SHE STARTED WITH $100
Alley Hernandez is a shining example of the #girlboss movement popularized by Sophia Amoruso, a comparison that is probably spot on seeing as how they share similar trajectories. Alley is the brains behind the three year-old vintage e-store, Vintage Alley Shop. Bright, bubbly with a megawatt grin, she is the type of person who can make a stranger feel like a close friend. This doesn't discount the fact that she also commands the attention and respect of her peers because one conversation will alert you to the fact that she is a serious business woman. When we met Alley she was zipping around the room, networking like an all star, always gracious and kind while representing her business. Like the beginning of so many success stories, she found herself backed into a corner professionally: she was in a new city with limited funds and few friends to rely on so she sprung into action. Alley acted on her love of vintage fashion and with the encouragement of a friend launched an eBay store. Soon after seeing success she transitioned into a full e-commerce store. Talk about turning lemon into lemonade!
Read on to see why Alley Hernandez is a Daring Creative.
In a few sentences, please tell us about yourself:
I’ve always loved fashion and worked in retail. Straight out of high school I went into store management, so at that point I kind of figured I’d be doing this for the rest of my life. And I think I was right!
When did you decide to pursue your current career path?
Right around the end of 2012 when I was brand new to LA. I had completely started over with my life, was in between jobs and broke. Someone told me they made extra money by selling stuff on eBay. I was like “Is that right? Hmmm...” That was the initial seed planted in my head to venture into e-commerce.
How did you go from idea to execution?
Starting out I didn’t have a car, any connections, or resources. But I knew there was a thrift store around the corner from where I lived. I would walk over there every weekend and look for the cutest dresses I could find. At that point they weren’t even vintage. I’d just buy a few items, flip the prices, and sell them on eBay. I continued to do it because I really enjoyed thrift shopping. It was fun. At the time it was more of a hobby and a way for to keep my Tap card (Los Angeles public metro) loaded because I was catching two buses and a train to and from work everyday. It wasn’t until a year later that I started looking at Vintage Alley Shop as a full time business with growth potential. That’s when I finally launched our website.
How does the city you live in influence your creativity?
In LA you see a little bit of everything, fashion-wise, which is great if you’re a creative person. I’ll see something that inspires me and make a mental note to recreate the look for a future photo shoot.
In your words, what does it mean to be a “creative”?
A creative follows his or her own path and no one else’s. They are the leaders among a sea of followers.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
Absolutely- and you start questioning whether or not you’re doing something wrong. But I think I’ve experienced enough rejection to know it’s not necessarily a bad thing. There could always be a better opportunity around the corner.
In thinking about the things that you have created, is there something that you hated but the public may have loved - and perhaps purchased?
Dashikis are hot right now. We sell out every time they’re in stock. But when an item becomes too trendy, I’m over it. They kind of lost their appeal to me.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue the same career as you?
Try to balance marketing your brand online and in the real world. Some of us are lucky to generate business entirely from social media. For others, we have to get out there and hustle. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool as well. I wish I were more of a social butterfly and would have done this sooner. Collaborate with individuals in your local area who support you.
Who is someone famous that you think is killing it at the moment? In other words, is they’re someone who’s career you admire.
Susan G. Koger (Co-Founder of Modcloth) is awesome. I love what her brand embodies and how inclusive it is to women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.
Finish this sentence:
I want people to remember me as: A great wife, mother, and businesswoman.
If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would: Drive up to Monterey and spend the day at the beach.
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: Beyonce "Run the Word (Girls)"
For more on Alley Hernandez or to shop her vintage store, check out her site: vintagealleyshop.com