@VISUALDISTRATION OWNER, KARINA GIVES US HER SHOPS STORY AND WHY HER GRANDMA GAVE HER ALL HER CREARIVE WISDOM
My name is Karina and I run Visual Distraction Clothing. I am 22 from East London, currently living at home and running my business from my shed. I studied BSC Geography at The University of Sheffield for three years, graduating in June 2019. Geography and climate change have been two great passions of mine to study since I started high school. I believe everything can be related back to geography in some way so I think it is a really important subject. I chose Sheffield as the university had good coverage on glaciology, which I have always been intrigued by and its relationship with climate change.
Climate change is a pressing issue and Depop has allowed me to temporarily bridge together my love of the environment and creativity, knowing that by being creative with old garments I can positively impact the environment. I am glad the damaging impacts and ethics of fast fashion to both the environment and people are beginning to surface but it is still young. When people think of climate change they go straight to the effects of industry and transportation and I hope that by me and all the other wonderful sellers providing beautiful vintage clothing we can show people that an amazing new purchase doesn’t necessarily have to be brand new.
I love to rework and revive clothes. I get such great satisfaction from seeing an item transition from dated or damaged, to a freshly pressed and constructed gem. I thank my Mormor (Danish for Grandma) for all the creative skills I have acquired from a young age. My mum is Danish so we visit Denmark quite a few times a year. When I was younger every time we would visit, my Mormor would have a new crazy handmade design to teach me. Anything from weaved newspaper bags to coke can lid lampshades. She is honestly a sustainable QUEEN and the most creative person I know. She has taught me everything I know. I am not a fashion student and so I am so grateful to have someone like her in my life to absorb inspiration from. I have sold things we’ve created in the past, like these amazing tie skirts and corsets but I hope to bring in more and more of that creativity to my shop over the summer. It has been hard to meet Depop targets for top seller status and find time to focus on my own collections but I am finally releasing some and I hope to transition my page to more handmade items.
Depop can be challenging at times, learning how to manage my time to ensure I am not under or overworking myself has been a constant battle. Some days I would work 14 hours and others none - but I am finally starting to find my balance. I have now learnt the importance of giving yourself a day off. Where before I would see it as slacking off, I now see it as a day of recovery where I can come back even more motivated the next day. Transforming my shed into a studio really helped me manage my time better as I can shut the door at night, forget about work and re-enter the next day.
I do hope to go into a geographical career in the future but right now I couldn’t ask for anything more. I feel so grateful to every single person who has supported my shop as it had enabled me to have this free and unrestricted self-employed lifestyle. I’m able to create every day, play dress-up for a living and positively impact the environment. I love how eager everyone around me is to muck in to try and help me. My friends and family are always so excited to donate a bag of ‘trash’ clothing to see what I can do with it. They see rubbish, I see a project. I am also in love with the Depop community, everyone is so encouraging and willing to help with each other’s queries. I have made so many friends through Depop, some who I have actually met and some are just from interacting with each other online. There is no hierarchy with sellers, no matter how big or small everyone looks out for each other.
I do feel pressured from time to time when people ask me about my current employment status, or ‘what have you done with your degree?’, as I feel there is a social pressure on postgrads to go straight into a job relating to the subject you studied. It took me a few months to be proud of and feel confident in my little business. I found I was increasingly comparing myself to other graduates towards the end of 2019, who have secured themselves annual salary jobs (who I am so proud of) but it made me feel small and that I wasn’t doing enough. Also, a lot of my friends on Depop already have creative backgrounds and degrees so by pursuing it full time they are already in the field of what they set out to do and probably know a lot more than I do. The way I have learnt to look at it now is that I am a young business woman who has built a business from her shed and has learnt many necessary life skills such as how to deal with tax. I have now gotten used to the disapproving looks you see flash over some peoples faces when you say you have a Depop account and that is your full-time job. They just don’t bother me anymore because at the end of the day I am happy, sustaining myself and still saving for the future. I have my first-class degree and I am just enjoying having a little time off studying where I can be creative.
I sold the odd thing from my own wardrobe on Depop for a few years since I started university and started creating a few pieces to sell 2018. In all honesty, I loved the extra bit of money it brought me at university but I never considered how it could become my full time career. A member of Depop reached out to me regarding the ‘Depop Level Up’ scheme that they ran in August 2019, saying I should get involved. The level up day opened my eyes to the possibilities of Depop becoming a career, teaching us the importance of branding and how to present your page so I fully kicked off the business changing the name to Visual Distraction in September 2019. My friend helped me make a logo, I made a shop Instagram, began offering free postage, converted my shed into a studio and it all started to come together. I felt I was establishing an actual brand after creating a parcel insert and sending skittles with every order, as the customers really appreciated it and have remembered my name and returned since. By January 2020 I had my blue tick and I felt I had accomplished something.
My shop currently focuses on womenswear, as I don’t have a male model but I am looking to sell more and more unisex and menswear. It can be hard to sell menswear when modelled on a woman. When I am out sourcing I go straight to the trousers, my own personal wardrobe is around 70% trouser I feel it’s the most staple item of clothing so I focus my shop on what I love. As a taller girl, I know how hard it can be to find the perfect waist to length ratio so I want to help all my tall babes by providing them with the ultimate bottoms.
The Instagram side of business has been a hard concept for me to grasp as I was never much of an ‘instagrammer’ on my personal account. Maybe the odd scenic photo every couple of months but that was its extent. Having to upgrade from that to daily posting was a mission in itself, whilst still trying to run a Depop shop. I have learnt how important an Instagram page can be to a business as a lot of people spend their evenings on it and so it is great for recognition. At first, the thought of posting images of myself in clothing daily to Instagram was daunting. Depop is focused solely on the purpose of selling clothes but Instagram users may be a bit more judgmental. I used to crop my face out of all the photos I took because I was nervous, I’ve had a few accounts on Depop body shame and say comments that weren’t appreciated. Now, I have learnt to stop caring and just have fun with ‘over-the-top shoots’ - like my lockdown series and bleach work. It’s such a fun way of expressing yourself.
The only thing I can say I dislike about Depop is some of the attitudes from customers I face. Although rare, one harsh message can ruin me for the day. I feel like people just don’t see how Depop could be a full-time career so they don’t treat you with as much respect as they would a normal shop. I’ve had items on for £25 and people offer £8 which I just find insulting. People just don’t understand the time and effort that goes into selling an item of vintage clothing from the start of the cycle to the end. From sourcing, washing, repairing, reworking, ironing, shooting, sizing, grading, captioning, uploading, replying, packing and finally shipping (a long list). One thing that puts me off incorporating more handmade pieces is that customers expect to get a £15 bargain on an item of clothing that might have taken 15 hours to make all because they are able to purchase fast fashion items at low cost.
Initially I was worried about how COVID-19 would affect my business but now I am treating it as a way to get more creative with the bits and bobs I have lying around. I hope to launch a patchwork collection by summer and have a few other collection plans coming along too. It’s all just very exciting.
Karina (VDC) x