Behind the boutique: Barnaby Jack

I'm so excited to bring back one of my favorite series that I started awhile ago called Behind the Boutique. In this series I will be interviewing some incredible vintage shops to get to know the people and process behind the boutique! I was able to catch up with Sara Ruhe who is the owner of the incredible vintage shop Barnaby Jack!

Can you give a brief introduction of you and your shop?
My name is Sara Ruhe and I am the owner of Barnaby Jack, an online vintage clothing shop that primarily sells women’s vintage clothing and accessories, and a few items for the home. We sell all eras and styles but are particularly drawn to Southwestern and Californian styles, and all the cultures that have influence these regions over the decades.

How did you get into selling vintage clothing?
Honestly, it started out as a hobby. I have always been into thrifting and finding cool and unusual vintage items, and soon my collection got out of hand. Eventually, decided to start selling on Etsy for fun, and soon enough, sales started to come in and the hobby started to become lucrative. I instantly fell in LOVE with selling vintage, and as my hobby turned into a tiny business, I decided to quit my day job and do it full time.

What is your process for acquiring vintage clothing?
The most common question I get is “where do you find this stuff” and the honest answer is everywhere. Vintage is easy to come by once you put out the radar. I used to search whenever I had free time, finding a little bit here and there. But now I don’t have time to do that anymore, and so I have to buy in bulk every so often so that I can spend the rest of my time cleaning, mending, photographing and listing.

What does an average day look like for you as a business owner? What are the rewards / challenges?
An average day starts with emails and coffee. Afterwards I’ll head to the studio and start by packing and sending out orders, and then photograph the new items I have that are ready to be listed. Then a large part of my day is filled with editing photos, taking measurements of pieces, and listing them on the site. Once I am done with that I will do any mending and cleaning, or anything else that I may have on the to do list.

The first reward that comes to mind is when I hear back from a happy customer! It always makes me super happy when I hear that someone is cherishing a piece that you found. Another reward of my day is knowing that my shop is primarily eco-friendly. I am a strong believer in recycling and reusing, and buying vintage clothing is a great way of doing that! Once I can find an entirely green way to ship items, then I can say I’m 100% eco-friendly, but that day has not yet come.

I’d say the biggest challenge so far is putting myself “out there”. I am a very shy and private person, and taking pictures of myself and putting them on the internet/social media is really nerve-wrecking! In addition to that, owning a business is filled with challenging risks. I am constantly faced with decisions that I am not 100% sure on, and so you just have to trust your gut and make it work.

What is your favorite era for vintage clothing?
My style is always changing, but I would have to say that the late 60’s/early 70’s are my favorite eras. I love the relaxed vibe, crazy prints and short hems.

What are your 3 favorite pieces on the site right now?
I love it all! But if I had to pick three it would be

Images courtesy of Barnaby Jack