Photos By Nolan P. Schmidt
There is something about vintage clothing. Maybe it’s the smell, maybe it’s the retro feel or maybe it’s learning the history of a garment, but vintage clothing always seems to bring smiles to faces. Whether in a moment of nostalgia or overall happiness, the environment seems to bring out the best in us.
Courtney Schur has known that fact for a long time. Schur has always had a passion for vintage clothing, claiming she fell in love with the history attached to each article of clothing. Initially collecting vintage costumes, Schur began renting out her collection to local artists and photographers. From there, her business, Carmine & Hayworth, was born.
Since its inception in 2018, Carmine & Hayworth has become more than a rental space. Schur has opened up a retail space right on Main Avenue in Fargo. The goal? To create a safe space for everyone.
Carmine & Hayworth will continue to flourish because you cannot help but be happy when stepping inside. What is more impressive is Schur’s passion for serving her customers and giving them a space to enjoy.
How did you turn this idea into a rental service and then a full retail store?
Like a lot of vintage shops, I started off collecting and my biggest passion was actually collecting vintage costumes. From there, I thought: ‘well, I don’t just want to hoard them, and keep them hidden away’. I started loaning them out to photographers, but I also do costume studies so other makers can look at the pieces and reproduce them. I wanted to make this my life and my full-time job. I just started as a rental shop and decided to meld the two.
Where did your love for vintage clothing come from?
I love history. I know there’s a huge conversation about just being more conscious of what you’re buying, but it goes beyond that. I love knowing where each piece came from and that it had a whole other life before we even existed. A lot of these pieces are older than us and will outlive us. Knowing where they came from and what every little detail of it was attached to, I think is something really exciting to pass on to my customers. Now, they know not only what they’re wearing, but whom it came from.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in making this transition to a retail store?
In this area, being a vintage store, it’s a very niche business. It was really refocusing and kind of bringing everything that excites me into one place. There is vintage, obviously, but then other artists, other female businesses that really had products that evoke some kind of emotion. When I am looking at products, I just want to look at it and it makes me happy and it makes me forget about everything around me. That’s kind of what we’ve tried to build here. As you walk in, it’s bright, happy and distracting. That’s really what we aim to do.
How did local makers and local woman business owners get integrated into your inventory?
It actually has been something that we’ve had since we started as renters only when we first started in 2018. We carried one female-made brand and it was a line of perfume oils that we got from a friend in Los Angeles. Those are really popular and I saw that people were really connecting with the maker’s story and why I chose to put her in my shop. That got me really excited and I just wanted to keep filling my store with women that I believed in, but also believed in me.
When I first started, it was hard to get vendors to want to work with me, because I have no proof of concept. There were those who were on board too and that was the most amazing thing. I think that sense of community is something that’s helped my business, especially in the pandemic. Relying on other artists, makers, businesses and just working together instead of against each other.
What have been some of the biggest rewards throughout this entire Carmine & Hayworth journey?
I have young girls, young men and those who are older that come in here. They get a sense of relief when they come in here and see that this is a place that understands them. We love everyone and we want everyone to come here and feel like they have a safe place where they are accepted. It was that place that I wish I had when I was younger and I just want everybody coming in to know that they’re an integral part of this business. It’s because of them that businesses like this survive. To let them know that they matter is everything.
Would you have any advice for your former self? Or maybe some advice to a future woman business owner?
I would say, don’t be afraid to be disliked. You’re not gonna please everybody, and you’re gonna crack some eggs along the way. To stand firm on what you believe in as a business owner and even as a person is vital. It’s important that you know your message and portray that message in the right way.
How can the Fargo- Moorhead-West Fargo community help Carmine & Hayworth?
I think now more than ever, it’s giving alternatives to customers. I want people to know that you don’t have to come in and spend a lot of money. I would say to do the “free things” like sharing our social media posts and whatnot because social media is expensive. A lot of businesses can’t afford to pay for ads so the best way is to just engage.
Word of mouth is huge. Even just coming in and saying hi is incredible. I don’t think people understand just how much that helps a business.
Carmine & Hayworth Vintage
616 Main Avenue, Fargo