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Community Highlights: Meet Katie May of May’s Place

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie May. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve worked in retail since I was 16. In college, I decided to take that passion for fashion and style and study fashion merchandising. At the time, I aspired to work in styling, fashion journalism or trend forecasting. I worked in corporate fashion for a few years before deciding that was not the environment, I wanted to work in. I found my values in total opposition to the way the industry operates, so I decided to leave my job in 2014 to pursue selling vintage online. 

I’ve thrifted for as long as I can remember. It satisfied my love of shopping on a small budget and amplified my creativity when it came to my personal style. I also appreciated the sustainability aspect of shopping secondhand. Most fashion trends are cyclical and pull from the past, but when the originals are still out there, why not buy that instead? 

I had a bumpy start adjusting to self-employment but things really took off when we found the perfect storefront. It was a small space in our neighborhood in South St. Louis City. Rent was inexpensive so it seemed silly not to try a brick-and-mortar shop. Initially, my husband and I introduced a general store concept, named after his great grandfather’s general store and tavern, called May’s Place. I’d have a rack of my vintage clothing in the shop and together we would source vintage and antique furniture, housewares, and local goods. 

As time passed, I filled the space with more and more vintage clothing and it really took off. Two years ago, we moved from our little corner to the Grove to be more forward-facing in one of the most progressive neighborhoods in the city. We’re now in our sixth year in business. Our team has grown from the days of being a one-woman show, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without this amazing group of women! 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Owning a business is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Most creative people go into business because there’s something that they’re passionate about or do really well, but there’s also the whole ‘business’ part – accounting, marketing, inventory management, there’s this constant sink or swim feeling of having to just figure it out as you go. Inevitably you figure out what you need to learn and that challenge gets easier, but there’s always a new challenge to tackle. The good thing is you’re always learning and growing and you’re able to reach new heights that you wouldn’t have previously thought yourself capable of. Owning a business is definitely a crash course in personal growth and development. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
May’s Place is known for offering unique, quality, fashion-forward vintage apparel and accessories. We strive to create an inclusive, uplifting environment where folks can come and experiment with their personal style to find what best represents them. We believe personal style is one of the strongest forms of self-expression and has the power to show the world who you are without having to say a word. When you’re confident in how you look, you stand tall and face the day with confidence. We love to outfit people in standout, one of a kind looks as unique as our customers.

Our slogan “Be Green , Buy Vintage” represents our mission to offer a sustainable alternative to the harmful practices of the modern fashion industry and to empower our audience to think differently about how and where they shop. In our 6 years in business, we’ve re-homed literally thousands of garments, offering new life to something that could have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

How do you think about luck?
I don’t know if I believe in luck so much as divine timing. I believe when you’re on your path opportunities come up and if you’re open to them they present you with what you need to move closer towards your goals. There have been many instances of synchronicity in the last 6 years. Whether it was being in the right place at the right time, or having chance conversations with the right people that created an opportunity. Putting yourself and your ideas out there consistently is a big part of it.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Virginia Harold

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