Welcome to Shanahan Studio Session Jake Visser, who is the owner and founder of The Reclaimers. Jake speaks about setting up his new business with his family and finding your passion in life. The Reclaimers is a vintage clothes shop in Great Malvern. The Reclaimers works on four principal ideas of Sustainability, Community, Individuality and Creativity. They believe in growing a sustainable community within their local area. We speak about running a fashion retail business, career advice and finding your way in the fashion industry.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I have always loved Fashion, I literally don’t remember when my love of Fashion and clothes started. When I was 16 I got really lucky, and a lovely teacher named Leslie at Brooklands College Weybridge agreed to let me on to a Fashion and Clothing BTEC course (even though I didn’t have the right grades, and all I had to show her was a few tie dyed T-shirt’s me and my mates had made that summer!). After college I thought I deserved a break! So I took a year off and went and worked as a waiter in Marrakesh, then sold tea and coffee off the back of a golf buggy in Hampshire and rounded out the year with a solo trip around Europe on the train! I then fumbled with what to do but ended up studying Fashion Design at Plymouth College of Art (once again let onto a course I didn’t really have the grades for, and with very little work to show, by an amazing teacher this time named Alison).
I had an amazing three years at PCA and really worked out what was in my fashion tool box and what just wouldn’t ever be (that’s sewing, I will never be a brilliant seamstress). My time at PCA gave me a better idea of what kind of direction I was meant to be going in, and after finishing University and working as a breakfast waiter at a hotel followed by a couple of months blowing that money around South East Asia, I was back and had managed to land myself an internship with a startup company called Lula Laora. That’s how I got my first job in fashion, and moved myself to London. It was unpaid which is rubbish isn’t it! That being said I did learn a lot and I am still very grateful to have done it.
Is there anyone in your family in the fashion business?
No, we don’t really have any connection to the Fashion Industry in the family. But we do have a really strong connection to style, for as long as I can remember (literally some of my first memories) me and my Momma would go shopping. We really enjoyed the whole ritual of a day shopping browsing the rails, stopping for coffee then more browsing, then maybe lunch. Momma really encouraged my love of fashion and shopping, so it must now be her fault my bank balance is always so low!!
Was it difficult for you to choose a career in fashion and how did you know this is what you wanted to do for your occupation?
Fashion is such a massive industry and I think when you start learning about all the different possible jobs it's quite exciting and daunting at the same time.
But I was really lucky honestly because I never really decided to work in the Vintage sector of Fashion.
I had been interning for Lula Laora and loving it when I just ran out of cash. I needed a job (and cash) quickly so ran down Brick Lane applying at every shop and got a job at Beyond Retro. It was the BEST unplanned thing ever!! I already knew that I loved buying and wearing vintage but I had never worked in a shop before (kind of lied on my C.V saying I had n't told them) so I had no idea how much I would end up loving selling it too!!
What were you doing before you opened The Reclaimers?
I had just moved back from London to my home town of Malvern (because I was broke). I managed to get a job working at a local pub, and it was great to tide me over but I really wanted to be working in Fashion again! I had kind of worked out that I didn’t want to be in London anymore, and that I missed the countryside. But I was also aware that if I wanted to work with vintage fashion I was probably going to have to move to a city. I then had a chat with my Mom and (as Moms do) she knew best and suggested that I start selling vintage furniture just on the side and see how I go. Anyway, two weeks later we were looking at a shop on the high street and furniture had turned to clothes, don’t ask me how I have no idea.
How would you describe your store?
I think if I had one word to describe us I would use the word COMFORTABLE. Physically we are quite a bright and airy shop, our cash desk is made of old worn pallets and we have tables made out of floor boards, both made by my very talented Dad, thanks Dad you are a boss!
Actually, come to think of it, the whole shop has been hand made using recycled items by my family!
My Uncle made our changing rooms and put up our shelves and Mirrors.
My Auntie, Momma and cousin painted, and my Grandma gave me my first spider plants (that have now multiplied and are consuming the shop). This is partly why I think we feel comfortable, I think when you walk in you can tell a lot of love has gone into the shop. And we haven’t just gone to shopfitters.org.net or whatever it is. And I think that seems to make people feel quite comfortable here.