If you already know Amanda Lee Vega, you may have listened to her hauntingly sweet voice at The Howard Theater or DC's many coffee houses. Maybe you're following her on Instagram, where she shares her music, style, and adventures with her bass-playing husband and her cats Walter & Stanley -- who, by the way, have single-handedly changed our shameful dislike of cats to adoration. Or perhaps you're rockin' a vintage piece from Dear Boutique, Amanda's very first Instagram shop & fashion venture.
So it was no surprise when she bravely launched KALEIDOS this summer, a beautiful online boutique created from months of planning and years of dreaming. We spent a morning in her home chatting about inspiration, while surrounded by the things she loves -- music, art, design & of course, her cats.
Describe your perfect day. It can totally involve yoga pants & messy buns.
My perfect morning would be: waking up refreshed from a good night's rest (which is rare), starting the day with a full glass of water, driving my husband to work and having breakfast with him, and then going to a coffee shop for a couple hours to chip away at emails, do some photoshop/ social media work, and brainstorm ideas...then going home to take a cat nap and cuddle with my two cats, Walter & Stanley.
We love the name KALEIDOS. Did you stumble upon it or was it a quest finding it?
The name KALEIDOS (pronounced kuh-lahy-dohs) derives from the ancient Greek words, kalos & eidos, which translate to a "beautiful kind." It wasn't easy coming up with the name though. I spent months trying to find the right name. When I came up with KALEIDOS, a light lit up and that's how I knew it was it. I felt like it fit perfectly with the vision for my shop, both aesthetically and on a heart level. I was inspired by the kaleidoscope - the idea of shining light on a collection of pieces. In the same sense, my goal is to curate and shine light on vintage finds and emerging under-the-radar designs. And through the blog on my shop, my goal is to show the heart of KALEIDOS - sharing and celebrating the spectrum of a creative lifestyle. I plan to share playlist, interviews with other creatives, and more!
You're passionate about shining a light on independent artists & celebrating creativity. How do you discover these artists?
I discover most of my designers through Instagram. Also, I went to my first market week in NYC earlier this year and that, of course, is a great way for meeting and scouting independent designers. I adore all of the designers that I carry! It's hard to only pick a few. The amazing thing about working with independent designers is the personal interaction I get to have with them. There's a human interaction. I have the ability to get to know the designers and ask about their story, their background, and their production process. In turn, it makes me more passionate about supporting them as a business, but also as people.
The White Maps Haley dress is by a designer named Ilana Kohn. I stumbled upon a jumpsuit of hers on Pinterest and fell in love with it. I emailed her and then eventually met her in NYC early this year during market week. The dress is part of her Spring/Summer'15 collection. I placed and order for that dress and the jumpsuit that I discovered on Pinterest (which happened to be the top seller in the shop, and is now sold out)! I really love working with Ilana. I found out that she is originally from Virginia, just a few minutes away from me. We connected on that and our love for pho! Plus, she is super sweet, responsive, and obviously very talented. I am excited for her success and am proud to be carrying her clothing at KALEIDOS.
What are your hopes for the shop, one ... five, ten years down the line?
Five to ten years down the line, I hope to open a brick and mortar location. That would be the ultimate dream! I imagine hosting shopping events with live music, hosting pop-ups for local designers, etc. It would be so amazing! Above all though, my hope is that people will connect with what I am doing. I am still a baby business, so I feel like my customers are still getting to know me. I hope my customers will be excited enough to follow my growth and love it enough to share it with their friends.
When a customer receives a package from KALEIDOS, I hope they feel excited and feel the personal touch. I personally package all the orders, handwrite the customer's name, and sign my name on a little "thank you" card. Their support means a lot to me! I hope they feel my gratitude and love.
Last but not least, share a little inspiration with us!
A book that's inspired you lately: A great book that I read within this past year and was absolutely inspired by was #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. I was so inspired by her story - particularly how she grew her company so organically without any prior experience in business, marketing, or fashion. She simply worked hard, learned, and figured it all out along the way. I was really inspired by that especially because I can be an over thinker at times and it tends to disable me from taking action. It is something I am trying to live more by - going for it and figuring it out along the way.
A woman who inspires you: I am inspired by women (or rather people) who are pushing their boundaries and living out their dreams. I am inspired by people who are immensely talented and humble and genuine, people who have an innate understanding of what living life to the fullest means, people who are kind and giving, people who are relatable, people who strive to be truer versions of themselves. These are qualities I find most inspiring in people. I want to find them and I want to be surrounded by them.
Amanda, congratulations on your newest adventure! We can't wait to see all the "beautiful kinds" you discover.
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