EAST LANSING, Mich.—East Lansing locals and Michigan State students gathered for the fourth annual Vintage Fest, an event that brings together the community through creativity and a passion for all things vintage. The festival occurred on Oct. 28 and included local vendors and vintage apparel.
Vintage Fest featured a range of vendors, including More than Vintage, Bluthreadsandco, Amorpropio, Casey Archive, Mebblet, Graveyard Vintage and Love and Lace Vintage. People who attended the event had a wide selection to shop, each with a unique story to tell.
“I was very close with my grandma, and after she passed away, I wanted to feel close to her,” said Megan Timmerman, founder of Bluethreadsandco. “I started doing things that we did together, including sewing, knitting and crocheting. After that I started to make stuff for myself, some girls in my apartment complex were asking where I got the stuff I made, so I kind of started from people being interested in my ideas. But most of my business stems from my grandma.”
Running her business has its challenges. “I do it all myself, each piece is handmade, so time goes into that,” Timmerman said. She notes that she is also a full-time student trying to earn a master’s degree. “It gets to be a time struggle, but it is really rewarding.”
Timmerman’s hope is that people recognize the care and quality she puts into her products. “The product that they are getting is something I care about very much and making sure it’s not something that’s going to tear or break the first time they wear it,” Timmerman said. “It might be a little more expensive, but it’s because I care so much about doing things in an ethical way and it being something that lasts.”
Mebblet, another Vintage Fest vendor, is a unique jewelry brand that started as a hobby for MSU student Megan Rabaut. She originally made jewelry for herself but expanded her brand during high school.
“Coming to Michigan State, I joined Student Made and started growing my brand,” Rabaut said. “This is my first time doing pop-ups and actually selling, which has been really cool.”
Like any business, there are challenges. The main one Rabaut faces is the one-of-a-kind nature of her products. “Because everything is one-of-a-kind, it’s really difficult to sell things in a store,” she said. “With vintage things, it’s hard to make a lot of them and mass produce to sell those.”
Rabaut is grateful for the benefits Vintage Fest has on the East Lansing community, specifically college students. “I know a lot of the vendors are college students, and it’s really good to get their name out there,” Rabaut said. “Especially, if it’s something they want to pursue after college.”
Vintage Fest also provides inspiration for students and other makers who might be interested in starting a business of their own. Carlina Pitello, a Vintage Fest attendee who has a small business of her own, came specifically to support other student-entrepreneurs. “I hope that attending Vintage Fest will encourage me to pursue my own entrepreneurial endeavors,” Pitello said.
Another attendee, Zoe Zagroba, was also inspired by the event. “It makes me want to start something on my own and makes me think that anything is possible if you put the effort in.”
Zagroba also wanted to take advantage of being able to see some of her favorite vendors’ products in person. “I feel like there’s no event that’s a street shutdown kind of thing where you can shop a bunch of different things that are harder to get because most of them are sold on social media,” she said.
Louie Azor, event coordinator for Vintage Fest and owner of More than Vintage, has big goals for the future of the event. “Some goals we have are to start doing this on a bigger scale and start hitting some other cities all over Michigan,” said Azor. “One of the biggest priorities has always been making sure it’s a super fun and welcoming environment … providing a platform for local vendors to reach a new community.”
None of this could have been possible without help from the city. “Thanks to the mayor he helped us get a provision passed and a new city program in place for businesses to use street availability through downtown East Lansing,” said Azor.
This year’s Vintage Fest brought together a community of college students, vintage enthusiasts and small-business owners. For those who may have missed the fall event, the next Vintage Fest will be held in East Lansing this spring, with more details to come.