TALK TO ME: Kealan Sullivan, part II

Story by Paul Aguirre-Livingston. Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

This is the second part of our conversation with Kealan Sullivan, the owner of the amazing 69 Vintage. You can read the first part here.

In your experience, what does it take to be a good businesswoman?

“Have a willingness to learn from everyone around you. Practice focus, self reliance and patience. Be stubborn and do it your own way.”

What’s a favourite vintage find that you’ll never ever part with?

“The list is never-ending, really, and includes glass beads, quilts, vintage lingerie, crochet dresses, suede chaps, 1950s denim, 1940s fringe suede jacket(s), bathing costumes from all eras, cotton hippie dresses, ‘80s patent leather hip-high stiletto boots…”

Any advice for a novice vintage shopper?

“It’s important to understand vintage as: ‘Having an excellence that has survived the passing of time.’ (This is from the New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary.) Vintage items are not just used or worn clothing, and vintage is not a style.   Someone interested, but new, to vintage shopping must understand and respect the fact that the quality of materials, zippers, styles and construction are the best and most expensive by today’s standards. Every item found in an authentic vintage store is special, rare and will last, but must be cared for properly.”

If you could collaborate with any person (past or present) on any project (fashion-related or otherwise), who would it be and what would you create?

“I couldn’t possibly answer this question. It is agonizing to imagine all the possibilities.”

If you weren’t a shop owner, you would …

“Be in some other world that I created.”

Are you from Toronto? If not, where and what would you recommend people do in your hometown?

“I recommend going back and being 16 in my hometown: Gravenhurst, Ontario. I say 16 because it’s old enough to drive away (to shop, of course!) but young enough to want to stick around and canoe the lakes, burn things at bush parties, sleep on boats, build forts (sophisticated ones!) and water ski before class.”

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

“Two things: I didn’t study fashion or business, and the things I keep for myself are usually items that didn’t sell or are damaged.”

What’s next for you?

“I always look at my business as if I am at the beginning.”

Read our interviews with Anastasia Lomonova, Amanda Lew Kee, Calla Haynes, Nathalie Atkinson, Sarah Nicole Prickett and more in our Talk to Me section.

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