Q&A with Michaela Michael of Hazlewood

Q&A with Michaela Michael of Hazlewood

Apr 14, 2021Britt Buntain
Michaela is the owner of Hazlewood in Saskatoon, Sk. She's been carrying our products in her gorgeous shop and I've been a frequent visitor and buyer from her vintage selection of clothing. Her curation is simply gorgeous and I am always scheming to figure out how to bring some of their furniture over to the island! I've asked her some questions here and I love what I learned from her, including where the name of her shop was inspired from. I can relate to her advice for budding entrepreneurs and love the advice she has for her younger self. I hope you enjoy this little read and there's a code to get 15% off her online shop in here too!
Hazlewood Vintage, Saskatoon SK
1. In one or two sentences, tell me about the work you do and what projects/products/ services you are most excited about working on at the moment.

I own and run Hazlewood, a vintage clothing, accessory and home goods store in Saskatoon, SK. I curate the vintage pieces and the handmade goods that we carry in store. Right now I’m excited about an all new online store that we just launched. The switch over from our old website was a lot of work, but the new site will hopefully streamline the whole process for us and allow us to grow our online presence. 

 2. Do you find that there is a common issue or hurdle that occurs with finding quality vintage pieces?

Before the pandemic it was a lot easier to find quality vintage pieces. I love acquiring vintage from people who reach out that are downsizing, inviting me into their homes and telling me the stories of how the pieces lived before moving along to me. I love hearing the stories behind the pieces themselves. I also love thrifting while traveling. Anything from small town thrift shops to flea markets in California. I usually try to plan thrifting trips around vacations with my partner.  (He loves me for that one hahaha.) Obviously with the pandemic, a lot of that is harder to do. Things are a little different now and I still find time to thrift but I also have a few people that I work with to keep the store stocked with new finds.
Saskatchewan River Bank
3. Has running a shop been something that you've always dreamed of doing or is there a good story about how you came to be doing this?

I don’t know if I always dreamed of opening my own store but I do remember little things pointing me in the direction of it. I remember all throughout my childhood my mom buying and selling vintage clothing and jewelry to consignment stores in Saskatoon. This stuck with me all the way to being a young adult living in Montreal and visiting beautiful shops and really starting to romanticize the idea of it. I started collecting vintage back in those days because I just couldn’t let myself leave so much good stuff behind. When I was back in Saskatoon I started a small general store with a few friends above a restaurant that I was bar manager at and that’s when I really started selling vintage under the name Hazlewood. It was around that time when I decided to start working towards opening my own shop. I wanted to offer a more sustainable approach to fashion with vintage clothing and clothing that you could wear everyday. I was a little naïve in retrospect. I was 25, didn’t have much money (thank you to the loan and grant I was able to apply for), and had no idea of how to actually run a business. I also only worked 6 months total in retail over the years before opening a retail store (I always worked in hospitality.) When I opened Hazlewood, my mom gifted me her whole vintage collection and it almost felt like she had kept all the pieces to pave the way for me to open a store. That combined with what I had saved myself from collecting made it possible to make a bit of over head and keep me afloat while I was figuring out how to do this whole thing. I don’t recommend doing it that way, and I probably would try and do it differently if I did it again, but I’ve grown and learned so much along the way that now I can appreciate throwing myself into it like that.
Michaela Michael's Mom - Hazlewood Vintage
4. What lights you up about running your business? What drains you? How do you deal with balancing or managing each?
Getting out and thrifting for the store is something I really enjoy doing. As well as any aspects of running the store that give me a creative outlet. Store design, the instagram account, and editorial shoots definitely light me up. I find the business side of things to sometimes be a bit tedious and stressful. I have a hard time balancing the fun parts with the stressful parts, but both are important for the business and need to be done, I just hope I get better at balancing the latter.

5. What are your favourite or treasured pieces that you have kept for your home? 

The last piece I kept was a midcentury cowhide chair and ottoman that I will treasure forever. I used to sell everything I found because I felt I needed to keep the store stocked but spending more time at home due to the pandemic changed that a bit and I wanted to make my home more comfortable and reflect more of myself. I started to really go through my space and decide what fit and what I grew out of. 

