreciates vintage fabrics and understands what makes them so desirable for all kinds of projects from interior design to dressmaking to patchwork; things like the quality of the fabrics themselves, the design and the colours. It’s always wonderful of course when someone wants to buy yards of fabric for a large project, but just as interesting to me is the care with which a customer at a fair will select some fabric scraps from my scrap basket to incorporate into a special project.
What gives your business the edge over your competitors?
Possibly the fact that I go to the States regularly to source fabrics.
Do you have a particular service or product you’d like to flag up here?
I’d like to invite people to come to the Textile Society’s London Antique Textile Fair on Sunday 12th October at Chelsea Old Town Hall (http://www.antiques-atlas.com/antique_fair/londons_textile_society_antique_fair/af1206) where I am lucky enough to be having a stall again this year. This fair is a chance to see wonderful fabrics and clothes from all over the world and from all eras. The quality of what is on offer in that one place for that one day is quite exceptional. There will be tribal textiles from Africa and China, homespun textiles from Romania, beautiful French printed fabrics, and dare I say some nice American fabrics too.
I’d love to hear from people, so please do get in touch – by email, via my website, or on Facebook.
What is your biggest challenge in the current climate?
Sourcing enough high quality fabrics in good condition at a reasonable price.
I think that it will continue to grow and change. I want to really develop the online side of the business. I would also love to travel a bit further afield and find some new sources for vintage fabrics, and I’d love to be able to spend more time researching fabric history, so maybe I will try to write something about some of the particular aspects of this history that fascinate me.
Has being a member of ABN helped your business?
The ABN had helped by making me feel part of the local community, and has enabled me to get to know a group of very interesting people and to become part of a good local support network.
Its character and the fact that it still has some independent shops.
What do you think Askew Road will be like in 5 years time?
I very much hope that it will retain its individuality and its independent shops, and that some of its character will remain as it grows ever more prosperous.
How easy is it to shop locally in Askew Road?
It’s very easy for certain things, though more difficult for others.
Askew Paints, Askew Wine, Adams Café and Max Inc. All independents, all extremely knowledgeable about what they do, and all offering a selection and quality that would be worth traveling quite a distance for. So to have them on our doorstep is quite a luxury.
What shops and businesses do you think Askew Road lacks?
A greengrocers and a fishmongers would be nice.
Blue Zinnia Vintage