Thursday, June 5, 2008

Vintage Bulletin interviews - denisebrain!

This week's interview is with denisebrain.
The gal behind the name is Maggie and she is also who you see modeling the clothing that she sells. Many sellers use live models nowadays, but Maggie was one of the first sellers on ebay to use live modeling to show off her clothing. Selling on ebay since 1999, she has an eye for classic vintage pieces and somehow she looks great in everything she models! She can go from beautiful and chic in one outfit to sweet and cute in another. She looks natural, like a real person, and she always looks like she's having fun.
I've been a fan of denisebrain auctions for many years, and after doing this interview with Maggie, I admire her even more. So many comments that she's makes in the interview are the same way that I feel about vintage clothing, and other comments inspire me to love vintage clothing even more!

1. Please give a brief history of how you ended up selling vintage clothing
*Maggie - I have worn vintage clothing since I raided my mother's closet as a young teenager. My mother (and later I) made a lot of my clothes and I got a lot of mileage out of supplementing with 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s items to be found at home. I frequented the 2nd hand and vintage stores near my high school in Seattle, ca. 1975-78--a great time and place for vintage.
My college degrees are in music and I played Principal Horn (French horn) in the Spokane Symphony for 16 years, then a traumatic incident necessitated me rethinking my career. While I was contemplating what I could do with my life, I was (as ever) shopping for vintage clothing for myself. I finally put it together, making a business of something I really love.

2. What kind of vintage clothing can customers find in your store
*Maggie - I occasionally have Victorian and Edwardian items. Spokane, Washington (where I now live) had a very opulent early history and the items I find, ca. 1880-1930 are often quite lovely. More often you will find 1940s, 50s and 60s, with plenty of 70s and some 80s as well. I always sell what I would want to wear myself, and am pretty broad in my own taste.

3. Do you have a philosophy on buying, collecting or selling vintage clothing?
4. What makes you excited about vintage clothing, what keeps you interested in it? *Maggie - I have many philosophies, it's hard to whittle them down!
I love vintage clothing for not being new...taking up new materials, using new (scarce) energy. For a sane use of the world's resources, and of course for style and quality, I love most anything not new over most anything new. There is enough quality used clothing to clothe everyone on earth for some time.
One thing that truly excites me in vintage clothing is wit, whether it is in the print of the fabric, the cut of the garment or the construction details. I love detail, I love quality fabric and construction, and above all I love wit.
Designer labels don't mean quite as much to me as an item being a great example of what it is. I also deeply appreciate vintage basics of all kinds. I wouldn't dream of buying a new black sweater or white shirt.
I believe in women wearing clothing that suits them, fits them, and--above all--makes them happy. I really take a stake in having my customers feel glad to be wearing their vintage items. I work on items to insure that they are as clean as they can be, mended and ready to wear. I take my cleaning to an old-fashioned dry cleaner that truly respects vintage garments. I am as scrupulously honest as I can be about flaws and potential cleaning issues. I advocate for the items I sell and for vintage in general.
Another part of my presentation and philosophy is my own appearance in the clothing. I started doing my own modeling just to say "see, I'm just a regular person who really enjoys vintage clothing...can't you imagine yourself doing this too?" I want to share the fun. There's a sort of agelessness and timelessness about vintage clothing that I adore. I think anyone can look great in the right item, and can express her- or himself uniquely. Further, I find it helpful to have the opportunity and experience of trying on lots of items, and I am always happy to help from that "insider" perspective.

5. What sort of items do you collect personally - vintage clothing, antiques, weird stuff or otherwise
*Maggie - I have a great number of green hats. It used to be that every time I prepared to sell one I'd get a big lump in my throat, so I just had to decide to keep them. I also have many 1960s bright, crazy-print half slips. They seem to be a little out of sync with their era (struggling to be "with it" while lingerie was fading in popularity) so I feel a sort of kinship with them. Finally, every single pair of vintage shoes that fits my larger size (US 9) foot is mine, all mine. Donations gratefully accepted.
I probably have a thousand LPs and 800 CDs. I am still a musician and music means so much to me.

6. What are your future plans, where do you see yourself in 2-3 years with selling Vintage
*Maggie - Actually, in 2-3 months I hope to see myself with my own website. I've been on eBay for quite a long time and would like to cut the old apron strings slowly but surely. I absolutely love my many long-term eBay customers, but I don't love eBay.
I would be grateful not to be doing everything myself. My dream employees for the future include an encyclopedic source to right my ways and fill in all facts about the clothing, preferably a woman of a certain age that remembers these eras with scientific but poetic clarity; and a meticulous person devoted to the tiniest detail for packaging and shipping.

7. List all of the places where you sell
*Maggie - You can find most of my places by going to my web portal page,
There you can find links to my eBay store, my monthly theme (called "trends," which is really a creative outlet) my MySpace blog and my Etsy handmade handbag shop. Oh, I forgot to mention that I make bags out of vintage fabrics--a nice way to make use of the beautiful old fabrics I find as yard goods, and sometimes part out from clothing that is no longer usable. I am also selling vintage clothing on Etsy at

8. Do you have a blog
*Maggie - My blog is found at

9. Show me a few of your favorite items that you currently have for sale and explain what you like the most about them -
*Maggie - I have a 40s dress listed right now that pleases me in every way, from the incredible modern art print (Picasso doodling?) to the creative details.
40s Vintage White+Black Art Print Dress-Best Detail!-M

Right now I'm fortunate to have a 1950s Alfred Shaheen dress listed, and it is a honey, totally flattering and with a fabulously rich undersea print.
50s Vintage Shaheen Circle Skirt Red Print Sundress-S/M

I love this pink suit by Eleanor Green dating from the latter half of the 40s. I love pink, I love peplums, I love suits, I love the 40s, I love polka this is pretty lovable for me!
Late 40s Pink Polka Dot Silky Dress & Peplum Jacket-S

Where to find denisebrain vintage -
denisebrain on ebay

Hand made hand bags -

Plus you have to check out the monthly 'Trends' show -

Great interview, right? Thank you Maggie!

Bye for now, Carol


Darlene said...

I love Maggie, emotionally and spiritually. She's a doll, a dollface, and totally chic. I can only hope to be 1/2 as fabulous when I am her age. Love M!

daisyfairbanks said...

Denisebrain has been one of my favorite sellers since I discovered ebay. She has a wonderful eye, great stock, is quite adorable and always original!

ehappy said...

Carol,great interview! I've admired denisebrain's auctions and have had her saved to my list of favorites on eBay ever since I started selling vintage.

It's nice learning more about her!

XO Angie

Catbooks1940s said...

Great interview, Carol! I'm so glad you chose Maggie/Denisebrain to interview. She's been one of my favorite vintage dealers for years. She's lovely inside and out. Her photos - and inventory! - are a joy to look at; they exude her sincere love of vintage.

It was great fun reading her background.

Maggie/denisebrain said...

Carol, thank you for this, I really appreciate the opportunity, and am really touched by others' comments!

Very nice to read the other interviews too!

Anonymous said...

I love Denisebrain's auctions too! Always so bright and cheerful her smile ...make's ya smile!! it was nice to read your interview with Maggie ..thank you to you both, and Maggie your beautiful!! continued success to you!!


Hoardmeister said...

Maggie, I didn't know that was actually YOU in those pictures! You are gorgeous! And what a fascinating interview. Thanks, Carol!