The idea for The Femme Stories was born last year, but with any small business some ideas just have to wait. When everything started happening surrounding the pandemic I was PROUD of my friends and colleagues for how they were tackling these unprecedented times and I wanted to document that, these are their stories.
Jennifer | With Nini
As you all know, I am a HUGE fan of thrifted clothing and I love following accounts that thrift and resell fashion on Insta. This is how I came across With Nini, then known as the Littlest Lookbook. Honestly, I am super picky who I follow on social media, I like accounts that take into consideration their whole feed, have dynamic stories, are real and honest, I use Instagram to be inspired. When I came across Jennifer’s company, With Nini, I was instantly taken with what a pro she is; how she takes her pictures, how she shows off her thrifted finds and later I became a fan of her gorgeous wire art. I met Jennifer in person last winter at a Cheerfully Made Show and she was just as kind and sweet as her social persona. I loved talking with her for this post, learning more about her love for thrifted clothing and seeing where she started to where she is now.
Have you always had a passion for second hand clothing?
For me it started when I watched a YouTube video, this influencer did all these DIY projects with thrifted clothing and I got really interested in it after that. I started going to second hand shops with a friend after school and eventually I filmed my own video of my first haul of thrifted clothing, but I never thought I would be turning it into a career. When I was in college I got more into vintage clothing as well and started going to markets as a shopper and that’s when I realized people were reselling this clothing.
How did you get into reselling it yourself?
That happened at the end of 2018, and at that time I was known as The Littlest Lookbook. What originally triggered it was going to New York and seeing a bunch of people reselling there and also 2018 had been a rough year for me. I was 4 years into my Digital Marketing Career, but it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue forever. Internally I was really debating whether I should drop this job, Head of Social Media, which was super secure and I had worked hard to build up and start a career in fashion, which I actually went to school for.
* Side note because I LOVE this! Jennifer attending Fanshawe College for Fashion Business in 2013, which had a huge focus on retail. But, with the rise of social media and the idea you can sell online and never need a store front has been a game changer for the industry and shaken up the retail landscape. She has since gone back and talked at the college and helped them update their curriculum to make it more relevant to our times and allow greater success to the students graduating.
I love that your company is multi-faceted, I myself found happiness in Copious when I was able to express all of myself in the company. Is that how you feel about your wire art? It isn’t clothing related but it ties so beautifully into your whole company.
I actually had a YouTube channel before I started my shop and I would do DIY’s and Fashion Content so that is how I got into doing a lot of art and different DIY projects. When I moved into my first apartment, like most people there wasn’t extra cash for decorating but I did have lots of crafting supplies, so I got to work making my own art. I had posted a picture of my art on my personal Instagram when a follower commented, have you ever thought of selling your art? I instantly said no I’ll never do that!
It was 6 months to a year later that I started my company and it was solely fashion focused, until I did my first market in 2019. I felt like I didn’t have enough products to stand out and I just added my art for a more personal touch and it did surprisingly well! I am very happy that I have fashion and art under my shop, it does give me the opportunity to dabble in different artistries.
I love that you did a rebrand, I feel like you did it so seamlessly. When did you know you wanted to do this and what were the new aspects you wanted to include in your company?
I had talked about this for over 6 months, it can be nerve wracking to execute something like this. I knew that I wanted the name Nini in it somehow and I wanted a more vibrant, mature pastel colour palette. I did prepare my clients a lot in the upcoming weeks that this would be changing. Because my community is quite small I have had more opportunities to get to know them individually. I didn’t want them to log on and see a brand they didn’t remember and maybe unfollow me. So, I hinted at this change and walked them through why I chose the new name and what the new logo would look like so that when it happened they knew it was coming.
Actually, the day I did the switch over was random and not planned out considering I planned so much else. One morning I woke up and I had 400 new followers, I’m not really sure where they all came from but I knew right then that I had to switch it up!
How has it been running your company, working your day job, plus dealing with COVID?
I feel like I had such a strong community of shoppers before the shut-down and really, I have gotten even more support. Covid actually gave me an opportunity to connect with my following even more. During that time, I wanted to think of ways to make them happy and laugh because so many of us were isolated and isolation can feel so daunting. That is how the THIS or THAT edition on my stories came about. I started doing polls every Friday of would you wear THIS or THAT, it has become something that myself and my followers look forward to and they often submit theme ideas to me. It helped us all to disconnect from the chaos.
2020 has been a year of change, self-discovery and personal growth for everyone, I feel like you did such a great job sharing relevant and thoughtful information for the BLM and I wanted to talk some more about that with you.
We all know the BLM is not new, but having it come to light again and seeing it on my social media, I didn’t immediately know what was happening. I did research before I started to share information because I didn’t want to react purely on emotion, I wanted to make sure I understood what was happening and share my thoughts cohesively. So, I did take some time to have a better understanding and feel more confident about what I wanted to say.
I know so many creators were shocked at the number of followers that unfollowed them when they spoke up in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and I really didn’t think that would happen to me for two reasons, one I am Asian and two because I have always included personal content on my page. I was surprised when I did receive unfollows, I’m not sure if they didn’t realize I am Asian or if it was just that I was speaking up more vocally. No matter what it makes me sad that they aren’t willing to be a part of the dialogue, learn and better themselves. What I am trying to take away from this is that I have met a lot of makers that are speaking and standing up and it is a really beautiful thing to see in our community.
Were there any 2020 launches that you will be pushing to 2021?
There were a few things in the works, nothing that was for sure to launch this year, but because of Covid things are moving slower now, so that will happen when it is ready. Another goal for this year was to do more markets, network and meet more clients in the Ottawa area. Obviously, that is going to be slower this year due to Covid, but I feel really lucky I have an online shop so that I am not reliant on a store front.
Talking with Jennifer was awesome, I share her passion for thrifted and second hand clothing and love that she is eager to style and show these pieces off in a new light. She has mentioned on her stories that there is sometimes a stigma to “used” clothing and through her company With Nini she wants to try and break that down. There is SO much clothing out there already, Value Villages, Salvations Armies, Thrifted and Vintage Shops are busting with donated clothing and often NEW clothing that was never even worn. With Nini is a curated selection of gorgeous vintage and second hand pieces that are just waiting to be styled and made your own. I recommend following her on Instagram because she does new drops all the time, plus her gorgeous wire art is stunning. I can’t wait to see where her company goes next!