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Sabrina Braden resides in Columbia, Missouri, and is the proprietor of Maude Vintage Clothing & Costumes. She studied Art and Psychology, while playing college Volleyball and Dance at Missouri Valley College in Marshall Missouri. Her hobbies include archery, yoga, sewing, carpentry, and general “girl-about-town-shenanigans” as Sabrina would describe it. Many consider her to be a professional stylist, as her experience and affable ways lends itself to outfitting the masses for various occasions.
Sabrina started Maude Vintage at the young age of 23 and has seen it through ten years and three location changes. Maude Vintage continues to be a staple in downtown Columbia. It has been named “Best Resale Shop” in the Best of Columbia 2009 edition.
I have always believed in supporting the community and its many opportunities to support its people through benefits and community programs. In the past we have put on fashion shows that donate proceeds to support the Women’s Shelter, the Children’s Rainbow House, and Planned Parenthood. We also donate regularly with gift certificates for merchandise or costume rentals to benefits to support MS, Cancer Research, HIV, and many other local benefits. Every year we host a student from the C.A.R.E. Program, Career Awareness Related Experience. This program is near and dear to my heart as it offers the chance to low income, and “at risk” youth to work in the community with a support team of people who are interested in teaching them skills that range from job related, to social real world encounters. I worked at a program like this when I was 13 until age 16 and was very grateful to have such a good experience early on that really stuck with me and laid a good foundation for my future. Supporting our youth through showing them such qualities as honesty, integrity, love, and believing in them is something I’m proud to do through Maude every year. Not only do we do philanthropic endeavors, but also engage in extending support to our local filmmakers and production companies by offering deep discounts for costuming for an exchange of advertisement in their brochures. Over the years we have quite the list of companies from many nearby towns who come to us almost exclusively for their costuming needs.
You started Maude Vintage at age 23. Can you tell me what you learned from starting a business at such a young age, and how you have grown through the entrepreneurial process?
When I was 23 I had all the ambition and heart to start a business but none of the experience or education to do so. Maude Vintage definitely began as a labor of love. I had no real clue of what I was getting into, but I felt strongly about engaging in affordable fashion while recycling clothing through my community. Plus I was just having so much fun with displays and interacting with all kinds of people every day. Along the way I have learned, the hard way, to get EVERYTHING in writing. I have also learned how to market and merchandise more effectively and have learned how important these things are to sales. Of course along the way I have learned to manage the books and accounting in a business, this is no doubt a key to staying in business. I also have learned how to manage and develop people. This can be a difficult, and tricky thing to do, particularly when they are your friends. Honesty through daily communication is what makes this work for me. Telling someone that they are doing something wrong, or how they can be doing it better can be uncomfortable. At this point I am past the discomfort and I find it a rewarding challenge to be clear and speak my mind in an instant as necessary. I could not have learned that in school, but only with time and trial and error.
Of course praising people for their strong points has always come naturally. My personal belief system has always been to be an honest person and have a lot of fun no matter what. These two things have proven well in business along the way. I am still learning many things and still have a lot to learn I’m sure, but this is the fun thing about what I do, it’s always new and very exciting!
Maude Vintage has such a wide variety of clothing, accessories, and art, what do you look for when people bring items to sell?
When people bring in clothing we are looking for seasonal items as well as clean and in good condition. More specifically we look for vintage that applies to current standards of trends and fashion. So for instance, double knit, butterfly collar two piece ladies suits…. not so hot anymore, well, they’re hot, but not in the way they look. However, high waist circle skirts cut off above the knee from the 90s, selling like hot cakes. We also buy modern clothing from this season or last, that has a classic look or is complimentary to a vintage piece. We do not do t-shirts that say Ambercrombie across them… this is not a classic look. When I look at locally made accessories like jewelry, purses, scarves and even clothing, I consider past experiences, and again, current trends. I have never had any luck with hemp jewelry, so I don’t consider it as I’ve realized it’s not our market. I LOVE unique pieces that reuse fabrics or recombine old or new clothing. Art is a little more interesting to decide on but I usually just use my gut feeling on that, if it strikes me as fresh and gives me a good feeling or makes a clear statement, or even an unclear statement with purpose, we will host it.
You first worked at a different resale shop before starting Maude Vintage, what attracted you to working at in the resale industry? Why do you view it as important?
I worked at the Salvation Army as a sales clerk for a little over a year. I enjoyed being active on the sales floor and interacting with the many different kinds of people who would come through. I enjoy people, and I enjoy getting to know them, this became evident to me at this job. I also realized how special it was to be a part of recycling every day. I began to realize that not everything that was donated was put on the floor there because it was ‘too old’. What they thought of as ‘too old’ was sweet vintage pieces that made me sick to have to bail and send off as grease rags. Opening a vintage store was an opportunity for me to recycle clothing in a more selective and specialized way. Not only that, but to actually PAY the community for their used goods. I love being able to teach people that just because something has been used, doesn’t mean it no longer has value, in fact, it has a history and is uniquely more valuable in my opinion. I am distinctly disgusted by the gross amount of ‘new’ in this country but more so disgusted by the means of how we come by it. Paying people over seas pennies, or even fractions of pennies on the dollar to keep our malls chock full of ‘new’. I scarcely see the point. If it were actually fair trade it would be a different story. That being said, I enjoy seeing the people I purchase clothing from, and likewise hope they appreciate being able to see the owner of the shop they are purchasing their clothing from. Maude is an education to the public about how personable, sustainable, community proactive, political, and fun a business can be. Yes, fun and politics can be in the same sentence!
You have lived in many different cities but have said that Columbia, MO is where you consider home. What do you love about Columbia, MO?
Columbia has many pockets of art, culture, and progressiveness in it. These pockets run deep, and over the years have been very enriching and stimulating for me. I also enjoy being central to the nation, making me feel as though I am not very far away from anywhere I want to visit. There are so many genuine and good people here it has been very easy to build a home, and feel a strength in community here in Columbia. I also live five blocks from my shop, and enjoy walking to and from work everyday. Everything I want to do is in the downtown area. There are so many good local restaurants, local cinema cafe, great bars, and live music, right in my back yard. I am never bored, and rarely do I find myself yearning for more.
I am so impressed by the huge selection Maude Vintage has for costume rentals. You must love to play dress-up to house such an amazing selection. What is the best Halloween costume you have ever seen?
Dressing up is SO much fun to say the least. I am overjoyed to be able to help people step outside of themselves and be something, if even for a day, that they normally would not be. My favorite costumes are always ones that create or replicate a persona that is exactly opposite of who that person really is. One that sticks out in my mind was for this conservative white businessman who wanted to be Rick James. This one makes me smile every time I think of it! He was clad in knee high boots, a huge studded, and multi-colored leather jacket, a tight mesh shirt, tight colorful leather pants, and a long geri curl wig. AMAZING! I guess this makes me happy because it reminds everyone that you can be anyone you want to be… and at the very least, have ultimate fun doing it.
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