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Episode 185: Small Business Is The Future, with Emma of BERRIEZ

Small business is the future! Or at least, a better future depends on more small businesses and a lot less big businesses!

Emma Zack of BERRIEZ is here to tell us all about the lessons she has learned over the past few years as a small business owner.  She will share advice she has for all of you small business owners out there, whether you’ve been doing it for years, just getting started, or maybe just fantasizing about leaving your dumb job to work for yourself!  She’ll also tell us what she would like to say to the big fashion brands out there that refuse to offer plus sizes.

We’ll also hear audio essays from Alyse of Curio Mrvosa, Brittany of Magdalene Clergy Dresses, and Desirée of The Pewter Thimble.

Learn more about Small Biz Big Pic.

Take the Clotheshorse Secondhand Reseller Survey here.

Find and follow everyone in this episode…

BERRIEZ: @shopberriez
Emma on the Today Show!!

CURIO MRVOSA: @curiomrvosa

MAGDALENE CLERGY DRESSES: @magdaleneclergydresses

THE PEWTER THIMBLE: @thepewterthimble

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]
Or call the Clotheshorse hotline: 717.925.7417


Welcome to Clotheshorse, the podcast that kinda can’t believe it’s almost December.


I’m your host Amanda, and this is episode 185. I am super excited about this week’s guest, Emma of Berriez! Berriez  “sells one-of-a-kind vintage and reworked vintage, plus clothing & accessories from emerging designers.”  And Emma has been just constantly blowing my mind over the past few years by curating an offering of clothing that merges art with sustainability with wearability.  I’m beyond excited to have her on the pod this week!  

Back in October, when I started calling for submissions for audio essays from small business owners, Emma said “hey, I want to submit an audio essay about my experiences as a small business owner, but i think it will be like an hour long.” So I told her to come on the podcast instead! So today, Emma and I will be talking about her experiences over the past few years, what she’s learned from it all, and advice she has for all of you small business owners out there, whether you’ve been doing it for years, just getting started, or maybe just fantasizing about leaving your dumb job to work for yourself!


But before we jump into that, we have a few things to do first.


I think there is still A LOT of confusion and misinformation out there about resellers: who they are, why they do it, how much money they make, and where they source their inventory.


I put together a survey that will collect data and thoughts from as many secondhand resellers as possible.


This info will be used for a future episode of the podcast in the new year revisiting the world of reselling.  I also want to share your thoughts, etc on future social media posts.


I’ve engineered this survey to be as fast and painless as possible! And I really appreciate any of you who take the time to participate.

But to sweeten the deal: any secondhand reseller who completes the survey will be entered to win a 30 second ad spot in a January episode of Clotheshorse. One winner will be chosen at random.

This is a pretty sick prize because Clotheshorse has become one of the top fashion podcasts in the world so your business will be in the ears of many rad people from around the world!


To be entered in the contest, you have to complete the survey by December 15.


So far I have received about 250 responses.  A few are people who just wanted to be entered to win the advertising spot, so they didn’t fill any thing in.  And there are a few strange ones that might be fake from anti-reseller people? It’s hard to say. But in general, everyone who has responded has been so thoughtful and interesting.  I have been gradually working my way through the responses, reading them one-by-one. And it has been a genuinely moving, emotional experience. So thank you to everyone who has participated so far.


I have this fantasy–that I think could become a reality–where at least 500 people respond to the survey. I think 500 is a good place to say “hey, this is some legit data that points to certain things about what it means to be a reseller right now.”  So, if you are a secondhand reseller and you’ve been procrastinating on responding, please get on it!  And tell your friends.

I’ll share the link in the show notes.

Okay, it’s November, so that means that in every episode for the rest of the year, I am sharing audio essays from small business owners in our community.  For me, it is one way I can support the small business owners in our community.  And I also just love learning more about people in our community, their lives, their passions, and their work.  


In this week’s episode we are going to listen to THREE audio essays.

The first one is from Alyse of Curio Mrvosa, one of my favorite businesses here in the Austin-ish area.  Curio Mrvosa is located in Taylor, a small town about 45 minutes away from my house.  And while Dustin and I ultimately decided to move back to PA at the end of this year, we definitely gave a lot of consideration to moving to Taylor instead.  We looked at a few houses for rent, talked about it quite a bit, but ultimately, I just need to move to a different climate. Summer here in Austin has been one 4-5 month long migraine day for me because my body just cannot handle the heat.  But if you’re ever in Austin, I urge you to go check out Taylor because it’s so cool. There’s an amazing antique mall called Vintique.  And the old high school has been turned in a really cool sort of “mall” with different shops and businesses in every classroom.   And of course, Curio Mrvosa is there. I swear there isn’t a trip to Taylor when Dustin and I don’t buy a book from Alyse!  Okay, let’s listen to her essay.


Thanks again, Alyse for taking time to record an audio essay.  I have to say one of the reasons I love small businesses and want to offer them all of my support is that they are part of the community in the way that a Target or a TJ Maxx will never be, right? In fact, if a small business isn’t being an active participant in their community, whether it’s IRL or virtual, they probably won’t succeed. I think a lot of people think “anyone” can succeed as a small business owner, but it’s way more complicated than that.  You have to be passionate and engaged with your community.  You have to be working on something that means SO MUCH to you that you don’t mind working long hours, dealing with difficult customers, and being really, really tired sometimes.  It has to be more than just a job from an emotional level or you’re going to get sick of doing it.


And you know what?  You have to be brave.  Because working for yourself is scary as shit.  Which is a great transition to the next audio essay, from Brittany of Magdalene Clergy Dresses.  Let’s give it a listen.


Thank you so much Brittany for sharing yourself with us in a really vulnerable way.  I actually know Brittany from Small Biz Big Pic, the small business classes I teach with Courtney of Sonic Wave Vintage.  And I see how focused and committed Brittany is to making her business work.  She really works so hard, thinks so much about everything, takes the homework I assign very seriously (thank you, Brittany). But I think also Brittany has found the “right” small business for her and it’s really her calling: it combines her faith with her desire to do things in an ethical, sustainable way.  And she has created a business with a very clear focus and unique offering.  Starting your own business is so scary, especially from a financial perspective, but Brittany has been so thoughtful about what she is building, that I can’t help but think that she will be successful.  


Okay, our final essay for this week is from another Small Biz Big Pic person, this one is a graduate, Desiree of The Pewter Thimble.   And I want to be clear that I did not ask her to record this essay. And I was both surprised and moved when I listened to it.  And while (spoiler) she is going to talk about how glad she is that she took the Small Biz Big Pic courses, what she’s really telling you is that you SHOULD invest money in growing your business skills, learning new processes and tools, and learning how to manage your business better. The money you spend really will pay for itself times like 1000.  Okay, so now that I’ve spoiled Desiree’s essay, let’s give it a listen!


Thank you again, Desiree! Courtney is in Japan right now (and yes, I’m jealous) but I’m going to make her listen to this when she returns because I think it will make her day! But also, I’m going to be honest: Desiree totally became the teacher’s pet in our classes because she was serious about learning, rethinking things, trying new ideas, and I have seen it work for her.  I always cite her as a success story!  Once again, being a small business owner is more than just selling stuff.  Even if you have an MBA, you’re still learning something new every day when you’re running your business. And everything is constantly changing. I always suggest people spend money (and figure out where to find that money) to invest in tools for marketing, analytics, and accounting, invest in classes and mentorship/coaching, invest in people to help them do things like social media or whatever else they hate doing/don’t have time to do well.  There are many, many people out there offering these kinds of services (and they are small businesses, too). I recommend you connect with some of them! Of course, I’ll share the website for Small Biz Big Pic with you (it’s $25/month).  


Okay, this episode really is all about small business and I’m pretty excited about it. So let’s jump into my conversation with Emma of Berriez!

Amanda (00:00.352)

Okay. Emma, why don’t you introduce yourself to everybody?


Emma (00:05.89)

Hi, I’m Emma Zack and I am the founder and CEO of Berries. Woo!


Amanda (00:13.316)

Okay, well there you go, that’s fine. Get it done right out of the gate. Get it out of your system. Ha ha ha. Okay, all right, go for it.


Amanda (00:29.782)

Really excited to have you here today, Emma, and you live in New York City, correct?


Emma (00:34.622)

Yes, I live in Brooklyn and I’ve been living here for seven years now. Yeah.


Amanda (00:41.224)

Oh, wow. You seem so New York to me. I just was like, oh, she’s probably like born and raised.


Emma (00:47.874)

I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not.


Amanda (00:49.644)

I think it’s a compliment. I’m from Pennsylvania, so when you’re from Pennsylvania, like New York is very glamorous.


Emma (00:55.742)

Yeah, I actually funny enough hate New York. So that’s a tidbit about me that I don’t tell most people, but it’s true, I hate New York.


Amanda (01:08.86)

Yeah, I mean, there’s a reason I don’t live there. I’ll just say that. So I first met you a couple years ago in like a Zoom, like, you know, hangout session like we all were doing for so long there. And I was really something that surprised me that you said very cash in the conversation was like, oh, like you, you know, you weren’t like a designer, right? Like you hadn’t like always planned on this career and fashion. You were actually doing something.


