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Jennifer Astle, Owner of 'The Birdcage' Online Vintage Clothing Store (INTERVIEW)

— May 24, 2012 — Business
A booming newcomer to the online vintage clothing store industry, 'The Birdcage' owner Jennifer Astle is a shining example of what happens when a creative mind takes advantage of change.

When faced with some unwelcome career news, Jennifer embraced her seemingly dire situation and created her own business. She took control of her career and launched an online clothing boutique that reflected her lifelong love of fashion. Selling one-of-a-kind vintage pieces at reasonable prices, 'The Birdcage' is a highly curated collection of covetable finds.

10 Questions with Jennifer Astle

1. How did you start The Bird Cage and what motivates you to continue?

I had been talking about doing it for a long time, and dreaming about it for even longer. A few years ago I was laid off, and I had a lot of time to think about what I would do with my career. I've always been creative, so "making something" has always been important to me. The one thing I kept coming back to again and again was fashion. After I graduated from STU, I went into visual merchandising because I wanted to be a part of the industry. I eventually went back to work, and the idea was shelved.

At the end of March I was laid off again, and it became very clear to me that it was now or never. I thought about [Jeremy Gutsche's book] Exploiting Chaos, and decided to use what looked like a professional setback and turn it into an opportunity. I had the idea, I had access to the resources, and I had no excuses. I sold some of my own wardrobe in online auctions to help purchase the inventory, built the site with an e-commerce platform, and launched. I haven't looked back since.

2. How do you define a trend?

I define a trend as that brilliant moment between obscurity and mainstream.

3. How do you define cool?

I think cool is subjective. Whatever it is that gives you the confidence to be who you want to be is cool. It's such an individual thing.

4. What do you like most about Trend Hunter?

Aside from the visual eye candy from the image-rich content, I love the Trend Hunter community. I always feel very humble, even in their virtual presence because they are such force for creativity.

5. What is the best way to create an infectious idea, product or service?

Talk about it and influence others to do the same. We have an immensely powerful tool for sharing information at our fingertips everyday, and people are beginning to look to their social interactions online for recommendations and reviews more than ever. It's word of mouth, gone viral. I think we are just beginning to see the influence that has on trends.

6. What is the most important trend you see in the online fashion world?

I think the online fashion world will transform the industry from a brand dominated landscape to an independent and less mass produced one. The Internet can give independent entrepreneurs and designers the resources to make their ideas a reality, while the people they want to attract increasingly go looking for what they want online, rather than just accepting what is presented to them in a store or at a mall. I think we will see independent brands become more empowered.

7. What are your ambitions for The Bird Cage?

For now, to constantly build and improve. I would like to make The Birdcage Canada's top name in online vintage shopping. I would also like to eventually build relationships with independent clothing and accessory designers to offer a more extensive modern collection.

8. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?

I live in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, which is a beautiful sea-side community with views that leave you speechless. When I want to reset, I leave my iPhone in the car, and take my dog down to the beach. Something about being near water cleans the slate for me.

9. Professionally, what do you want to be doing in 10 years?

In ten years I would like to be travelling the world far and wide for inspiration with my husband, being involved in fashion industry events, and buying for The Birdcage.

10. What are your most important hobbies?

I read and write a lot, which is really important to me, and I am a news junkie. I like anything that has a story.

Thanks Jennifer!
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