#MakeAFuss: How one 20-something turned her Depop shop into an IRL fashion destination 3 years ago

#MakeAFuss: How one 20-something turned her Depop shop into an IRL fashion destination

"I had thought it was a dream, something I could never really pursue."

Vintage fashion is well and truly having a moment.

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Everywhere you look, people are wearing reworked shirts and dresses and showing off one-of-a-kind finds.

One young entrepreneur riding that wave is Ruth Dempsey, who has turned her successful online vintage clothing business into real-life store Finders Keepers in Bray, Co Wicklow.

If you’ve watched Girlboss on Netflix, Ruth’s story of a fashion maven's online business might sound a little familiar. But that's where the soft spoken 26-year-old's similarities with the show’s abrasive protagonist Sophia end.

 

"Maybe this is an actual, viable career path"

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A charity shop fanatic, she's forever been rummaging for something unique to wear.

When she started her own Etsy page in 2012 to sell on some of the best pieces she picked up, she accidentally found a likeminded community of fashion fans.

In a few short years Ruth learned what people wanted to see, familiarised herself with only sales and kept plugging away and her standing in the vintage community ballooned.

She moved to Depop, where her page Moody Blue Vintage amassed over 40,000 followers.

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"The ‘Thanks hun, Penneys’ thing is dying out a bit," she says, explaining that many young people want more than what's on offer from traditional retailers.

"It might have been 2016 where it was making me comparable money (to an ordinary job). It was then that I was like 'maybe this is an actual, viable career path'.

"I had thought it was a dream, something I could never really pursue."

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It was in January of 2017 that she decided to move her business offline and into the real world and last September, Finders Keepers was opened.

 

A learning curve

The move was a milestone but also marked the beginning of a new journey.

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Ruth had to learn the ins-and-outs of running a small business overnight.

"The business side of stuff doesn’t come that naturally to me but it’s a learning curve," she says.

"I used to be the sort of person who was terrified to look at my bank account after a night out but I can’t be that person now."

Having a bricks and mortar store has finally put Ruth face-to-face with the people who buy from her and has taught her that the customer is king.

#MakeAFuss: How one twenty-something turned her Depop shop into an IRL fashion destination

"From when I first opened to now, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to stock. Now people come in looking for things that I wouldn’t have stocked asking could I get them in.

"I’m constantly learning, constantly asking people when they come in what they want to see from me rather than me picking stuff for this imaginary demographic."

It's an approach that has already paid off.

"I have a couple of lovely regular customers and it makes me really happy when they walk through the door and they’re dressed head-to-toe in stuff they bought from me."

Another definite perk Ruth enjoys as her own boss is having to answer to no-one but herself.

"I’m my own boss," she says proudly. "I have the odd customer asking ‘Can I speak to the owner?’ or ‘Can I speak to the manager?’ and I go ‘Well, you’re speaking to both of them.'"

#MakeAFuss: How one twenty-something turned her Depop shop into an IRL fashion destination

As with any new venture, though, it's all or nothing.

Ruth works in the shop alone six days a week and spends every other waking hour sourcing clothes, answering emails and running the show.

She says she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It’s my baby. It doesn’t really feel like work. I keep having my pinch-me moment that this is what I get to call work."

 

Looking forward

Eight months in, Ruth says she wishes she'd started sooner.

"The advice I’d give my younger self would be go at it as hard as you can from as young as you can.

"Even now I still have self doubt in what I’m doing but I wish I’d put my whole heart into it from the very beginning and just went for it."

The future certainly looks bright for Finders Keepers which, with its selection of 90s-style sweatshirts, cat-eye sunglasses and band tees, has plenty to offer both dedicated vintage aficionados and those following the latest trend.

#MakeAFuss: How one twenty-something turned her Depop shop into an IRL fashion destination

"I’m not going to act like I’m Mother Teresa and I don’t shop fast fashion, I do," Ruth says.

"But I think if people are going towards trends they should go towards a vintage avenue before they choose fast fashion.

"It’s all cyclical – a lot of stuff that was popular twenty years ago will be popular again."

Ruth's main goal is to grow her base of vintage-obsessed customers.

"Bray is like no other place, I want to be here for the rest of my life.

"If it keeps going the way it is I’d like a bigger premises or a second premises and get staff and for my clothes to get to as many people as possible and make as many people happy as possible."

 

 

#MakeAFuss

We know that Irish businesswomen are a force to be reckoned with so here at Her.ie, we're making a fuss of the ladies who’ve made a fuss on their journey to success.

We want to celebrate the grafters and the risk-takers, those who’ve followed a passion or spotted a niche, those still forging their own path and those who are at the top of their game.

In our new series Make A Fuss, we’ll be talking to inspiring Irish women in business about their careers, what they’ve learned along the way and where they’re going next.

Know a kickass woman in business? Get in touch with us via anna@her.ie and let us know.