Emma (01:11.949)

Yeah, yeah.


Emma (01:21.513)



Amanda (01:37.284)

very different in terms of work and career when you started berries. So you want to tell us a little bit about that?


Emma (01:42.062)

Mm-hmm. Yes. I worked for six years out of college at the Innocence Project, which is a nonprofit that works to get innocent people out of prison. And I went to school for sociology and criminology. I worked in jails during my time in college. And I thought that


my life was going to be devoted to abolishing the prison industrial complex.


Amanda (02:18.464)

Which is great too, I would love to see that happen. But I was like, whoa. Like when you just were very cash, you didn’t even say everything that you just said right now in that conversation. And I was like, whoa, like I wanna know more about Emma because that’s really cool. A lot of people who have brands out there right now or like ever totally went to school for design or something very similar. And here you are, like you’re out there in like criminal justice.


Emma (02:21.011)

Yeah! Me too!


Amanda (02:48.668)

which is really, really cool. So tell me like, how do you, you’re doing that in your daytime job, right? When did you sort of start working on berries and like, what did you see happening for it, I guess?


Emma (02:48.675)



Emma (02:59.7)



Emma (03:07.63)

So, even though I was working in the criminal justice sphere, shall we say, I have always been interested in clothes and dressing myself and dressing other people for that matter. So while I was at the Innocence Project, it was around the same time that shopping for vintage on Instagram was becoming a thing.


Amanda (03:21.71)



Emma (03:36.806)

And naturally, as you know, the consumer that I am, I found myself shopping for vintage on Instagram. But at the time I was a size 12, 14, and I could never find anything in my size. And I kind of assumed, you know, I can’t be the only stylish quote unquote plus size because I technically at the time wasn’t.


really plus size, but I still couldn’t find anything in my size. And I, so I figured I couldn’t be the only person that wanted stylish vintage clothes in a size 14. And I knew for a fact that fat people have always existed. So there had to be clothes, even if it was harder to find. Right? What an excuse.


Amanda (04:07.673)



Amanda (04:26.12)

Right, right, yeah, exactly. I mean, you know what I will say, like that, you just dismantled this myth that I constantly see repeated all over social media, which is like, oh, well, people were smaller back then. And it’s like everybody was just like a size zero back then or something. And I’m like, what is with this like fat erasure or tall erasure, you know?


Emma (04:42.732)

Yeah, um, no.


Emma (04:53.418)

Yeah, yeah, and sure, people were smaller. Some people were smaller, but there have always been fat people. I mean, I was just listening to a podcast about the founding of Lane Bryant, and I think Lane Bryant was founded in 1900, which means, hmm, there were fat people back in 1900. So that’s a bullshit excuse.


Amanda (05:19.448)

Yeah, I just see it repeated so often. And I liken it to like, I have humongous feet, okay? And so I have never been able to successfully purchase a pair of vintage shoes. But I know that doesn’t mean that people with big feet didn’t exist in the past. It’s just that like, there were less options, and so people held onto stuff longer, you know? And like, that’s why it’s harder to find. Those people…


Emma (05:30.006)



Emma (05:34.732)



Emma (05:40.128)



Emma (05:45.262)



Amanda (05:49.1)

you know, my foremothers with the big feet might still be wearing those same shoes right now. Cause that’s how I am with shoes. Yeah. So yeah, I just wanted to call that out cause I hear that all the time, but that does like for sure. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of progress in terms of, you know, plus size vintage clothing and you know, new clothing and upcycle clothing on social media, like in the past few years, but like 2020.


Emma (05:54.96)

Yeah, exactly.


Amanda (06:18.732)

No way. It was like a desert.


Emma (06:20.946)

Yes, for sure. It really was. And that’s why it started and why I think it grew so quickly. Because people wanted it.


Amanda (06:34.311)





Emma (06:40.01)

and it wasn’t being offered. I mean, there was a few shops offering it. Shout out to Shop Fatty’s and Lovesick Plus, but other than that, it was, I mean, even now there’s not that many of us doing it.


Amanda (06:55.008)

No, but there’s more than there was. I mean, there’s a long way to go. And definitely, like the need is out there. The want is out there. I’m constantly like, even when I see people starting new clothing brands, right? I’m like, all right, so you’re just like starting another clothing brand that carries extra small through large, like why would you do that? Because for one, there’s already a gazillion brands doing that and two, like you’re dooming yourself to failure.


Emma (06:58.37)

For sure, for sure.


Emma (07:14.582)



Amanda (07:23.12)

if you really wanted to be successful and really dress people and really, especially if you’re a sustainable brand, really show, I don’t know, live those values, then why wouldn’t you be dressing larger people? It’s a bad business sense, you know?


Emma (07:36.59)



Emma (07:40.646)

It really is, and the excuses that I hear to not make larger sizes are just… They’re… I don’t know… stupid and…


Amanda (07:54.74)

No, I agree. I agree. Listen, I’ve worked in this industry for so long and I see it all the time. Like this, and I’ll say this in quotes, the sustainable, like, I don’t know, like athletic where a company reached out to me, they wanted to be on the podcast and talk about their sustainability. And I was like, well, one, I don’t let big companies come on here. But two, I would like love to talk to you about why you don’t go beyond size extra large.


Emma (08:23.118)



Amanda (08:24.undefined)

And like, so if you wanted to like do that, or you could like add more sizes and then come on the podcast and talk about it, I would love for you to be an example that other people could do the same thing. And they were like, well, it’s like really complicated. And I was like, yeah, I worked in the industry for like 20 years. And in most of my jobs, my big focus was extending sizes. So like, it’s not impossible. You know?


Emma (08:46.451)



Emma (08:50.182)

I mean, if I could go from working in criminal justice to doing this, anything is possible.


Amanda (08:56.812)

Right? Anything is possible. Yeah, yeah, I know. I like, yeah, you do have to buy more sizes, right? But then, you know, there’s also like a strategy to make that work. And I think I’m just like so tired of the like, I’m a small business excuse, because it’s often from like people who have a bunch of like VC money or investment coming in. So they have the money.


Emma (09:03.018)



Emma (09:07.409)



Emma (09:13.07)



Amanda (09:20.456)

And I see all kinds of awesome one-person micro businesses out there somehow doing it. You know? Yeah, doing the work. Yeah, absolutely. So OK, so you’re like, there’s no, like there’s very little plus size vintage clothing on the internet. So you’re like, I’m going to put some out there for people.


Emma (09:27.318)

Doing the work, totally.


Emma (09:40.036)



Emma (09:44.55)

Yeah, it really started organically. I was with my friend and we were sitting on my couch and I was like, so I have all this vintage that, because at the time I would buy stuff and it would be shown oversized on a small person or a, you know, size four person so I’d be like, oh it’s gonna fit me and then I’d get it and it would be too small on me, haha, jokes on me. So I had all this these


Amanda (10:03.014)



Emma (10:13.742)

also just had a bunch of vintage because I, I don’t know, was shopping vintage a lot. So I had the clothes that didn’t fit me and then my clothes. So I was like, I’m just going to start and put it out there. And I think I just started by posting on Instagram and seeing what happens. And I would do photo shoots with my friends in my backyard and I would just post those photo shoots on Instagram. And then I shot a lookbook.


and it got picked up by Nylon Magazine. And from there, it just started kind of growing and growing. But eventually, I mean, after I would say two or three months, of course, I had to go out and start sourcing the vintage. It couldn’t just be my own stuff or stuff for my friends. But yeah, it wasn’t anything I was planning ever.


Amanda (10:48.64)



Amanda (11:02.97)



Emma (11:13.25)

but it felt right and even when I did start doing it, I wasn’t thinking of it as a business at all. I was just thinking of it as like, oh, I’m gonna hang out with my friends and sell clothes to other fat people and hopefully they like it. It wasn’t ever, okay, I’m gonna sit down, crunch the numbers, see what’s gonna happen, we’re gonna have a business. It grew into that.


Amanda (11:37.866)



Amanda (11:41.924)

And that’s incredible. When did you start doing berries full time?


Emma (11:46.75)

I quit my job in December 2020, so I guess you could say January 2021.


Amanda (11:54.816)

That’s amazing. Wow, it’s been like close, I guess it’s been like three years just about now since you’ve been doing it full time. So, were you scared to make that jump?


Emma (12:00.818)

Yeah, right? Whoa, yeah. Hoo hoo.


Emma (12:08.562)

I was terrified. I mean, my whole life, my parents were kind of just like, you’re gonna have a nine to five and that’s gonna be your life. And there’s no way to make money outside of having a nine to five. And I didn’t know any creatives growing up. And I genuinely couldn’t imagine a life.


Amanda (12:22.152)



Emma (12:38.286)

not working a nine-to-five with benefits and a salary. So I was really afraid and I knew that I wasn’t going to have my, you know, cushy, innocent, sporadic salary and benefits. But I also knew that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled and that this was a gap that I felt really


Amanda (12:59.368)



Emma (13:07.298)

compelled and passionate about filling. And my mom, who’s also an entrepreneur, she started a home care company by herself. It’s funny, around the same time that I started this, started Berries when she was 30, 32. And she was like, Emma, now’s the time you gotta take a risk. Just take the jump and just go for it. And I was like, you know, if my mom believes in me.