Vintage Chair
6. Something that I have been personally working on for years now is learning how to discern the difference between knowing when it's fear or intuition that’s leading me. Can you relate, or tell me about how you define this for yourself?

To be honest I’m not sure that’s something that I have totally figured out myself. Sometimes things can come very easily. You have an idea and it all falls into place without a lot of effort. Sometimes things come not so easy. Some projects or tasks that shouldn’t be difficult can create a great amount of stress and anxiety. I guess it’s just a matter of learning to ride that wave when things are flowing well, and working through that fear when things seem hard.

7. Do you have any insights gleaned from running your business that you think are often left out of the limelight? 

How much hard work it’s actually going to be and how much you have to pay in taxes haha.

8. Tell me about a time when you had to make a big change or pivot in your life. How did you know that it was time to shift? What tools supported you?

I feel like a big shift came after three years in business when the lease on the space was up. At that point my landlord wanted to expand the space, which also meant an increase in rent. I kind of had to decide whether I should stay in the same space, try and find a new place for the shop, or even if it was worth continuing on. I guess it was sort of a crossroads in the business if I was in it for the long run or not. In the end we decided to stay and go all in on the expanded space. Me and my partner committed to some long late night hours of doing renovations ourselves to make it possible to stay and I couldn’t be happier about it. I love the way the space and the business have grown and developed together over the years.
Michaela Michael of Hazlewood Vintage
9. What challenges have you overcome that lead you to a deeper understanding or a shift in perspective for you over the last year through the pandemic?

The beginning of the pandemic was a really scary time as I’m sure it was for any small business  as well as everyone not knowing what the uncertain future would bring. The pandemic really forced me to reevaluate how the shop was run. Without being able to rely on customers coming in the shop, it made me focus on how we can still provide for the customer through online sales, Instagram story sales, etc. Life (and business) can be really unpredictable and sometimes you just have to learn how to adapt and shift the way you do business because you have no choice. Luckily for the store, I feel like the pandemic has really reminded people of the importance of supporting local small businesses. I’m very thankful for all the customers who have kept us going during these tough times.

10. What would your advice be to a budding creative entrepreneurs?

I think my best advice would be to hire a bookkeeper or hire out for business work you aren’t good at. Hone in on your craft and let that be where you focus your energy. I spent a lot of time in the beginning trying to do our books to save money but in the end the amount that you spend on the help you need is incomparable to the time you waste trying to figure it out yourself.
Michaela Michael's home- Hazlewood Vintage
11. What are you most proud of?

Probably as far as I have come with Hazlewood. When you are immersed in work and moving forward you tend to forget to see how far you’ve actually come and now that I’m looking back I’m really proud I get to work for myself through something that I created.

12. What would you tell your younger self?
Probably to be kinder and softer to yourself. And to try your best to not compare yourself or your business to others.

Tell me 5 random things about you that may not be well known. 
1. I am pretty shy, introverted and awkward haha! Does that count as 1 or 3 things? It wasn’t until owning Hazlewood that I was forced to get comfortable with being more outgoing. I still go through times of being really shy or needing space. Usually when the instagram gets quiet It’s not that there isn’t anything new or exciting, I’m just taking some space for myself. 
2. I grew up in Saskatoon but always thought I wanted to move away and live in a bigger city. I left Saskatoon to live in Edmonton after high school and then shortly after went to live in Montreal for awhile. When I was younger I thought I needed to get out of my hometown, but something always brought me back. I think there is definitely something special about Saskatoon and that’s what kept bringing me back.
3. I cry a lot. Cute animals, babies, movies, a heart warming story or even a good joke usually has me in tears. 
4. The shop is named after the country musician Lee Hazlewood who I was listening to a lot at the time and felt like the name fit. He was also a music producer and wrote music for many other artists including Nancy Sinatra. (Look up the album Lee & Nancy if you want a good place to start.) Old cowboy, denim, desert, wrote “These Boots Are Made For Walkin” - seemed fitting. That’s why the name is spelled the way it is. Over the years I’ve definitely fielded my share of people telling me that “Hazlewood” is really spelled “Hazelwood”. Haha.  
5. I have never done a blog feature before! Or really written much about myself. So thank you Britt for pushing me out of my comfort zone and allowing me to share a bit mine and the shop’s story!   
Lee Hazlewood
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