I’d like to introduce y’all to Aimee Boudreaux MacIver, a native New Orleanian, high school teacher, and owner of Beloved Light Vintage. Her store combines both her love of vintage and her hometown pride. Each piece is lovingly handpicked as an extension of her personal wardrobe and appropriately named after southern icons. Please read on to find out what makes her Etsy shop so special.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I consider myself something of an old soul. I’m drawn to anything with a story–objects, books, cities, and especially people, which is one reason I love teaching high school so much. I’m sort of a contradiction in that I have both a deep sense of home and a passionate lust for travel. I also love learning, reading, writing, creating, and thinking. And nothing beats watching the New Orleans Saints win a game.
2. How did you get in the business of selling vintage clothing?
I think I’m like a lot of vintage sellers who really are just vintage collectors who ran out of space for their treasures! Essentially, the more I collected, the more intrigued I became with all the possibility of vintage shopping. Sharing that thrill of discovery was the natural next step. And now I truly enjoy rescuing great vintage finds from obscurity so that someone else can fall in love with them.
Also, in my own collecting, I found that a lot of vintage shops can be overpriced, which just ruins the fun of the whole experience. The last thing I’d want is for vintage collecting to get overly commercialized and then end up homogenized like everything else. Instead, I wanted to create a venue that would allow other people to enjoy the same things I do about vintage shopping, but with more streamlined and efficient access–an online Etsy shop makes an ideal forum for that.
3. Is there a set style or item that you hunt for, or do you know it when you see it?
Selling vintage, for me, is kind of like match-making. I never try to sell anything I wouldn’t buy for my own closet or home. (In fact, I often decide to keep items from my own inventory or give them as unique gifts!) I just stay alert for some special detail–a fabric, a print, a color, a shape, some purely fun,kitschy element–that simply deserves to be appreciated.
I do keep a general awareness of current trends, but most of the time I’m drawn to things with a sort of classic eclecticism–retro-mod, maybe a little quirky, always stylish and well-designed.
Yet what most attracts me to vintage is that each piece has been loved by somebody, somewhere, and giving that piece a new home is a way of perpetuating the love story. It’s also a way to indulge a bit of fantasy, because vintage items give you freedom to imagine–for instance, maybe this dress was worn on the first date of a 50-years-long marriage, or maybe this handbag was used to carry the keys to a first home. With vintage, there’s a tactile connection to real, unique people whose individual dreams and lives have already been fulfilled, and that’s so much more appealing than just grabbing something mass-produced at the mall.
“Maison Dupuy” 1970s secretary dress- $24
4. What are some of the more popular items that you sell in your shop?
Our most popular items are the things you won’t find anywhere else–a piece that is unique, yet somehow has a comfortable familiarity that you recognize when you see it. Handbags, jewelry and scarves are a perfect starting entry into vintage shopping. Vintage accessories are so beautifully well-made while also being totally original and affordable. And–as I long ago realized–accessories always fit, so they’re very easy to buy online. We also sell a lot of vintage dresses, which are also easy to fit online. I’ve found that truly retro housewares are also very popular. Why buy expensive mass-produced reproductions when you can get the real thing with free shipping?
“Mystic Tea house”
Pyrex teacup trio- $9
5. I noticed each of your pieces have distinctive New Orleans names, such as Nottoway [Plantation] and Duplex. How do you come up with the names of the items?
I love New Orleans in that borderline-obsessive way that only other people raised here can understand. I’ve never known another city that has a soul of such wonderful contradiction like New Orleans does–lazy yet always simmering with life; deeply mysterious yet warm and hospitable; with a flair for theatrical drama yet always resilient and steadfast. You don’t live in New Orleans; New Orleans lives in you. In that sense, New Orleans captures the mystique of history and romance that I love about vintage things. Naming my items after local streets, sights,and sounds is an attempt to honor that soul.
6. Where do you see your business going in the future?
Beloved Light Vintage will always be about sharing the experience more than anything else. Customer hospitality is paramount, and I believe shoppers appreciate that commitment. From pretty wrapping to fast shipping, we want our customers to feel like they’re receiving a gift package, not just a generic order. As long as we strive to maintain our basic philosophy–that vintage shopping should be fun and satisfying, not overpriced or overly serious–I’m sure we’ll continue to grow.
“St. Tammany” mod daisy scarf- $12
7.What is your definition of Southern style?
I think the magnolia is a perfect icon of Southern style. Soft, lush, and traditional fused with bold, confident, and a bit gothic–a certain elegance paired with a vivacious joie de vivre. I just love how Southern style spikes that sense of old-school graciousness and propriety with a defiant edge. A Southern woman will wear a black-and-gold beaded cocktail dress…to a football game. A Southern woman will wear lipstick, but never be too prissy to crack a beer and peel a crawfish. Southern women know their femininity and beauty are assets, not a liability like women in so many other places believe. I think of my grandmothers and great-aunts, who would fully embraced beauty and style, but wouldn’t dream of sacrificing their beignets just to fit into a tight dress. What fun is being stylish if you can’t have a life?
I’d like to give Aimee a big “Thank you” for being my first interview subject and wish her the best of luck running her business. She is currently offering 20% off all boots and shoes throughout the month of September and as always, free shipping. Also make sure to check out her “thrift scores” and “summer farewell” sections for end of summer markdowns.
All images courtesy of Beloved Light Vintage