Amanda (13:24.542)

Oh wow.


Amanda (13:30.289)



Amanda (13:35.604)



Emma (13:35.658)

and everyone around me believed in me, why couldn’t I believe in myself?


Amanda (13:41.184)

Yeah, I mean, this is I think there are a lot of people who are gonna hear you say that. It’d be like, yeah, that’s me too. You know? I mean, it’s like really scary. And I think, you know, even for me for like so many years, people would be like, why don’t you, you hate working for these big like corporate overlords? Like, why don’t you go start your own business? And I was like, I’m too scared. And…


Emma (13:47.83)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Amanda (14:06.632)

I like the difference between like people asking me that question then and people maybe asking you that question now it’s like I Didn’t have a thing that was gonna drive me. You know what I mean? Whereas like you have that with berries like you What you’re the work you’re doing is important. It’s a business, but it’s like important to beyond even just like the selling of clothing, you know, it has this like


Emma (14:26.702)



Emma (14:33.826)



Amanda (14:34.724)

emotional social ripple effect. And it’s like also kind of like, I don’t know, it’s like an instrument of change really that needs to happen.


Emma (14:43.966)

It is, and I know that now, but it took time for me to know that.


Amanda (14:52.508)

Yeah, I’m sure. So when you and I were prepping for this episode, you told me, you said like, listen, I wanna say you said it was last year. There was a time period that was really bad for the business.


Emma (15:01.762)



Emma (15:05.142)

Yep, started in March last year. It started declining in March. So COVID happened and I’m sure a bunch of other small businesses can say the same thing that business was great. Business was booming. People were shopping. We all had our stimulus checks. It was great. And I was like, people are shopping during COVID. Everything’s gonna be fine.


Amanda (15:25.761)

Yep, yep.


Emma (15:34.098)

Um, and it wasn’t, and what happens for me as a small business owner, and I’m sure other folks too, is that the decline of the financials and the business starts getting wrapped up in your identity in a way. So it’s like, if the business isn’t doing well financially, then you start. Getting really.


I started getting really depressed because I was like, I’m failing, you know, I’m failing. And then when you as a business owner are not doing well mentally, then how are you supposed to push your business along? So last year it kept declining and I was just like, I couldn’t function. I was calling my mom, you know, sobbing all the time, just like, what do I do? I do not know what to do.


Amanda (16:04.288)

Mm-hmm. Right.


Amanda (16:16.008)



Emma (16:31.862)

Back then, what I didn’t realize is that business pivots. Every three months, your business model kind of has to change and you just have to accept that if you want to be an entrepreneur or a business owner, a small business owner, you have to know that your business is going to change and you need to adapt to it. But I didn’t know that at all. So as the business was declining, I was like, it’s declining. Woe is me.


Amanda (16:37.851)



Amanda (16:50.749)



Emma (17:01.466)

even though all I needed to do was shift the business model and the business would, you know, jump up again. So that was that.


Amanda (17:12.061)



Amanda (17:15.9)

I mean, that is really sound advice. I think often when it comes to business, we sort of take like a set it and forget it kind of approach. Like, well, if it worked three months ago or three years ago, why isn’t it working now? Like it should be. And really like, I mean, listen, I geek out on people. Like what I do as a consultant is I like look at all people’s data and like help them make decisions, you know, about like what to buy, what to sell.


Emma (17:25.695)



Emma (17:42.902)



Amanda (17:44.776)

how much to sell for, that kind of stuff. And the thing that I tell all of them too is that you really need to be taking a critical eye to your business every week, every month, and look at what’s going on because it does change over time. And there are certain cyclical trends that your business will always follow. Maybe you’ll do…


you know, like in standard retail, you do a ton of sales in November and December, but you do very few sales in January, February, you know, like that kind of thing. But, you know, also being aware of those will help you keep your sanity, but you can’t just keep doing the same thing. And I always cite, like, look at Macy’s, look at Sears, look at JCPenney, right? Like, they just were like, when people started shopping online, they were like, oh, that’s a fad. I’m not gonna do that, right? And then they all got to it really late, and like Sears is gone, and.


Emma (18:14.126)



Emma (18:26.274)



Emma (18:33.474)



Amanda (18:38.248)

I don’t know what’s going on with JCPenney and Macy’s has been like struggling and struggling and struggling for so long. And they refuse to switch like how their stores looked or the kind of brands they sold or where they sold and all of that stuff. And like, yeah, that’s when you go out of business, right? Like I think that it’s really, really hard to say like sometimes I gotta make a change. I gotta do things differently. But the thing is like, you don’t have to pull.


Emma (18:50.684)



Emma (18:56.048)



Amanda (19:07.616)

pull what you do next out of the thin air. Already your customers are telling you what you need to do next by what they are or not buying from you, right?


Emma (19:14.766)



Absolutely. And for me, it was my customers wanting to try stuff on in person and not wanting to shop online anymore. Duh Emma.


Amanda (19:24.04)



Amanda (19:29.384)

I mean, I think most people feel that way right now. Like I’m over it. Yeah. Oh, nuts.


Emma (19:32.822)

I feel that way. I don’t want to shop online. I mean, I have to because I’m plus size and there’s nowhere to shop. Although I really only shop from myself slash eBay these days, so.


Amanda (19:43.1)

I mean eBay will never let you down, okay?


Emma (19:45.722)

eBay is my… girl. I was gonna say bitch, but…


Amanda (19:50.968)

You could say that too. We definitely were big fans of eBay in my household. People snooze on eBay, but it’s really the best spot. It’s a lot, but if you know the tricks, which I’m sure you do, it’s like, yeah, it’s an easy game to play if you understand it. I know.


Emma (19:56.592)



Emma (20:04.235)

Oh, I do.


Emma (20:09.186)

A little too easy.


Amanda (20:14.445)

I feel like if they made like a word cloud of conversations that happen in my household, like eBay would be like one of the big fonts because it comes up so often and so many times over the years. So yeah, so I mean, I think, man, I got to tell you, like I am seeing across the board that there is this like big return to shopping in real life. And I’m happy about it. Like.


Emma (20:21.206)



Amanda (20:39.116)

All of these companies that only sell Plus online, they’re idiots. They’re like so stupid, like you said earlier, because like no one wants to shop. People just don’t wanna shop online anymore. It’s disappointing, stuff doesn’t fit. They wanna see it in real life. And honestly, it would be better for the planet if we were shopping IRL too, you know? Way better. So your customers were like, I don’t wanna buy clothes online anymore. So what’d you do?


Emma (20:58.879)

Way better.


Emma (21:06.146)

So, I have to laugh. So I was, my assistant at the time, Grace, I was coming in every day being like, what are we gonna do? I mean, I was about to have to let her go. And I mean, she was only working one to two days a week, by the way. And she was like, Emma, why don’t you just have people come to the studio and shop? And I was like,


Amanda (21:25.588)



Emma (21:36.174)

no one’s gonna want to come to this little shithole because at the time it was like this little space and it was just jam-packed with clothes there was literally nowhere to sit the dressing room was uh one of those screens that you kind of just had to hide behind and it was dusty and anyway so i’m a little bit of a perfectionist i was like no this is never gonna happen


fuck that. She was like, just try it. I’m gonna set up a Calendly. Shout out to Calendly. You can attest to that. Obsessed.


Amanda (22:09.58)

Oh my God, shout out to Calendly. Yeah, everybody. This podcast is not sponsored by Calendly, but honestly, if Calendly came to me and wanted to place ads, I would be like immediately yes, because total life hack for any small business owner. Calendly, anyone, yeah. It’s like basically people just get.


Emma (22:21.982)

Yes, uh-huh. Please.


Yes, or anyone.


Amanda (22:32.436)

to make their appointments to meet with you on their own. And it sends the emails, it sends the Zoom invite if that’s how you’re doing it, whatever you need. And you don’t have to be like, I don’t know what time works for you. What time works for you? What about you? It just like happens. And I don’t, I’m always like, oh, I’m pretty sure Calendly saves me time, which I think it does, but more importantly, I feel like it saves me like brain, brain time, because scheduling is like the bane of my existence. I hate it so much.


Emma (22:45.339)

Yeah, it’s the best.


Emma (22:50.082)

Mm-hmm. It does.


Emma (22:59.502)



Same, very much same. But so she set up the Calendly and that was in April of this year. And we had 30 appointments in April. And then in May, the New York Times reached out to me and said, we heard about your shopping appointments. We want to write an article about them. Yeah.


Amanda (23:02.516)

same. Yeah.


Emma (23:31.126)

And so they wrote the article and it got printed, which was so cool. And then they actually put money behind the article and sponsored it. And so Berries was just, it was just blowing up. And so was our Calendly. So we had so many appointments and the business turned around. And the thing is, is that now that


Amanda (23:52.304)



Emma (24:00.994)

You know, I like, now that the business is quote unquote working better, I am so, I am very conscious of the fact that it’s not always going to work like this and that I might have to change it again in a few months time. But now I’m not.


Amanda (24:09.157)



Amanda (24:23.016)



Emma (24:27.95)

upset about that. I’m just like, okay, this is gonna happen and I’m ready for it.


Emma (24:37.851)

Uh, am I ready for it? I’m a little bit, I’m a little bit more prepared than I was.


