Katy Leicester is the person behind Handpickedvintage.com, an affordable vintage clothing website, for men and women and based in the UK.
It was dreamt up after Katy worked in all areas of fashion, costumes and textiles and spent a lifetime collecting and obsessing over vintage clothing, fabric and embroidery.
She was brought up going to jumble sales, charity shops, markets and car boot sales in the UK and abroad. From this weekend pastime, a hobby developed, which has become a way of life.
With her degree in Textiles from Nottingham Trent University and having worked for many major fashion retailers, in theatre, print and costume design, she is also a dab hand with a needle and thread herself.
Katy loves nothing more than a good old fancy dress party, dancing in a field with friends to an eclectic mix of music and that feeling of finding that next Handpicked Vintage treasure. We spent five minutes chatting to Katy about her interesting business...
Tell us a bit more about yourself
My name is Katy Leicester and I can hand on heart say I could talk about, look at and admire vintage clothes, and people wearing them all day! I just love that feeling of when a customer looks and feels amazing in a garment that I have found for them.
How did you get into your creative field?
I have always been very creative and I couldn’t imagine working in any other sector – working in an office just doesn’t appeal!
Who, where or what did you learn the most from during your career?
I have had a few key jobs over the years that looking back now are really relevant in how I run my business. I worked as a sales assistant in a clothes shop where I learnt everything customer service related like what a customer actually wants and expects from a brand. I worked in a technical department of a fashion knitwear supplier, so I learnt that having an eye for detail and understanding body shape was essential.
My last job before starting my business was working for Madame Tussauds in the wardrobe department. Part of my job was to dress and style the figures but also to source everything and anything to do with a figures outfit, so at times you really to be quite inventive in where you source things from, much like how I source the stock for the website.
Are there any moments of your career you’re especially proud of?
It was quite a liberating moment when I made the decision to start my own business. I had struggled for a few years in finding a stable job in the area that I wanted to work in and had suffered a few knock backs but I was so adamant that I wanted to do something creative and what I was passionate about. So when I had made my mind up it was a huge relief that I could put all my energy into the business and take control of what I was doing.
So what’s next in the pipeline for you?
I have some really exciting photo shoots with some great companies that I’m currently preparing for – sourcing clothes and props that I will use for styling which is a part of my job I absolutely love.
Who or what inspires you?
My friends and family inspire me most. As my great grandparents, grandparents, other family members and close friends have all successfully set up their own business’ out of nothing so whenever I think I might not be able to do something, a determination kicks in and I think – if they can do it, so can I!
When you’re not working, what are you up to?
As collecting and sourcing vintage clothes and generally anything that I find in charity shops, car boots and garage sales has always been a hobby of mine, you could say that I never stop working. But it never feels like work so in that respect I’m fortunate that I have created a job for myself where I get to do what I enjoy every day and I don’t mind working 7 days a week!
Finally, what advice would you give to others just starting out in your creative field?
For me I never stop talking to people about what they are doing, I always make a point of asking new people that I meet what career they have. Firstly because I am interested (and I’m quite nosey) but secondly you just never know what connections they have. I stand by the rule that sometimes it’s not what you know it’s who you know.