Friday, 1 July 2016

Meet Caroline Brown from Rose & Brown Vintage


So who is the owner of this fabulous Snoopy bag?
Only the lovely Caroline Brown from Rose & Brown Vintage! When Caroline suggested meeting for coffee at the Salts Diner in Salts Mill things were already off to a good start. Salts Mill is one of my favourite places to while away the time. There is something special about this building, the smell of the building, the artwork, wonderful books with classical music playing in the background. It never fails to inspire. 

 Caroline and her husband Julian run Rose & Brown Vintage Home and Fashion Fairs in Saltaire, which is where I did my very first vintage fair and most of her fairs since. When I started this blog I saw it as part of my journey in to the world of vintage and  about the people who I meet along the way. As stall holders we generally communicate with Caroline via email and have brief communication during the fair days but we are all too busy to find time to stop and chat. So chat we did and it was a pleasure to find out more! 
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How did your interest in all things vintage get started?
"My interest started as a child going to second-hand shops with my mum". I am intrigued to hear that Caroline's mum , named Rose, worked as a housekeeper at a wealthy stamp-dealer's house when Caroline was a teenager. "I was fascinated by the old stuff and loved its traces of history". Caroline shared stories of how she would help do the cleaning as a Saturday job which would invariably take twice as long as she would stop to look at all the books and pieces of history whilst listening to a bit of 80's pop on her Walkman! This sounds like a vintage lovers idea of heaven now. What a lovely nod of appreciation to Rose who inspired the 'Rose & Brown Vintage' name.
Originally from Surrey a move up to Huddersfield University saw Caroline regularly vintage shopping in the markets which is where her personal collection started and she discovered 1960's shift dresses . "The little jewel-coloured velvet 60's shift dresses. I will always have a soft spot for those".


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Do you have a favourite era?
Caroline and I share a love for the 1980's television programme "The House OF Eliot" which ignited a real passion for the 1920's in Caroline and has become her favourite era.
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"The 1920's were an intriguing time of change, the music was brilliant, the detailing on the clothing were amazing and Art Deco furniture and interiors are incredible". This conversation made me want to revisit The House of Eliot one more time.
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How did the Rose & Brown vintage fairs begin?
Whilst running the House of Rose & Brown vintage boutique in Saltaire, Caroline saw a gap in the vintage fair market. "I loved genuine vintage, it was a way of bringing vintage sellers together to help spread the love". It also meant Caroline could bring together her passion for home ware and furniture together with fashion and the Saltaire Vintage Home & Fashion fair was born. "It was important to offer a fair which celebrated both". I find Caroline very unassuming about her achievements. Not only was she running a busy vintage boutique, running fairs but also organising vintage fashion shows in Victoria Hall too. A real champion for promoting all things vintage. Who else would love to see some vintage fashion shows popping up again! I would!!

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Favourite finds?
Stand outs for Caroline would be a 1950's blue silk velvet 'New Look' cut fit and flare evening coat. that one special find that comes into your shop and gets sold the same day! "I seem to remember it was from Brown & Muff department store in Bradford, which added that special piece of local history too". 
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Isn't this 1920's velvet cape woven with metallic thread stunning. The vivid bright colours are amazing. 

From talking to Caroline I think her passion is torn between vintage fashion and the home ware furniture world. Just look at these amazing life-size 1970's cardboard cut outs of Batman and Robin that took pride of place in her shop. They are so cool. When asked if she has some memorable vintage pieces that got away Caroline clearly remembers a beautiful set of apothecary drawers which at the time were just out of reach financially. Isn't that always the case!

What do you think the North can offer to vintage shoppers?
"The North feels fresh and exciting, like their could still be lots of hidden treasures tucked away". I know from my experience as a seller that their are some real gems of clothing still out there waiting to be discovered. Some of my best pieces have been from personal collections of mothers and grandmothers collections. "If vintage fans from other parts of the country are prepared to travel I believe the North would not disappoint". Caroline also pointed out that so many vintage fairs are held in beautiful old buildings, in picturesque interesting villages and towns, along side the cool city location such as Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.
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So what advice does Caroline give to any newbie vintage shopper?
"Just fall in love with it, be delighted that something so wonderful has survived and fallen into your hands". I love this advice and sentiment. 
Whilst we have an air of romance let's talk about what Caroline loves about her job?
"I love running my own business and working with my husband. It is very satisfying to bring beautiful vintage to thousands of people each year and get to work with knowledgeable stall holders". One thing I have really been pleasantly surprised by as vintage stall holder is how friendly other stall holders are. You do feel like part of one big team at fairs with everyone supporting each other, offering expertise, knowledge advice and encouragement.
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Whilst talking to Caroline you can tell just how much running the fairs mean to her and how committed she has become to making sure things run smoothly.
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 It seems to me that those people involved in the world of vintage share a real passion about what they do although Julian might not be too happy with this a few days before any fair! Caroline admits that the nerves leading up to a fair doesn't get any less after all the years of running them. Considering how many fairs they will be running over the Summer it's clear she might need a glass of wine or two at the end of the day to wind down! Not only do they hold regular fairs at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire but we get to go to the seaside too!
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 Whitby Pavilion is the perfect seaside spot for a weekend of vintage lovers. When the first Rose & Brown Vintage fairs started they had 22 stall holders, now they have 54 in Whitby and 49 in Saltaire. This is great news for shoppers as their is such a good range of sellers, carefully picked by Caroline for good quality true vintage stock.
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Do you worry about the future sustainability of vintage fashion?
"Yes, earlier fashion is getting harder to find, from the 20's to the 50's, so there is questions about the sustainability of this business. I can only hope that whilst collectors are out there, that means that piece still exists. A least if people are preserving (and cherishing them) rather than throwing them away there is hope that they will return back out on the market again for another generation to appreciate and preserve."
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Judging from the soundtracks played at any of the Rose & Brown vintage fairs both Caroline and Julian have an eclectic love of music. When asked for a favourite tune it was a tough one, going with a bit of 1960's jazz from Thelanious Monk narrowly beating a bit of Prince!
So here is a bit of 'Rhythm n Ning' for you to relax to Caroline. x
If you would like to know more about Rose & Brown Vintage
Thanks for dropping by x
Where next???