Amanda (24:39.872)

You’ll be ready for it. I think you are because yeah, you’ve already been through this and you’ve seen how it has to adapt all the time, you know? And I think that’s the biggest miss. I mean, I would say the other miss that a lot of businesses suffer is that they are not managing their money very well. But I mean, I feel like you are doing that because you are still in business, you know?


Emma (25:01.87)



Amanda (25:07.848)

But definitely, I mean, I’m sure, we’re both on social media, right? We’re up on the scene. We are seeing, especially I’m trying, I’ve decided I think I’m not gonna use threads anymore because I think it made my shingles come back from doom scrolling and being stressed. I had a feeling it was gonna be Twitter, which is a place I avoid because it’s really ugly over there. And last year they canceled.


Emma (25:14.196)



Emma (25:23.506)

Oh my god, I don’t even… I don’t think I have a thread.


Emma (25:33.747)

Oh yeah.


Amanda (25:34.152)

They canceled someone because she made chili for her neighbor. This is not my scene. And yeah, it was ridiculous. This person, actually I think their pronouns, maybe they’re them, I can’t remember, but they made chili for their new neighbors. And people just went off on Twitter about how messed up it is to make food for other people, and it’s ableist and all this other stuff. I was like, wow, I think y’all need to like.


Emma (25:39.054)



Emma (26:00.11)



Amanda (26:02.484)

take a deep breath. So anyway, I avoid Twitter and threads has turned into that same sort of echo chamber of, I don’t know, despair. And especially on threads, people, it’s just one post after another. It’s like, my small business is really struggling, all small businesses are really struggling, blah, like over and over again. And I often, when I’m coaching people, I say to them, the thing you shouldn’t do when things are going poorly is,


Emma (26:04.185)



Amanda (26:31.264)

like spiral, let yourself spiral, which I knew was really, really hard. It’s really, really hard, right? I mean, and I say like, you shouldn’t let yourself spiral when I will spiral. I’ll probably spiral later today about how I spent too much time looking at threads again or something. But I, like what you really need to do is do what you did and like take a step back and be like, what is it that I’m missing? What is it that my customers want? What is it that I can do next? And you’re really lucky that you had like an awesome assistant who like.


Emma (26:35.794)

Yeah, real hard.


Emma (26:45.621)



Amanda (27:00.932)

forced you because that’s great. But like if you don’t have an assistant to help you, it’s like, talk to your close friends, talk to other business owners, like talk to someone you trust and just be like, what helped me problem solve this? I think, you know, when I’m working for, I guess here’s the thing, big evil corporations or, and, or like idiotic corporations like Macy’s or Target or what have you, they stay in business when business is bad because they’re like, what are we going to do next? Like someone’s.


Emma (27:03.549)

is the best.


Amanda (27:30.036)

taking a critical eye and trying to make some decisions, even if they’re not right, instead of everybody just running around the office weeping with despair. I mean, I’ve worked in that for that company too, but where everybody was spiraling constantly. But it’s like, you gotta, if you wanna keep going, you gotta always be thinking about what’s next and looking at what’s going on and making a plan based off of it rather than sort of giving it into your fear. But I also feel like being a small business owner, it’s like…


Emma (27:30.062)



Amanda (27:58.332)

You have to be really brave.


Emma (28:01.486)

You do.


Amanda (28:02.176)

It’s really scary, right? And it’s really hard and you have to work all the time.


Emma (28:07.654)

Yeah, it’s really, really hard. It’s way harder than working at the Innocence Project. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I think another thing when I quit, I didn’t realize how hard it was gonna be. I didn’t know that I was gonna have to take up a second job to just keep the business going. And it’s…


I mean, it’s so hard. And I just give so many props to small business owners for how hard it is.


Amanda (28:42.524)

Mm-hmm. It’s really hard. It’s not for everyone.


Emma (28:47.962)

No, it’s not. And sometimes I’m still like, is this for me? But I don’t think I can do anything else now.


Amanda (28:55.032)

Exactly, exactly. When I think like we are, most of the small business owners in my social circle, they kind of like, they have a lot of imposter syndrome, which I deal with too. I think if you don’t have imposter syndrome, I don’t even know, what’s your life like? Like tell me, I wanna know the secrets, right? Where it’s like you can’t accept when things are going well because, right? Yeah, I’m always like, expect.


Emma (29:07.682)

I’m bored. Yeah.


There you go!


Emma (29:19.938)

Oh, yeah, that’s me. Yeah. That is me to a T.


Amanda (29:22.684)

the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it’s not, right? Yeah. It’s hard and then you have to constantly negotiate with yourself to be like, hey, stop being like that. Stop being so negative. Stop worrying. Just do the work. Push that aside and focus. I don’t know. That’s how it is for me often.


Emma (29:50.798)



Amanda (29:51.732)

So, okay, so now you have like a store and an online business. Like, how do you, well, yeah, so tell me, cause like I, when people, I will just start this by saying, I don’t know how anyone sells vintage or like upcycle style, right, online. Yeah, it’s so hard. Do you wanna explain why to everyone? Yeah.


Emma (29:56.274)

Mm-hmm. Kind of.


Emma (30:09.055)



Listen, please let me explain.


Emma (30:19.79)

So let’s talk about selling one shirt online, alright? Okay, so let’s say I sell one vintage shirt for $40 online. That $40 is covering, one, how long it took me to drive to go and get that, the gas money, then the time it took for me to source it, the time it takes for me to take it back and inventory it, then the time it takes for me to clean it or steam it or both.


Amanda (30:36.996)

Uh huh.


Emma (30:49.022)

then the time it takes for me to measure it, then the time it takes for me to photograph, to upload it, and then to market it to see if it sells, and most of the time it doesn’t even sell online, right? So that’s what I learned about selling vintage online. So I actually, this in the past few months as business in person has been doing well, I have kind of


Emma (31:20.002)

I feel like I am ignoring, in a sense, the people who have supported me all these years when I didn’t have an in-person shop, but at the same time, it’s just right now, it doesn’t feel financially viable for me to put stuff online. I do put some stuff online, don’t get me wrong, but it can’t be the only way for me to generate income.


and I don’t even put vintage online, it’s really just my more expensive pieces, or if I do end up putting vintage online it would be like my collector’s Nicole Miller shirts or like my collection of Michael Simon sweaters. Like the more expensive pieces because otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.


Amanda (32:08.896)

Right, right, because you did all that work and as soon as it sells, it’s gone. Whereas if you were like the Gap or something, you would do all that work and there’d be like a thousand units to sell.


Emma (32:20.738)

exactly like one picture only goes so far so I’m always you know one picture for a pair of gap jeans exactly sells a thousand units one picture for my pair of vintage denim sells one unit and then that picture is done and another thing I used to do is spend money on photo shoots because I was a well was am a perfectionist and wanted the brand to look a type of way and to look this way and


This year I was like, why am I spending all this money on photo shoots? Money that I don’t even really have, by the way, you know, to sell one single item for $50. You know what I mean?


Amanda (32:55.421)



Amanda (33:04.86)

Right, right. I mean, that’s a hard one. I was talking with my friend Janelle recently and she was saying, I think a lot of people, really awesome creative people who started small businesses in 2020 for a variety of reasons, right? Now, in 2023, they’re like, oh man, I am really learning a lot of hard lessons about things that I need to sort of get over or give up if I’m gonna be able to continue. And that’s one of them, for sure.


Emma (33:26.883)



Emma (33:33.218)

Yep. Yeah, I mean, especially as a small, sustainable business, you know, sometimes I compare my business to my friend’s business, who she does have more financial resources than me. And she is selling multiples of products. And I’m like, oh, her imagery is just so beautiful. And why is her graphic design so amazing? And she’ll be like, Emma, what?


Amanda (33:54.772)



Emma (34:02.942)

It’s because I have money and that’s about it. Like I have money and you don’t have the same type of money. Like just give it up, you know, focus your efforts on something else. There was one more thing I was gonna say and now I’m losing my train of thought. Oh, I guess too with selling vintage, especially for plus size folks, you know, for straight size folks.


Amanda (34:11.986)



Emma (34:30.97)

you can kind of just take a picture on a hanger and people will sell it and nine, not nine times out of ten, but it’s more likely to fit a straight-sized person if you just see it on a hanger. Whereas on plus size folks, for me it’s really important to show the garments on a body because you really just don’t know. So you know that’s another expense and consideration when uploading or selling vintage or upcycle vintage online.


Amanda (34:49.353)



Amanda (35:00.68)

Yeah, I mean, it is true though. Like anytime, every time I’ve worked somewhere and we’ve even said just like, could we just shoot stuff on a mannequin? Not like a funny plastic mannequin with like a face and a wig, but like a dress form or like on a hanger or something. It’s like, if when we AB test it on a model, the sales, it’s a significant change, but it’s like so much money, you know? It’s so much money. And then just to be able to,


Emma (35:12.49)



Emma (35:23.854)





Amanda (35:30.408)

only able to sell one thing. I mean, that’s like why, I mean, I don’t know if you ever look on ThredUP. I don’t very often because I can’t handle it. It’s horrible. And it’s because they’re trying to say, oh, we are gonna do a one-of-one business and shoot everything on a form. And it’s like, guys, it’s not going very well. Yes, that’s why I give up. That’s why I always give up on ThredUP because I am like, nothing is, it’s giving me the weirdest search results.


