Many 50-plussers are redefining retirement. Researchers are finding that more and more people in their so-called “retirement years” (those age 50 and over) are planning to work in some way. A recent national work trends survey finds that nearly 7 in 10 workers plan full or part-time jobs for pay following retirement from their main job, 14% will volunteer, while just 13% expect to stop working entirely. What most retirees who decide to join the workforce again are looking for is flexibility, enjoyment, working for meaning, a short commute, and a suitable work/life balance.

Vivian Hill (pictured), 60, retired from a career as an educator. Even though she spent 28 years in her profession, she always secretly longed for a kind of career pivot. Upon retiring, Vivian made the decision to follow her heart which led her to vintage clothing. An interest in vintage clothing has swelled over recent years. Folks who buy these yesteryear finds swear they’re better made than items that are manufactured today. Many vintage pieces are one-of-a-kind and seem to catch the eye of those who don’t want to blend in.   Hill searches everywhere for her unique offerings and leaves no stone unturned until she strikes gold. Sadly there is some resistance from the Black community with regards to vintage fashions.

Some view vintage items as cast-offs and are not willing to explore the distinctiveness/versatility these clothing items can bring to the table.

Vivian shares her love for vintage with 50BOLD. She explains how the clothing is open to interpretation and is often up for trial and error. It is a desired look you can make into your own with limitless possibilities that anyone can pull off with confidence.

50BOLD: You are retired from what profession?

Vivian: In 2013, I retired with love from the most phenomenal career a person of my background and spirit could have retired from, teaching. For 28 years, I worked with and for young people from the inner cities of Queens and Brooklyn and my skill sets ran the gamut–health resource coordinator, health educator, English and history teacher, coordinator of student activities, assistant principal, Principal, adjunct professor and a supervisor of adult education.

50BOLD: What made you seek a retirement job for part two of your life and how did it all come together? 

Vivian: I used clothing to promote confidence, attitude, authenticity, and love. The transition from educator to vintage clothier and image empowerment consultant was organic and smooth. My sorority Delta Sigma Theta Inc., Nassau Chapter had a fundraiser for their scholarship committee, ‘Buy a Table, Sell Clothing.’ It was so funny looking back at the things I borrowed like racks, a table and voila, I made about $15-20 and I loved the feeling.

Next, I made the decision to attend LIC Flea & Food in Long Island City, New York which is an outdoor rain or shine flea/food market. Little by little, I began to sharpen my curating skills, becoming familiar with the business of fashion and the art of marketing. As I studied, people were motivating me to become certified in Creative Enterprise Ownership and Image Consulting. The challenges of stepping out on a ledge into a business without having any knowledge about it was a little scary but I forged on anyway and created a business plan.  I studied and research more about the business of vintage clothing. All of my studying paid off as I soon became an International Curator of Vintage Clothing which gave me carte blanche to travel all around the world and gain unprecedented access to the treasure troves of this kind of fashion world.

50BOLD: What kinds of obstacles did you face when you decided on your second career?

Vivian: The greatest challenges I face as a vintage clothing curator comes down to all of the exhausting work that goes into preparing for a show. Its the hours of curating, how much was it purchased for, the tagging, the storing, the cleaning, the bringing back and forth to shows, all of this can take a toll but I have such dedication and commitment to what I do, I simply manage it all. No pain, no gain is my credo!

50BOLD: What is it about your second career choice that puts a smile on your face?

Vivian: I want to dismantle the negativity that surrounds vintage clothing, especially in the Black community. There are so many misconceptions about vintage clothing such as, the fashions only fit skinny folks which is certainly not true, or the items are unclean. All of my items are thoroughly cleaned and well-maintained. I curate a legacy line which means that the pieces actually come from people I know, who would like to continue to celebrate their loved ones through the items they pass on to me. The items are offered to clients with a tradition of storytelling and they are oftentimes, received with pure awe and excitement. I actually get joyful when I see the happy reactions of my clients, especially those who had qualms about vintage clothing. When folks see my offerings, pieces that transcend all eras, and listen to the stories that accompany them, they just love it, this puts a HUGE smile on my face!

50BOLD: What exactly does the term ‘vintage’ mean?

Vivian: The term “vintage” is used to describe clothing between 20 and 100 years old that is also clearly representative of the era in which it was produced. As I previously mentioned, vintage clothing comes in various sizes and there are accessories as well–furs, gloves, coats, jewelry and other items. The clothing items can go from high to low, from haute couture or quality mainstream fashion labels; it can be used, new, manufactured and handmade. Vintage celebrates a workmanship that continues to live on, an authenticity, creativity. It tells a story, it helps folks to remember a time in life, a book, a movie.

50BOLD: What would you tell those folks who are curious about vintage clothing but have not actually taken the steps to seek out items?

Vivian:   If you are attracted to a particular era, shop the look at places that have the word ‘vintage’ in their name. Try not to mix too many bygone era items together in one look. Before you buy, try the item on for size to make sure it fits.

Follow Vivian Hill on Instagram @Ladyv.sta, or on Etsy to view her collection of vintage treasures….