My first Bantam Business post for 2016 features the amazing Natalie of Sweet & Sour Vintage
. Natalie and I connected via Instagram and I instantly fell in love with her amazing dresses. Talk about vintage style! They are seriously wonderful! She works with really amazing vintage fabrics (and some new) to create fun vintage inspired dresses. How cool is that?! Now, let’s learn more about Natalie!
Note: You will want to read all the way to the bottom for a discount code!!
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Hey, there. My name is Natalie Galasso and I’m from northern New Jersey, right outside NYC. Living in such a diverse area has definitely informed my eclectic approach to fashion but I would call the style of my clothes feminine, vintage-inspired and whimsical with a modern edge. I’m 33 and run my aforementioned small handmade clothing business, Sweet & Sour Vintage
. Most of the textiles I work with are vintage fabrics, but I do also work with retro and new materials as well. I have a background in art history and writing, but fashion has always been a constant in my life. Another love in my life is my boyfriend and my sweet and spunky pug, Layla, both of whom keep me on my toes. I wear mostly black in my everyday life, but live for designing colorful things.
Q: How did you get started with making handmade dresses and tops?
A: I got started making and designing clothes in high school, actually. I took fashion design classes there for a few years and learned basic sewing and stuff. It was there I made my first dress, a very late ’90s forest green minimalist jersey dress. But, growing up, both my grandmothers made clothes and so I was exposed to the process while really young. Also, it was the late ’90s when I attended high school and this is when vintage and thrifting really started to become trendy and viable. Actresses were starting to wear vintage on the red carpet and Marc Jacob’s famous grunge collection (he is still my favorite designer ever) had happened earlier in the decade too, so those were big influences on me. Additionally, the music I listened to (mostly punk and indie type stuff) informed my style and tastes. I eventually went to Fordham and graduated with a degree in English, but also took courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology on the side.
In my late ’20s while unemployed, I started selling strictly vintage in my etsy shop. It was fun thrifting for items for the shop, but I’d always find beautiful fabrics in the process too that were inspiring. I love the style of say, mod ’60s stuff, but a lot of that stuff is damaged, tiny or the fabrics are synthetic, so I wanted a way to preserve that very vintage style while modernizing and improving it. Thus, the Sweet & Sour handmade line was born. I had so many ideas and sketches for dresses and cool fabrics, but most of the sewing knowledge I had gleaned while younger wasn’t up to speed, so I advertised for and found a great seamstress I work with, Kathi, who makes the clothing. Basically, I find a fabric I like and then sketch and/or send her inspiration photos that I want to work off of and we discuss and come up with a design idea. Then, she makes samples and I style/photograph/ post them in the shop. Sometimes, we sell the samples themselves but mostly, we do made to order custom dresses. We also do some mismatched vintage style bridesmaid dresses.
by Kerri Sullivan
Q:What has been most rewarding about owning your business?
A: One of the most rewarding things about running my own business is working with brides. Helping them select the perfect vintage wedding dress or working with them on bespoke bridesmaid dresses is amazing. It’s such an honor that they choose to buy from and work with me and it’s a nice feeling being involved in someone’s special day in any small way. I also think there’s something really empowering about providing other women with custom, well fitting clothing. As someone who has struggled with their own body image, it gratifies me to help other ladies feel good about themselves and the way they look. Also, the creative community and friends I’ve made through doing this are great. Lastly, just seeing your designs and ideas come to life is fun. Sending off your pieces and seeing the way people style what you’ve made is so cool. I’m not someone who thinks my designs need to be worn a certain way. I don’t think I’m breaking the design wheel so to speak and my clothes are meant to be fun and playful above all.
Q: What is your favorite part of making your items?
A: My favorite part of making items is discovering a quirky vintage or beautifully wrought new fabric that I want to work with. I usually instantly know what I want to do with it and it’s that initial moment of inspiration and then eventually fleshing out my ideas that I love.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: In my free time, I enjoy seeing bands, reading memoirs I can get lost in, taking meandering walks, perusing style blogs, cuddling my pup and cooking yummy (mostly vegetarian) food. I do yoga sometimes and enjoy “slice of life” and indie graphic novels as well. I also have a keen interest in studying (and getting) tattoos, the art deco period and interesting subcultures. I believe in traveling as much as possible and being genuine because life is short.
Q: Where do you find your vintage fabrics?
A: I find most of my vintage fabrics at a local thrift shop or two in a neighboring town. They have a whole thrifty sewing section which I frequent. I also sometimes take apart vintage clothing and remake it into something new. There’s also a wholesale fabric place in an old Italian neighborhood about 30 mins from me that has both vintage and new materials. It’s amazing and will always be my secret and where I source most of the fabric! I also buy both vintage and new materials on etsy and ebay.
Q: What is your favorite dessert?
A: Ooh! I love this question. My favorite dessert is banana cream pie. Or wait, ice cream. Or…. You only said one, right? Haha.
Q: Who is your vintage style inspiration?
A: I have MANY vintage style inspirations but some standouts are Edie Sedgwick, Twiggy, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn (duh), Jane Birkin, Jackie O., Mia Farrow and Clara Bow. Some more modern style inspirations are Sofia Coppola and Liz Goldwyn (a director, writer, vintage/art history expert and all around creative) as well as Dita Von Teese and Gwen Stefani. I generally admire women whose style isn’t contrived and that lead full, exciting, creative lives in addition to being fashionistas. That’s so much more interesting to me.
Here is a HUGE thank you to the wonderful Natalie of Sweet & Sour Vintage
for taking the time to chat with me! Please take a moment to go check out her shop and support this small business owner! Natalie is so sweet and is running a few discounts in her shop right now!! Use code THANKYOU for 40% vintage in her shop and use code CUTIELIFE for 15% off on handmade pieces!
P.S. be on the look out for an outfit post featuring one of her amazing dresses!!