Emma (35:36.73)

I do, but it’s horrible.


Emma (35:50.082)

They need to fix their search engine as well.


Emma (35:59.11)

It’s really a bizarre website. Thread up if you hear this. Hire Amanda to consult for you.


Amanda (36:07.596)

Yeah, let me fix your website. Actually, I don’t even know where I would begin there. Whew, I get so many feelings. Every once in a while I’ll be like, you know, I haven’t looked at Thread Up for a while. It’ll be interesting to see what’s on there. And within five minutes I’m like, no, I’m gonna go back to eBay now. Okay, so let’s talk about, because I would say now, listen, you’ve been doing this for a few years and you’ve been doing it full time for a few years and you’ve been through some shit. What?


Emma (36:11.699)

I know.


Emma (36:22.627)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Amanda (36:36.032)

What kind of advice would you give? Because I think there are a lot of people who want to hear this advice right now. What kind of advice would you give for small business owners who feel like they are stuck, like they don’t know where their money is going, or they feel like they’re failing, or they’re like, oh, the algorithm hates me, or what have you? What advice would you give them? Because I’m sure you’ve had, well, I know that you’ve had moments like that.


Emma (36:59.395)

Yeah, I’ve had so many moments and I think what I would tell someone would vary based on what their business is. But number one.


You need to keep track of your finances and where your money is going. You need to know how much money is going out and how much money is going in. Um, that is really important. It’s also really helpful for taxes so that you’re not spending weeks next year. In April at the very last minute, trying to follow your taxes.


Amanda (37:16.121)



Amanda (37:35.396)

Mm hmm. Yeah, been there. Definitely been there.


Emma (37:43.756)

But I think you said it earlier, it’s asking what does the customer want? Which is a tricky question because for example, my customers a few weeks ago were like, we really want this dead stock lace cardigan. So I ordered 20 of them to sell and I put them back online and of course I’ve sold three. So it’s like, okay. I know.


Amanda (37:48.607)



Amanda (38:07.637)



Emma (38:10.63)

Maybe that’s not the right advice because…


Amanda (38:11.784)

You know, I, okay, so here are my thoughts on that, because it’s a tough one, right? When I worked at ModClock, we have this thing called Be the Buyer. And basically, like, we would go to market and we’d pick like half a dozen styles, and we’d put them on the website and we’d be like, vote for them. Like, for this 24-hour period, vote for the one that you like most and we’ll buy it, right? And so you would think, okay, well, it should be a sure thing, like whatever the people bought.


Emma (38:17.198)



Emma (38:35.438)



Amanda (38:40.464)

or voted for, they’re going to come and buy. And it would be like, no, like, I think everybody knows this by now, but if you’re participating in something like that, I want to assure you that the company has your data, right? And knows who you are. So we could easily look back and be like, 1% of people who voted for that thing actually bought it. And that’s like, I mean, that was bad for us, right? We were like, now we got to put it on sale, but like, you know, for a small business, that’s even worse. And so it is like, I mean, I’ve…


Emma (38:52.359)



Emma (38:59.106)



Amanda (39:09.2)

I’ve had conversations like at various different companies where we’ve been like, we did a survey and people said they wanted this and then we buy it and they aren’t interested or we offer it and they don’t care. There’s a lot of like, I don’t know, thought out there, kind of like people discussing it, kind of like trying to investigate it further, just like, why are people sometimes kind of dishonest in surveys? Right?


Emma (39:33.931)

Right! Who’s that helping here?


Amanda (39:37.832)

I know, I know, but it’s true. Like even at my last job, they were like, cause you know, it’s like, it’s a tough time to be in retail, it really is. I think I like, there are people who are doing really well and the people who are like people who are, you know, listening to their customers and being really smart and passionate and innovative. And every other retailer out there who is like not doing that is like, oh, things are bad. And so my last job, things were bad. And they were like, we’re gonna do a survey.


of customers and see what they want. And every customer was like, I love this place. It’s the best store ever, blah, blah. And we were like, okay, well then, why aren’t they buying anything? You know, and so it’s like, that’s really hard, but I usually like what I look, when I’m coaching people on like what they should, how to understand what your customer wants is like, look at what’s selling, right? And lean into that. So if you’re selling a lot of button-ups, it gets more button-ups.


Emma (40:17.398)



Emma (40:30.147)

Mm-hmm. Yep.


Amanda (40:33.58)

You know, and like you, that’s why you need to keep track of what you sell and look at it. I am, you know, like not gonna brag. My friends do call me the Google doctor because I’m so into spreadsheets. But if your business doesn’t have half a dozen spreadsheets going on, you need to, you need to get on it. Seriously.


Emma (40:38.355)



Emma (40:45.087)

Mm-hmm. Wow, I’m not.


Emma (40:53.794)

I know, I do have half a dozen spreadsheets, but it’s a matter of whether or not I use them. But I do have Shopify reporting, which is great. Yes.


Amanda (40:59.72)

Ha ha!


Amanda (41:03.188)

Good, yes, that’s really good. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so I think that is often the more true version of what your customer wants in a weird way. I don’t know why. Why do people lie on surveys?


Emma (41:19.662)

They’re bored. I don’t know. This is the only explanation.


Amanda (41:20.136)



Maybe, maybe. I don’t know. It’s so weird. It’s not like, it’s not with malice. It’s just like you get caught up in the moment or something. I’m not sure. But yeah, yeah. I think like you gotta, you gotta like be listening to them and keep, and keep like powering through it and innovating based on that. But like, what else would you say? Like if you were, if you could go back and tell yourself like three years ago, here’s some advice that like will really help you get through the next three years.


Emma (41:31.638)



Amanda (41:52.38)

What would you tell yourself?


Emma (41:58.414)

I would tell myself that it’s not going to be easy. And to talk about the challenges with fellow small business owners, that’s been the most important thing for me is having a small community to text and call and vent and cry. And I think for me, what


Amanda (42:13.914)



Emma (42:26.83)

really stuck with me is my friend who runs a big business was the one to tell me, hey Emma, our business three months from now is going to look totally different than it does right now. And I was like, oh shit, like that makes total sense. And of course, when my mom told me that I, it went one in one ear and out the other, because she’s my mom. But when


Amanda (42:41.662)



Amanda (42:51.877)

Yeah. Right.


Emma (42:56.122)

my friend who runs this clothing business told me that. I was like, oh, and that’s why I was like, wait, I’m not failing. I just have to shift. So yeah, I think just anticipating change and then looking at the numbers obviously and keeping track of everything. And


Amanda (43:20.02)



Emma (43:24.802)

holding community, being in touch with what your customer wants. And that’s not even just specifically, but like, I know my customers love mesh. So I’m going to figure out how to get mesh for my customers in different forms. You know, maybe not this one specific mesh dress or whatever, but like, okay. See through as in how can I get this to them? Um, and also just looking at the market too, like


Amanda (43:39.973)



Emma (43:54.73)

What are other… what is popular and what is… I don’t know, for me, in a way, it’s easier because it’s like, okay, what do plus-size folks want? What do I want as a size 18 plus-size person? What do I want that…


Amanda (44:12.264)



Emma (44:15.074)

is not being offered to me and then what I do is I say, okay, I want this now, how can I go about getting this for berries? Because if I want it, then I know other people must want it too. So in a way I do have that advantage because we don’t have a lot of stuff offered to us.


Amanda (44:25.917)



Amanda (44:33.04)

It’s true. And especially stuff that is cool and artful. I think every time I see a post of yours or browse through your website, it’s like, yeah, you’re selling clothes and accessories, and a lot of them are upcycled. But more importantly, what you’re selling is clothing that really brings that creativity and that artistry.


Emma (44:38.074)

Mm-hmm. Yes.


Amanda (44:58.9)

back to clothing, you know? And it’s like something I think about all the time is that like the fashion was an art and it became an industry and a commodity. And you know, we, that’s, I feel like that’s one of the reasons we over consume it so much because it never really feels genuine when we put it on our bodies. And so you’re bringing that back, like beyond even the fact that you are dressing fat people when very few other companies will, right? Beyond that, you’re also bringing


Emma (45:01.537)



Amanda (45:28.644)

art back into clothing. And so your customers are like, they’re literally like never gonna find it anywhere else. Like it’s just, it’s two important things that are missing in one place. It’s like a dream, you know?


Emma (45:46.578)

And now I know that. And a few months ago, I could not sit here and say to you, Amanda, I know that what I’m doing is important. I didn’t know that. And now, even though I had 8,000 people, Emma, you’ve changed my life. Emma, like I didn’t feel confident until I found berries. People would say that to me all the time, once a day, and I didn’t get it. And I feel like now I’m like, okay, what I’m doing is important.


what I’m doing is the only place in the world, in the entire world offering what I’m offering. And that’s important. And for as long as my mental health can take it, I gotta keep doing it.


