Crushing on Anja Verdugo

Despite having a sense of style that’s old fashioned (in the best possible way), Anja Verdugo does not shy away from using modern technology to express herself creatively. She can be found several different places online under the name Clever Nettle, including her Etsy store, where she sells her unique vintage finds, and her blog that chronicles her daily musings, with plenty of style inspiration to boot.

How did you dress in high school?
It was definitely a mixed bag! I was always a thrift store shopper, but for the first couple years in high school I tried to dress like any “normal” teenager in the mid-90s — lots of stretchy black flared pants and tank tops, haha. Later on I got really into novelty tights, like stripes and other prints. You couldn’t buy them anywhere in my hometown and internet shopping wasn’t what it is today, so I’d buy a new pair of expensive tights whenever I’d find myself in Vancouver, which seemed like the coolest place ever. I was just starting to get into vintage and I remember when shopping in the kid’s section at Value Village for funny 80s tee-shirts was still sort of a secret!

Can you remember when you became so interested in clothing? What kind of role does it play in your life?
I was one of those little girls who valued her box of dress-up clothing more than anything else in the world. I actually still have two vintage pieces from it, a little fur collar and a gold brocade purse. I’ve always been into clothing and dressing up, but right now it’s on my mind more than ever. Thanks to my etsy shop I get to spend almost all of my work time shopping for vintage, putting together outfits and looking for fashion inspiration online, so it definitely plays a huge role in my life! Portland is a really casual city though, so I never feel pressured to dress up or to put together a perfect outfit — it’s able to happen a bit more naturally… or at least it feels that way.

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Crushing on Yana Gorbulsky

Montreal designer Yana is probably going to end up single-handedly saving the world from an environmental crisis. One visit to her Etsy store, Supayana, shows not only the adorable shirts and dresses she makes from vintage clothes and fabrics, but that she tries to remain environmentally conscious in all aspects of her life, like recycling whenever possible and biking to the post office, ensuring that those who buy from her store are supporting an earth-friendly way of life.

How did you first get started with making and selling clothes?
I started making clothing the same way as lots of people. Starting with doll clothes, and then experimenting with real people clothes; I wanted something really unique and fun. As a high school student I couldn’t afford designer clothes, so I just learned how to make my own. The clothes I made in high school were pretty hilarious and terrible… but I got better with practice. When I was in university I started selling my handmade clothing on eBay. At the time it was a way of paying for my textbooks and having extra spending money. I was studying speech pathology, not fashion, but I knew deep down inside that I wanted to design clothing for a living. A few years later, it became a self-sustaining business, so after I graduated, I decided to do fashion full-time. It’s been amazing ever since, and I am so lucky to make a living doing what I love.

Do you prefer designing in Montreal or New York? What are the differences?
Selling online allows me to live and work anywhere, providing there’s an internet connection and a post office! I moved to Montreal two years ago from Brooklyn, NY, and I love it here. I do miss NY from time to time, but my life here feels so luxurious in comparison! Now that I’ve had a little taste, it’s pretty hard to go back. I’m also much more relaxed since I’ve moved to Montreal. Maybe a little too relaxed! I find myself smiling at strangers in the subway when I go back to NY, and I think it freaks them out.

Fashion-wise, I think Montrealers have more interesting vintage/second-hand style, and New Yorkers tend to dress in trendier designer clothing. Probably because Montrealers have access to amazing vintage and second-hand clothing, and New Yorkers have more independent boutiques to choose from.

How do you feel about the “going green” trend that so many fashion magazines have been going on about lately?
I welcome this trend with open arms! It’s about time this idea has spread into the mass media. There is, however, the problem of “greenwashing” (making a product seem eco-friendly when it actually isn’t). For example, I saw these “eco-friendly” sweaters at a popular department store in Montreal, and then when I checked the fiber content, it was like 90% acrylic and 10% bamboo. Ten percent? Woop-di-doo! Or how certain products claim to be “eco” and they’re packaged in two layers of plastic and a glossy coated cardboard box. Read the fine print and find out if whatever you are purchasing is as “green” as it claims. It’s not fair for companies to do this, especially when people are trying to make the right choice.

Do you feel that there is a tight-knit community of sellers on Etsy? How do you find it useful to your business?
Yes, definitely! Well, it just so happens that most of my real-life friends sell on Etsy as well. It’s useful to be friends with other sellers because you can help each other out with finding new retail locations, getting advice about your shop, just getting good business advice in general.

Yana’s Top Ten Etsy Sellers (in no particular order)

I’m Your Present
I Heart Norwegian Wood
Ruffeo Hearts lil Snotty
Desira Pesta
Dear Birthday
Armour Sans Anguish

- interview by Anna Fitz

Crushing on Caitlin Shearer

Caitlin Shearer is a 19-year-old artist from Australia who specialises in painting girls in dresses, both of which are whimsical, feminine and just slightly offbeat.

What is the Bleeding Knees Club, and how did it start?
The Bleeding Knees Club is my imaginary Peter Pan gang; Never Never Land for young ladies.
It started when I accidentally let some red paint leak across a painting of legs, maybe about four years ago. It looked like bleeding knees and I since haven’t been able to let that imagery go.

You recently did a collaboration with Hopeless Lingerie. How was that experience? Do you plan on doing any more designing in the future?
I love Hopeless Lingerie and the designs that Gabrielle Adamidis comes up with. She is truly talented! It was amazing to work with her to illustrate for Initially, I had just e-mailed her to say how much I adored her work, and a really fantastic collaboration blossomed from that. Fashion illustration is something I would really like to get into as a career. Designing clothes is something I am looking at too.
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