Amy Herman, the force behind VTG CLT (Vintage Charlotte), is a photographer, artist, and the owner of a small business. Originally from Michigan, she was selling vintage pieces in college. That was the start: a simple passion for vintage attire coupled with her realization that there was no Charlotte outlet that completely filled her need for that expression.
Today, she holds pop-up shops throughout Charlotte to sell her treasured vintage finds, as well as hosting two major markets a year for locals to come together over their adoration of previous eras.
Amy opened up about the process and rewards of running VTG CLT and her other creative pursuits.
What is your favorite part about owning Vintage Charlotte?
Amy: Probably the sense of community that has been formed around it. Vendors want to support each other. It’s community over competition since they feel that Vintage Charlotte connected them in a new way. I think sometimes that vendors and artists can feel isolated making their craft. Knowing that there are other people in small businesses out there that are doing the same thing and experiencing struggles can be refreshing. Seeing Vintage Charlotte connect small businesses is really special.
Can you go into depth about both the warm and cold weather VTG CLT markets?
Amy: This is the first year of the spring market, but the eighth year of a warm weather market. The winter market has been at The Fillmore every year—about 65 venders can fit there. The summer market has moved around quite a bit. But this will be the third year in a row the warm weather market will be at Camp North End. What is so great about having it at Camp North End is that we can really expand a little bit; we can have about 80 vendors, various food trucks, and a beer vendor.
What preparations do you have to make to get this ready?
Amy: I usually start planning the next market about a month after the last market, for a total of about four months. I like to announce the markets about three months before the event. That gives vendors enough time to apply, receive notification that they are participating, prep all their products, and design the booths. My side of it is really keeping ever
yone organized, finding the layout, trying to find ways to keep it fresh and creative each time, and then doing the marketing.
How do you choose vendors to represent the markets?
Amy: The market is a jury. Members are pulled from local experts who own retail shops or have sold vintage. They have the skills to look at the products and brands that have applied and really evaluate if they would be a good fit for Vintage Charlotte.
What are a few of your favorite vintage items that someone could pick up at one of the pop-up markets?
Amy: Well I have very strange and less general taste in vintage now that I have been in it for so long. So I specifically look for things that I have not seen before, because my favorite thing about is being surprised. I think that things that could be found at the market, in all shapes sizes and forms, are really incredible clothing finds, unique pieces of furniture, tons of home decor, really interesting cameras, and other technology items.
What advice would you give to someone that is starting their own small business?
Amy: I would say that you have to be willing to put yourself into the business and live for it. It is hard, it kind of sucks, but sometimes people don’t give themselves permission to work super hard. I think the small business life isn’t for everyone but it definitely is rewarding.