Amanda (46:24.852)



Amanda (46:31.268)

Yeah, I mean, obviously not at the expense of your mental health, but I mean, that brings me to like, okay, so, you know, I’m sure, I mean, I’m always like, listen, we all need to be like prioritizing collaboration over competition, but the reality is that like, we all have a little like grain of competitive spirit within us, some a lot more than others. Those people scare me and I usually try to hide from them, but.


Emma (46:33.301)



Emma (46:47.018)



Emma (46:57.142)



Amanda (46:57.34)

You know, like people probably look at you on social and they’re like, oh my God, like that bitch. She is like killing it and it’s probably like really easy and like blah, blah. And of course I know that not every day is like, you’re not like on your yacht counting your cash right now and being like, oh, my life is so fabulous, right? So, right, so like, let’s talk about.


Emma (47:04.319)

I know, I know, I hate that.


Emma (47:22.568)

even a little bit.


Amanda (47:25.68)

some of the hard parts of owning a small business that maybe people wouldn’t guess.


Emma (47:34.258)

Oh my goodness. Where do I start?


Amanda (47:38.332)



Emma (47:41.686)

Um, I mean, obviously stability, financially, mentally, even just like a daily routine that doesn’t exist every single day for me is different. I guess that is also because I do wardrobe styling so that adds another layer into it. It’s like another job that I have, I guess. So stability, yeah, stability is that doesn’t exist in my world and I hate that.


Amanda (47:46.298)



Emma (48:11.534)

Definitely working on that with my therapist. I am also working on boundaries. As a small business owner, you gotta set boundaries. I fucking suck at setting boundaries, but you got to set boundaries or else you are gonna be unhappy. Your business isn’t… I mean, I would go so far as to say like your business won’t grow.


Amanda (48:19.832)

Ah, you do.


Emma (48:39.882)

You have to have difficult conversations. You have to plan for the future. All those things for me are scary, bad, I don’t know. I don’t know.


Amanda (48:42.628)



Amanda (48:49.992)

Yep. I mean, it’s like, man, the boundaries thing. I think many of us learn boundaries when things go awry, right? I always am talking to people about return policies, for example, customer service policies in general. And I’m like, yeah, my friends who start a business, the first time I see them go live, there’s three things on their customer service page or their returns policy.


Emma (48:56.232)



Emma (49:02.633)



Amanda (49:18.096)

And like a year later, there’s like 10 things. And then a year after that, there’s 20 things. And it’s because you, like customer service policies are boundaries. Guess what, everyone, they are. It’s so true, right? And so you’re like, learn, you only learn the boundaries when things go sideways. And like, I wish that we were taught those as children because…


Emma (49:19.67)



Emma (49:27.886)

That’s so funny. It’s so true. Yep.


Emma (49:36.738)



Amanda (49:43.588)

Even just in my own life, I’m like, oh, I sure learned that one the hard way, like with that person, you know, I shouldn’t have let them do that. And then it led to this and that and that and that. And, you know, in business, it’s even bigger because we’re talking about like your future, you know? Yeah, yeah, definitely. The boundaries. Okay, so I feel like you must work like.


Emma (50:00.358)

Exactly. Yes.


Emma (50:05.962)

The boundaries.


Amanda (50:09.644)

all the time right now. So how do you try to keep it balanced and not just totally lose your inspiration, your motivation?


Emma (50:20.682)

Yeah, that’s also something I’m working on right now. I feel a little bit like a phony answering this question because I currently do work about seven days a week, especially because I also do wardrobe styling, so that adds a few extra days. Yeah, and honestly,


Amanda (50:22.397)

Ha ha!


Amanda (50:35.512)

Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah, same here. I cannot, do not ask me for advice on work-life balance. I would feel like a monster. Ha ha ha.


Emma (50:48.326)

The times that I am most creative are when I am rested and having space away from berries. But at this point in time, I’m like berries has so much momentum. I gotta keep going. I gotta keep going. And then in January after it, after the holidays, I’ll rest. But


Amanda (50:52.745)



Emma (51:08.178)

So right now I feel like I can’t honestly answer this question because I’m kind of failing at work life balance, but I think it’s so important and I also think that having a routine is so important because for me it’s like all day I’m getting, I get you know a text I would say


Amanda (51:13.92)



Amanda (51:19.729)

It is.


Emma (51:33.242)

a couple times an hour either asking me for something or asking me something for business or whatever it may be business related. And my DMs, I love that you have the please don’t DM please email because my DMs are crazy even though I do sometimes invite people in there and I’m like DM to buy. But um.


Amanda (51:36.105)



Amanda (51:55.936)

I’ll tell you though, speaking of boundaries, so if none of you have ever DMed me, you don’t know this, but I’m basically like, I don’t do business by DMs. Like you have to email me because my life is chaotic, right? I’ve got clients, I’ve got close horse, I have a wife, and I would say only 10% of people tops actually listen to that, so I know, but I’m trying, I’m trying. Yeah.


Emma (52:06.123)



Emma (52:17.591)

Dang it! Okay.


Amanda (52:22.62)

But I do think that’s a boundary that I’m really trying to enforce because I have learned that the hard way where someone was like, oh, multiple people are like, I’m trying to be on the podcast or do something. And then I’m DMing you, but then later I’m emailing you and I’m like, I can’t find the thread. I don’t know where we were talking, where they, you know, just, like that kind of, it’s like scheduling. It’s one of those things that just pushes a button in my brain where it shuts me down, kind of. Look, I can’t explain it. It’s too much.


Emma (52:22.815)



Emma (52:34.651)



Emma (52:41.66)



Emma (52:53.682)

It’s too much, but that’s, it’s, I feel like it’s just brain overload every single day. And that’s why I feel like a routine is so important to boundaries. So important, blah, blah. But yeah, I don’t know, taking space and like on the days that you do take a day off, you know, sometimes I’ll delete Instagram from my phone. So I don’t even have the opportunity to go on it because I know I’ll check berries.


Amanda (52:58.999)



Amanda (53:14.777)



Amanda (53:22.56)

That’s a good idea. It is your baby. I mean, it’s hard. It’s hard when you care so much about what you do, but you also need to protect yourself because you’re the one doing this work. And Berries doesn’t exist without you. That’s hard. Yeah, I just wanted to say, I also like, give yourself a routine, a schedule, whatever it takes. Being your own boss is really hard.


Emma (53:23.338)

I don’t know, berries is my baby, I just can’t not. Ha ha ha.


Emma (53:33.337)



Emma (53:38.653)





Amanda (53:51.936)

hard because you can just be like, well, I’m the boss and like meander over to the next thing. And all the decisions have to come from you. So, you know, I worked in a corporate structure my entire career where like, I didn’t dictate any of the routines, right? They were just handed to me and I lived in them. And so then to be like working for myself, I think what has benefited me is that my husband also works for himself. So we like, I was like, I’m going to get us in routines.


Emma (53:54.004)



Emma (53:59.282)





Emma (54:11.32)



Amanda (54:20.616)

Like, we’re going to eat lunch. We’re going to do this. Like, we’re going to stop working at this time. And like, you know, it’s hard. It’s hard, though. Because sometimes I’m like, oh, just two more hours. Just two more hours, you know? Yeah.


Emma (54:24.142)



Emma (54:31.262)

I know, I know, that’s, I like that though, I should try that.


Amanda (54:36.324)

It was hard at first and then it felt pretty good. Like now I’m like, oh, it’s lunchtime, I gotta get up, gotta get up from my desk, like go do something else. I don’t always stick to it, but I try. I guess I’m an okay boss to myself and not the best.


Emma (54:44.619)



Emma (54:54.223)

It’s an always, you know, always room for improvement.


Amanda (54:57.172)

So I thought we could, okay, wait, actually, before we move on, I know you have one other piece of advice which you have not shared that I know you’re really passionate about. Okay, tell us, tell us. It’s probably not what any of you are gonna expect. I feel like we should have a drum roll. Okay, tell us.


Emma (55:06.666)

Oh, I’m so passionate about this piece of advice.


Emma (55:14.886)

Yeah, we can add it in. Okay. So my biggest piece of advice to all small business owners out there, especially one selling stuff online, you need to get a label maker and you need to get either a GoShipo,, PirateShip, any of those accounts because too many times I’ll have collaborators ship stuff to me and I’ll look at the postage on the…


Amanda (55:40.643)



Emma (55:42.598)

on the thing and I’m like you did not just pay $85 for shipping this package. Like this would have been $10 on!


Amanda (55:47.904)

It makes my stomach hurt hearing that, yeah.


Amanda (55:54.576)

Once again, not sponsored by, but the real, you, yeah, like shipping is one of those things when people are like, I don’t know where all my money is. I like do all these sales, they don’t have any money left. I’m like, let’s look at your shipping because it’s way more expensive.


Emma (55:58.343)

No, but like, come on!


Emma (56:09.546)

Yep. And don’t offer free shipping. If people want it, then they’ll buy it regardless of the shipping. But you are paying for the shipping. I’m paying for the shipping. I used to offer free shipping over 200 bucks. And my again, that business owner, big business clothing owner friend, she was like, do not offer free shipping. Like, if people want it, they’ll buy it and you’re losing that money when you offer it. So don’t offer it.


