Monday, December 30, 2013

The CraftStar Featured Artist of the Week: Vintage Gems

The CraftStar Featured Artist of The Week:  Vintage Gems

Vintage 1920 illustrated copy Tales From the Arabian Nights

My name is Jade Dawson ....

... and I am a displaced Texan living in Maine. I live with my longtime boyfriend, Beard, and our two cat-children, Tofu and Toothless.

vintage cat salt and pepper shakers

My business is Vintage Gems Maine and is available at

It is a store catering to vintage items I love. I focus primarily on books, tobacciana, and salt and pepper shakers, because those are things that I can get excited about. If you don't care for your product and get enthusiastic about it, why sell it?

vintage pin up girl ashtray: 1950's rare tin advertisement

What Are Your Greatest Accomplishments?

First of all is my greatest life accomplishment thus far: I can wiggle one ear at a time. I am an avid music lover and gamer, but with a twist. I play my music from a record player and my games from a super Nintendo. Though in my twenties, I have difficulties using technological devices. Lastly, I suppose it would be that I have been collecting vintage and antique items for over a decade. My stepfather owned an antique store in Texas and he got me hooked.

antique Chinese bronze hand mirror:  1800's children playing

How Did You Start Your Business?

I started Vintage Gems out of the need for more space. I start collections, but when I stop them and start finding new things I eventually run out of room. I decided to begin sharing the things I love with others who would appreciate them.

Vintage Gems Maine isn't a viable full time option, but, luckily, I love my day job as an assistant manager of customer service with a large company. I write my own schedule each week, so it gives me the flexibility to get things done when it comes to my shop.

Most days I go to work, come home and cook, and then watch a little Antiques Roadshow before bed. My days off, however, are generally spent scouring garage sales, flea markets, and antique stores.
I haven't hit any roadblocks yet, but I am sure some future horror stories will be coming my way. Because I probably just jinxed myself.

Rare Vintage pig with instruments salt and pepper shakers, animal guitar and accordion

What Do You See As the Benefits of Running an e:commerce Business?

Definitely the ability to do things the way I want rather than how somebody tells me to do it.  I am my own employee. I buy, research, and sell all on my lonesome. Sometimes I make Beard do a post office run for me, but I consider that as one of his boyfriend obligations.   I hope that one day my shop will become well known and trusted for quality vintage and antique pieces. That means more money to go towards digging for treasures!

Vintage 1963 copy Botanic Manuscript of Jane Colden, First Woman Botanist of Colonial America, RARE

What Couldn't You Live Without Running Your Business?

My books and Google! I don't think people realize how much research time goes into authenticating items. Google helps, but it really stems from my books on marks, collectibles, etc. They help me ensure I am being as accurate as possible when showing my wares. The third would definitely be Beard. He encourages me and acts excited for me every time I come home from treasure hunting ( It's what he calls it), even if he thinks the items are hideous. He has always pushed me to continue my shop.

Vintage chorus line planter, Japanese black and white tuxedo decor

How Do You Use Social Media?

Honestly, I tried the whole Facebook and Pinterest thing, but while it brought favorites (via expensive ads) it never brought sales. It lies defunct for the time being.  I focus on my titles and tags, primarily. I specialize in a lot of hard to find and unique products, so that has generally been enough for me. Searching for tt patent ashtrays in Google brings my shop up near the top. People who are looking for these specific things will be able to find me. I'm a bit old school, I suppose.

What Are Your Best Sellers?

Being vintage, I generally only have one of each item, so its hard to have best sellers. My home decor tends to do well. My absolute favorite items right now are my tin pin up girl ashtrays. They are just so interesting to me. Plus I got a deal on them, so I was able to price them low.

Vintage pin up girl ashtray: 1950's rare tin advertisement

What's Caught Your Eye on The CraftStar?

The first is banana bread soap.  I refuse to use soap from the store and waiting for my supply of handmade to dwindle under 30 bars before I go Barry in her shop. I mean, who wouldn't want to smell like delicious baked goods?! 

Also, Binx from Hocus Pocus, but more adorable.  This seller (The Feltery) has recently been slamming handmade full of her felted dolls. I have decided I need them all.

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