The Woman Behind Trilogy Consignment
The Woman Behind Trilogy Consignment
On the outside we may all have different career labels but on the inside we are all the same.
We are on a mission to dig deeper on this human experience. We want the world to hear the stories that often go unheard. We want you to meet the real women behind their professional labels and we want it to inspire you. Each month we’ll highlight the story behind different working women in an effort to shed light to who they truly are.
This month we interviewed the owner of Trilogy Consignment, a consignment store located in Tarrytown, New York. Her store has the coolest clothing and even better vibe; she makes you feel comfortable as if she’s known you for years. I’ve been a fan of this store for a while and I needed to know more about the amazing human behind it.
Meet Heather, the woman behind Trilogy Consignment:
Did you always want to be a business owner or did you have other dreams?
I always wanted to help people, but I wasn't sure what that might look like until I started working in a small consignment shop in Massachusetts. By the end of the first year, I was 20 years old and I could already see the need for compassionate retail where the customer's mental health and self esteem took priority over sales. During my fourth year there, I began to learn about the fashion industry and came into the awareness that shopping secondhand is a form of recycling. In all my years shopping secondhand, that somehow never quite clicked for me. During my fifth year there, I realized that I could focus my energy on expanding the reach of consignment by opening my own body-positive store, and provide a safe space for folks in a new city.
How did Trilogy come about?
In 2013, my cousin (who is also a business owner) and a good friend of mine both independently started to encourage me to think seriously about opening my own store. That friend was living in Tarrytown at the time and connected me with my first location. He told me he thought Tarrytown would like what I had to offer, and I'm so glad I trusted him. My amazing parents were my biggest supporters, both emotionally and financially. It would have been significantly more difficult to execute my vision without their help. I felt confident that I would be able to source merchandise from my favorite secondhand shops if I couldn't find enough consignors to keep fresh items flowing through, but that has never been an issue. The community in Tarrytown has been enthusiastically supportive as consignors and customers since before I even opened my doors!
Did you always care about sustainability and shopping consciously? If not, at what point did that change for you?
The words "sustainable" and "conscious consumer" were not in my lexicon until I opened Trilogy. I have been shopping secondhand since I was 8 years old because I enjoyed the hunt and finding unique styles that no one else had, but it took a while to occur to me that I was also helping the environment. I started working in a vintage+modern consignment shop when I was 19 because it was honestly the coolest shop I had ever been in. After the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2012, a non-profit called Fashion Revolution sprung up to try to educate folks about that preventable disaster and the inhumane working conditions of most garment workers, as well as the extreme waste created by the fashion industry and the threat it poses to the environment. I have been learning from them ever since. That was about the time I committed myself to drastically reducing the percentage of items I buy new.
What’s your favorite thing about owning a business?
The creative freedom, which includes the freedom to work as late as I want to. I am a bit of a night owl so I tend to feel very inspired after dark. Being able to create my own hours has unlocked some serious productive creative energy for me. I also love being an employer building a team of amazing folks. Paying talented people to do work they enjoy is extremely gratifying.
Has learning from a mistake ever let you to success?
Absolutely...making mistakes in this business is always a learning experience, and I think a big part of my education from my first consignment shop job was from making mistakes. My boss was very patient and committed to guiding me, and never missed an opportunity to help me do something better. I admit that was a hard pill for me to swallow at first, being a prideful young adult, but a friend pointed out that my boss wouldn't be taking the time to teach me if she didn't think I had potential. That helped me shift my perspective and welcome constructive criticism. The experience taught me how to catch myself when I start to get defensive or ashamed when I make mistakes, and that has been an invaluable lesson.
In moments of hard time how do you pick yourself back up?
I call my mom and head into nature...fortunately, I live in an area where I can see the Hudson River from the street outside my shop, and I can get to the stunning Rockefeller State Park Preserve in five minutes. Being surrounded by nature helps me calm down, slow down, reflect, emote...any and all the things I need to get myself back to equilibrium. And my mom is the wisest, most compassionate human I know. She makes everything better.
What’s your life motto?
I guess it would have to be something about approaching life with humility and empathy so I'm able to always be learning how to do less harm. I accept the fact that the vast majority of humans - including me! - are harmful to the environment and other humans because we are consumers trapped funding a very broken capitalist system. Instead of letting that reality get me down, I try to learn about small, actionable ways to off-set my negative impact and show others that it isn't as difficult or expensive as it might seem.
What is your favorite thing about yourself?
My brain! It gives me my confidence, openness, curiosity, empathy and sense of humor. I think it also makes me perfectly suited for this compassionate retail work.
If you had all the money in the world and working wasn’t necessary what would you be doing right now?
I often daydream about this! I would be in Mexico working with folks to build a textile recycling facility that makes fabric, and we would also have a garment factory to make awesome, quality clothing out of the recycled material (to rival big trendy fast fashion brands). It would be completely ethical, with safe, humane conditions for workers, good pay, good benefits and a good community. We would have live music and big dinners at least once a month. I would ideally keep a foot in the states, from New York to California, to collect unwanted textiles that would otherwise end up in a landfill. I would also have a staggering gem collection and a spacious piece of property with as many rescue dogs as I could handle. I would be doing as much good as possible.
Have you ever struggled with mental health? And if so what has that journey been like for you ?
It's an ongoing evolution.
What does success look like in your day to day life?
A day is successful when I have a meaningful conversation with a customer, or a customer tells me that their day was improved by their experience at Trilogy. Thankfully this happens often, and it keeps me going.
What does self care look like for you?
Self care looks like weekly therapy with Jen Convissor (who sees clients in our office here in the back of the shop!); cooking meals for myself; setting time limits when I work late; saying no; dancing by myself at home or in the shop when I'm not able to get out and dance with friends; making my basic needs a priority over the business, especially when I start to feel depleted or stretched too thin; quality time with my parakeet, Zeus, and friends who make me laugh; and most importantly, self care looks like not trying to escape my feelings when I need to confront them. That last one is the most difficult for me, but I'm working on it.
Lastly, what would you tell any women trying to start a business?
Don't second guess yourself. As early in the process as possible, meet and connect with other female business owners. Asking for help is a strength. Make your basic needs a priority so you don't get burnt out. This includes staying hydrated and making sure you get bathroom breaks. Sounds like a no-brainer but it can be difficult and I can tell you from experience it is worth the effort.
Through this interview with Heather I discovered how alike we are. I could relate to many of her answers as if they were coming from my brain. Labels and what we do for a living may make us different, but inside we are more connected than we think.
We hope she inspired you as much as she inspires us.
Photography: Drew Bordeaux of Silver Rush Media