Amanda (56:14.693)



Amanda (56:35.384)

Exactly. I am working right now on a real, I’m conceptualizing it by the time this episode comes out, it’ll be out in the world, talking about how actually, this is a pretty lofty one, but how free shipping really exacerbates economic inequality because for all of these reasons, right? It takes money out of the pockets of small business owners, all these big companies that thrive and exist solely because of free shipping like Amazon.


Emma (56:52.672)



Amanda (57:03.38)

They do a lot of things to make that shipping free for customers that take money out of the pockets of their employees and truck drivers and all kinds of other people in between. So yeah, charge for shipping. Seriously, we all need to get over it. I think in 2024, we’re gonna see a lot more companies charging us for shipping anyway, so get comfortable with it.


Emma (57:07.807)



Emma (57:17.966)



Emma (57:23.13)

Yeah, sorry customers, but I gotta do what I gotta do. I’m not evil though, I promise.


Amanda (57:27.176)

You gotta do it.


Amanda (57:32.028)

And by the way, if you’re all like, why are you all talking about business so much? It was really because Emma was like, oh, I wanna do like an audio essay, but I actually have like so much to say, it’s like longer than that. So I was like, just come on here and we’ll like talk about it. And so that’s why I’m like, we’re really talking about small business because I think it’s really important. And I think a lot of people in our community would look to you Emma and say like, wow, like Emma is an inspiration to me.


Like I wanna be Emma when I grow up, or I want my business to be as like successful and thriving as yours. So that’s why I’m like asking you all these biz questions. But I did want to, like we’re coming down the home stretch. I just wanna ask you like, you know, and maybe you don’t have an answer here, but like if you could tell like the fashion industry, like one or two pieces of advice or like.


Emma (58:02.583)



Emma (58:09.934)

Hell yeah.


Amanda (58:25.02)

things that they need to fix ASAP, like what they’re getting wrong, like what would you say?


Emma (58:31.23)

I would say, you know fashion brands, I heard y’all love money. That’s true, right?


Amanda (58:38.684)

Oh my god, I know they do they love money. They’ll like do anything to make more money. Yeah


Emma (58:42.838)

They love money!


So, to those brands that are like, oh, we can’t fix our sizing because of money. If you just invest the money upfront, it’ll come back tenfold. And I can say that because my collaborations are now the most popular thing that I’m selling and I continually have to reorder from the small businesses that I work with.


Amanda (58:53.097)



Amanda (58:58.468)

At least, at least. Yeah.


Emma (59:13.726)

And you just have to do the work and you need to hire a consultant and like not do it just to, you know, oh, I’m expanding my sizing, but I’m not actually doing the work to do it. Just put in the work, just do it once, like with the small businesses that I collaborate with. We do the work to fit the garment on a model. And then once that’s done, I can continually reorder it. It’s not like there has to be any more work. So


Amanda (59:37.699)



Emma (59:43.234)

I don’t know, I feel like it’s honestly not that hard. Just try, just a little bit. Fat people are here and we got money to spend and we wanna look just as cool as everyone else. So I feel like it just, but it does have to come from a place of compassion and care because if you don’t have compassion and care, then it’s not gonna get done right. And we’re gonna have brands continue to expand their sizing.


Amanda (01:00:05.821)



Emma (01:00:11.986)

and then it’s not gonna work because they don’t put money into the marketing because plus size people won’t even know they have the clothes to begin with.


Amanda (01:00:17.56)

Uh, this is like, this is where all these brands go wrong. When they’re like, we tried it and it didn’t work. I’m like, you literally never even shot it on a plus size mod. I know, like you, of course the customers didn’t know you had it. And the other thing is like, you know, I think, like, I don’t know, like for example, Shein gets a real big pass. Like there’s this, I, I.


Emma (01:00:24.847)



Emma (01:00:29.314)

No! I’m a plus-size person!


Amanda (01:00:44.08)

try to not even read these posts because once again, I’ve got shingles, they need to go away. I can’t get riled up. I gotta stay calm. Diaprata did a post this week. It was like some, something, I don’t know. It was like about how that one company like ShopFestera or whatever they’re called, isn’t accepting fast fashion on their resale platform. And they’re like kind of a luxury platform anyway. So yeah, no brainer. But people were in the comments, losing their shit over like, well, you know what? I’ll be shopping at Shein until like other.


Emma (01:00:52.942)

I know.


Emma (01:01:01.097)



Emma (01:01:07.547)



Amanda (01:01:12.704)

companies extend their sizing and I’m like, yo, I get it. Buy your clothes that make you feel good wherever you need to get them, like fine. But I think that there’s this like a little bit of like a, well, she and, you know, and Forever 21 and Fashion Nova, like they care about us. And I’m like, y’all, they’re not making you good clothes. They don’t fit right, you know? They’re low quality. Like everyone deserves better than that. And that, you know, right? And I just think.


Emma (01:01:20.834)



Emma (01:01:27.815)

I can’t.


Emma (01:01:32.882)



Emma (01:01:39.906)

So much better.


Amanda (01:01:40.804)

All of these companies right now who are like, oh, we carry all the sizes. I’m like, you really don’t for one and you don’t do a good job of it. And it’s not coming from a place of care, I guess is what I’m saying, right? It’s coming from a place of like, cha-ching.


Emma (01:01:52.918)



Emma (01:01:57.146)

Yep, exactly. I mean, and it’s funny because I did say, you know, you guys want money? Well, do this. But if you want the money, then you got to do it with care. So yes, yes.


Amanda (01:02:06.076)

And if you want the money to keep coming, right? Because often, one of these brands will be like, oh, we extended sizing. And people go buy it once and return it all. And they’re like, never again, right? Because it sucked. And I will say, like, when I, you know, mod cloth has changed a lot. It’s been sold multiple times. And it doesn’t have the same mission anymore. But when I was there, our big thing was like, we’re going to make clothes for everyone. You know, that likes the mod cloth aesthetic, right? And.


Emma (01:02:19.726)



Emma (01:02:33.629)



Amanda (01:02:34.94)

We worked so hard, like we were out there pushing factories and vendors and brands on extended sizing when no one else was. And it was certainly hard, but all of those people who chose to opt in and work with us on that, they made so much money. And really that was like what was, that was where ModCloth was growing. Like the rest of the business had plateaued a long time before that, but it was the fact that we were,


Emma (01:02:54.932)



Amanda (01:03:03.168)

offering all these sizes and cute, fun stuff that was keeping, that was what was keeping it going. Yeah, it was amazing, right? And even like, we went through a big change while I was there, like previously we had a team that only, all they did was buy the plus size part of the collection and they were based in San Francisco and they were like total bitches. And they were kind of like, no, bigger people don’t, they don’t want sleeveless things. They don’t want sheer things. They don’t want body com things. And I was like,


Emma (01:03:03.689)



Emma (01:03:10.098)

I remember. I used to shop on there. Yeah.


Amanda (01:03:32.368)

What are you, we’re talking about, we’re talking like a different species of people here, right? So at one point they were like, okay, we’re getting rid of the plus size team and just like, if you’re a buyer for this category, you buy it in all sizes. And that was when we were able to like get really cooking because it was like, okay, we’re gonna do going out clothes, we’re gonna do party clothes, we’re gonna do festival stuff, we’re gonna do sexy shit, you know, we’re gonna do work stuff, we’re gonna do it all that we already do and just offer it in all the sizes. And it was just, it was amazing.


Emma (01:03:38.664)

Right? I know.


Amanda (01:04:02.184)

It was so incredible. I know that they don’t do that anymore. It makes me really sad, but like every time I start working with a new company and they’re kind of being weird about sizing, I’m like, let me tell you a story about how you can make so much money. Exactly. Well, Emma, it was so nice to talk to you today.


Emma (01:04:15.619)

Mm-hmm. Exactly.


Emma (01:04:25.258)

Likewise, you are one of my favorite podcasts and I’m obsessed with your Instagram, so this has been a dream come true. Whoa.


Amanda (01:04:26.259)

Thank you.


Wow, we both had our dreams come true at the same time.


Thanks again to Emma for spending some time with me.  I can’t wait to go up to NYC to visit her and see her shop when I’m settled in Pennsylvania!  Emma sent me a little last note that she wants me to tell you (more business advice).  Here it is:


as a small business owner, you have to do EVERYTHING — photography, accounting, graphic design, buying, social media, etc. But that doesn’t mean you have to be GOOD at everything! I was so hard on myself for so long because I’m not good at certain aspects of the business; but, for me, realizing that I don’t have to be the best at everything and letting that idea go made things a little easier.


Emma is so right! One of the things I’ve been doing with a lot of my clients recently is saying “hey, what are you bad at doing? Or doing only halfway because you are busy? Let’s figure out how you can afford to outsource that.” TBH it’s almost alway social media, but sometimes it’s accounting or customer service.  We work together to “find” the money to do it by tweaking the sales plan and the budget.  And it always has some kind of good net result.  Like, more new customers thanks to better/more consistent social media content.  Less stress at tax time (and maybe even owing less). Happier customers who return to shop again. Etc.


