Taking Time Pays Off: Toronto designer heads home to Guelph, opens her own store at 24

Take Time Vintage's store window on November 13. Via: Take Time Vintage.
Take Time Vintage’s store window on November 13. Via: Take Time Vintage.

I first met Stephanie Traplin in the heat of the summer. It was a sticky day in mid-July and the humidity was radiating off of Toronto’s sidewalks and nearby parked cars. I had entered a pop-up shop in the city’s west end and found Stephanie selling upcycled-to-die-for clothing under the name Take Time Vintage. For those of you who follow this blog, I’ve already told that story.

Today, though, I am excited to share something new. Stephanie had hoped to open her very own store in her hometown, Guelph. The 24-year-old is now not only a local designer, but she’s made her dreams of opening a shop come true.

Read our full interview below.

1. You had hoped to open your store by September 2015, when did your store open?

September 8, 2015.

2. Having totally blown your goal out of the water, how do you feel knowing that you achieved something you really wanted to so early in your career?

Having achieved that goal I’m thinking most about the future and what is next for Take Time.

3. Who has been your biggest support since Take Time Vintage opened in Guelph?

Apart from my endlessly supportive friends and family, fellow business owners and downtown employees have been enormously welcoming and supportive.

4. What was it like the first day your store was open for business?

It felt pretty surreal showing up for work at a space I had gutted and pieced back together over the past month-and-a-half. It was supposed to rain all day and I was pretty nervous that no one would show up. At 11:01am, several pals walked in the door and it all became very real and relaxed.

5. What did you learn within your first week of being a store owner?

No one shops between 1pm and 2pm from Monday to Friday.

6. Would you change anything about Take Time Vintage’s grand opening?

I wouldn’t change a thing. I threw a grand opening party on September 26 and it was the best. Lots of old and new friends came out and we had a blast. There is nothing like shopping with a glass of red wine in hand. I’d like to host events like that more often.

7. Tell me about the location of your store.

Take Time is located in the heart of downtown Guelph…upstairs and around the corner. It’s in a spacious unit off of what was once called “the courtyard.” I’ve learned the history behind the space from various customers coming into the shop and sharing their memories with me from the ’70s through to the mid ’00s, which was the last time anything in the courtyard was active.

The courtyard is a second floor outdoor space with multiple units surrounding a square in the centre. There are two entrances to the space which bridge a shortcut between Carden and Macdonell Sts. Along with a driving school, Take Time is the only active business up there. [I’m hopeful] that will change as there are several other spaces available.

Take Time Vintage's store layout. Via: Take Time Vintage.
Take Time Vintage’s store layout. Via: Take Time Vintage.

8. How do you ensure your brand is reflected in your store’s layout and design?

I had a solid idea of what I wanted the space to look and feel like. Open, neutral and inviting. The first thing to go was the wall-to-wall carpet followed by the bright blue painted walls (adorned with nails and holes). In terms of design, I took cues from some of my favourite vintage and general stores in Toronto and Montréal, but ultimately made it my own.

All of the fixtures in the shop are made out of old barn board and piping by my carpenter friend Max Hewson (contact info below*). I built the change rooms out of PVC piping and sewed six nine foot curtains for them, which was a lot of fun. So to answer your question: Having put so much work into the space, I feel like the brand, which is all about repurposing and connecting past with present, is naturally reflected in the space.

Stephanie's desk by Max Hewson. Via: Take Time Vintage.
Stephanie’s desk by Max Hewson. Via: Take Time Vintage.

9. Are you still upcycling clothes to sell in your store?

Yes, to a lesser extent than I was over the summer. There are more options in terms of altering summer wear as opposed to fall and winter wear. I’m still doing minor alterations here and there. If a customer tries on a dress or skirt and wants it slightly shorter I’ll hem it on the spot for them. I keep busy in the shop making jewellery, sewing patches and scrunchies out of scrap fabrics from past alterations.

10. Explain how you manage being a store owner, business operator and designer?

I’m in the shop seven hours a day, five days a week. I can get a lot done there. It was important when I designed my desk that there was enough space for my sewing machine, serger, till and laptop. That being said, I have a lovely employee now who has made my life a lot easier, Katie. Before Katie joined me, I was working in the shop six days a week and picking [for upcycling] on Mondays. It was necessary and I managed, but I was very stressed out.

11. Based on your social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), I can see that you are also selling other vendors’ products at Take Time Vintage. How do you find third-party products to sell? 

I met a lot of amazing crafts people while vending at local markets and festivals with Take Time over the past year. I held on to many business cards and have been reaching out to people since I opened the shop.

12. Still attending fairs and festivals, which is one you’ve recently gone to? 

I was lucky enough to be a vendor at the first ever Guelph Night Market which was a great success. To reiterate, there is nothing like shopping with a glass of red wine in hand.

13. What’s it like now, having moved back to Guelph after living in Toronto for a few years?

It takes me a long time to adjust to change, even if it is in a familiar place. I’m not going to lie, it took a while to feel comfortable here again. Now that it has been the better half of a year, I’m really enjoying it. There is great group of likeminded people in Guelph. We have a great music scene and there are some very special spots in the downtown area.

14. Do you see yourself ever moving back to Toronto?

I wouldn’t rule it out. Although, it is terribly expensive. I’d like to focus on what I have going on in Guelph for now and who knows what the future holds.

15. What would you say has been the scariest part of this journey so far?

Fear of failure. Which fluctuates day to day. I’m feeling pretty confident at the moment.

A little girl carved this stamp for Stephanie and delivered it to her house with her dad. It is now her favourite possession. Via: Take Time Vintage.
A little girl carved this stamp for Stephanie and delivered it to her house with her dad. It is now her favourite possession. Via: Take Time Vintage.

16. What has the best part of this journey been for you?

Working for myself has been very liberating. I also love that I meet new people everyday. I’ve made some pretty great friends from this endeavour.

17. What advice do you have for other 20-somethings hoping to take a huge business venture, like open a store, in the near future?

If it feels right, do it.

18. What have you learned about yourself in this process?

I cry a lot. I suppose I already knew that, but there have been some waterworks on this rollercoaster venture. There were several instances where I thought I might not be able to do this; not to sound like a cliché, but where there’s a will there’s a way. I learned I have a stubborn AF will.

A huge thank you to Stephanie for chatting with us again about her ventures as a designer, business-owner and passionate 20-something. Congratulations on all your success so far!

Stay tuned for more updates from Take Time Vintage.

*As promised, here are Maxwell’s Custom Carpentry’s digits: (604) 802-6604. You can also get in touch via email!

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