Q&A with Michaela Michael of Hazlewood
2. Do you find that there is a common issue or hurdle that occurs with finding quality vintage pieces?
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.
4. What lights you up about running your business? What drains you? How do you deal with balancing or managing each?
5. What are your favourite or treasured pieces that you have kept for your home?
7. Do you have any insights gleaned from running your business that you think are often left out of the limelight?
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.
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?
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.
Tell me 5 random things about you that may not be well known.
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!