Also just cut yourself a break.  Like, with Clotheshorse, there is no money to hire someone to help.  My hope is that maybe 2024 is the year that changes that. The podcast has never had more than 100 supporters on Patreon at one time.  And I think two people have signed up for the Apple Premium Subscription.  So there is no money to find to pay someone to help with things.  And that has been a challenge sometimes because it means I’m doing everything.  I’m super hard on myself, always trying to do the best job I can…and getting really upset with myself when I mess it up, even in a minor way.  I’m sure many of you are like “oh yeah, that’s me, too.” You know, never forgetting something embarrassing you said 10 years ago, but totally blanking on what you did on your birthday last year.  


I specifically remember in 2021, being like “okay, I’m going to ramp up the quality of the social media content for Clotheshorse.” I specifically felt very strongly that I did not want to show fashion photography on my feed anymore, because there just weren’t a diverse range of bodies and people.  It felt othering. And it wasn’t what I wanted Clotheshorse to be.  So I spent a lot of time learning photoshop.  I bought a scanner so I could use more found images.  I learned how to do more stuff in Figma.  I read a lot about fonts and color.  I bought fonts!  And I worked really hard to learn how to create more polished, interesting stuff.


And I kinda did all of this “on the job,” literally learning these skills while creating content for Clotheshorse. I would get really excited about sharing a post, I would think it looked so good…and then there was this person who would show up every time to call out that the font or color wasn’t accessible enough.  I know that they were being helpful, that they were raising awareness (and really teaching me a lot). But I always felt so depressed after reading their comments.  Like I was a failure, a bad ableist person.  


But really I just wasn’t perfect.  And that’s okay.  I learned from messing things up.  I read even more about making content more accessible.  I changed up what I did and how I did it.  I moved away from doing IG Lives because they aren’t captioned while they are happening. Over time, I innovated, I learned, and I grew.  And yeah, everything wasn’t always perfect.  Sometimes there are typos. Sometimes I mispronounce a word on the podcast.  And that’s okay.  I think big corporate culture has trained us to expect perfection of ourselves as small businesses. But remember, those big companies have massive teams of people working on everything…and they still send out the wrong promo code or mess up the product pages on their site. 


I think running a small business really teaches you to be more gentle with yourself, to shed your fear of making mistakes, to build boundaries and stick to them.


I have learned more in my three+ years of working on Clotheshorse than I think I learned at my last three jobs!


This week Linkedin reminded me that five years ago this week, I moved to Philadelphia to work for Nuuly (URBN’s rental platform). When that company let me go at the beginning of the pandemic, I felt like my world was collapsing. Working there had not been good for me, but suddenly I had no health insurance and my career seemed to be over.

Years later, it’s hard to imagine being back at that job. I’ve done so much since then, met so many cool people, and found my community via Clotheshorse.

Life never stops being surprising. And I wouldn’t change that at all.

Want to Support Amanda's Work on Clotheshorse?

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]

Clotheshorse is brought to you with support from the following sustainable small businesses:

Thumbprint is Detroit’s only fair trade marketplace, located in the historic Eastern Market.  Our small business specializes in products handmade by empowered women in South Africa making a living wage creating things they love like hand painted candles and ceramics! We also carry a curated assortment of  sustainable/natural locally made goods. Thumbprint is a great gift destination for both the special people in your life and for yourself! Browse our online store at and find us on instagram @thumbprintdetroit.

Picnicwear:  a slow fashion brand, ethically made by hand from vintage and deadstock materials – most notably, vintage towels! Founder, Dani, has worked in the industry as a fashion designer for over 10 years, but started Picnicwear in response to her dissatisfaction with the industry’s shortcomings. Picnicwear recently moved to rural North Carolina where all their clothing and accessories are now designed and cut, but the majority of their sewing is done by skilled garment workers in NYC. Their customers take comfort in knowing that all their sewists are paid well above NYC minimum wage. Picnicwear offers minimal waste and maximum authenticity: Future Vintage over future garbage.

Shift Clothing, out of beautiful Astoria, Oregon, with a focus on natural fibers, simple hardworking designs, and putting fat people first.  Discover more at

High Energy Vintage is a fun and funky vintage shop located in Somerville, MA, just a few minutes away from downtown Boston. They offer a highly curated selection of bright and colorful clothing and accessories from the 1940s-1990s for people of all genders. Husband-and-wife duo Wiley & Jessamy handpick each piece for quality and style, with a focus on pieces that transcend trends and will find a home in your closet for many years to come! In addition to clothing, the shop also features a large selection of vintage vinyl and old school video games. Find them on instagram @ highenergyvintage, online at, and at markets in and around Boston.

St. Evens is an NYC-based vintage shop that is dedicated to bringing you those special pieces you’ll reach for again and again. More than just a store, St. Evens is dedicated to sharing the stories and history behind the garments. 10% of all sales are donated to a different charitable organization each month.  New vintage is released every Thursday at, with previews of new pieces and more brought to you on Instagram at @wear_st.evens.

Deco Denim is a startup based out of San Francisco, selling clothing and accessories that are sustainable, gender fluid, size inclusive and high quality–made to last for years to come. Deco Denim is trying to change the way you think about buying clothes. Founder Sarah Mattes wants to empower people to ask important questions like, “Where was this made? Was this garment made ethically? Is this fabric made of plastic? Can this garment be upcycled and if not, can it be recycled?” Signup at to receive $20 off your first purchase. They promise not to spam you and send out no more than 3 emails a month, with 2 of them surrounding education or a personal note from the Founder. Find them on Instagram as @deco.denim.

The Pewter Thimble Is there a little bit of Italy in your soul? Are you an enthusiast of pre-loved decor and accessories? Bring vintage Italian style — and history — into your space with The Pewter Thimble (@thepewterthimble). We source useful and beautiful things, and mend them where needed. We also find gorgeous illustrations, and make them print-worthy. Tarot cards, tea towels and handpicked treasures, available to you from the comfort of your own home. Responsibly sourced from across Rome, lovingly renewed by fairly paid artists and artisans, with something for every budget. Discover more at

Blank Cass, or Blanket Coats by Cass, is focused on restoring, renewing, and reviving the history held within vintage and heirloom textiles. By embodying and transferring the love, craft, and energy that is original to each vintage textile into a new garment, I hope we can reteach ourselves to care for and mend what we have and make it last. Blank Cass lives on Instagram @blank_cass and a website will be launched soon at

Gabriela Antonas is a visual artist, an upcycler, and a fashion designer, but Gabriela Antonas is also a feminist micro business with radical ideals. She’s the one woman band, trying to help you understand, why slow fashion is what the earth needs. If you find your self in New Orleans, LA, you may buy her ready-to-wear upcycled garments in person at the store “Slow Down” (2855 Magazine St). Slow Down Nola only sells vintage and slow fashion from local designers. Gabriela’s garments are guaranteed to be in stock in person, but they also have a website so you may support this women owned and run business from wherever you are! If you are interested in Gabriela making a one of a kind garment for you DM her on Instagram at @slowfashiongabriela to book a consultation.

Vagabond Vintage DTLV is a vintage clothing, accessories & decor reselling business based in Downtown Las Vegas. Not only do we sell in Las Vegas, but we are also located throughout resale markets in San Francisco as well as at a curated boutique called Lux and Ivy located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jessica, the founder & owner of Vagabond Vintage DTLV, recently opened the first IRL location located in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas on August 5th. The shop has a strong emphasis on 60s & 70s garments, single stitch tee shirts & dreamy loungewear. Follow them on instagram, @vagabondvintage.dtlv and keep an eye out for their website coming fall of 2022.

Country Feedback is a mom & pop record shop in Tarboro, North Carolina. They specialize in used rock, country, and soul and offer affordable vintage clothing and housewares. Do you have used records you want to sell? Country Feedback wants to buy them! Find us on Instagram @countryfeedbackvintageandvinyl or head downeast and visit our brick and mortar. All are welcome at this inclusive and family-friendly record shop in the country!

Located in Whistler, Canada, Velvet Underground is a “velvet jungle” full of vintage and second-hand clothes, plants, a vegan cafe and lots of rad products from other small sustainable businesses. Our mission is to create a brand and community dedicated to promoting self-expression, as well as educating and inspiring a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle both for the people and the planet. Find us on Instagram @shop_velvetunderground or online at

Selina Sanders, a social impact brand that specializes in up-cycled clothing, using only reclaimed, vintage or thrifted materials: from tea towels, linens, blankets and quilts.  Sustainably crafted in Los Angeles, each piece is designed to last in one’s closet for generations to come.  Maximum Style; Minimal Carbon Footprint.

Salt Hats:  purveyors of truly sustainable hats. Hand blocked, sewn and embellished in Detroit, Michigan.

Republica Unicornia Yarns: Hand-Dyed Yarn and notions for the color-obsessed. Made with love and some swearing in fabulous Atlanta, Georgia by Head Yarn Wench Kathleen. Get ready for rainbows with a side of Giving A Damn! Republica Unicornia is all about making your own magic using small-batch, responsibly sourced, hand-dyed yarns and thoughtfully made notions. Slow fashion all the way down and discover the joy of creating your very own beautiful hand knit, crocheted, or woven pieces. Find us on Instagram @republica_unicornia_yarns and at

Cute Little Ruin is an online shop dedicated to providing quality vintage and secondhand clothing, vinyl, and home items in a wide range of styles and price points.  If it’s ethical and legal, we try to find a new home for it!  Vintage style with progressive values.  Find us on Instagram at @CuteLittleRuin.