Some kids hide in clothing racks while their mothers shuffle them from department store to department store. But for Brandy Tezak, owner of Retromended Vintage, she remembers endless car rides lurking curbs with her stepmom, an interior designer known to stop the car not to quiet the kids but instead to refurbish furniture she spied hunting and pecking Orlando’s streets before Craigslist curb alerts were a thing. She also remembers fondly thrifting on Sundays after church with her grandma. This nostalgia is likely why she later became addicted to estate sales and eventually quit her job to open her own vintage shop in Ivanhoe Village in 2012.
“I handpick everything in the store, so I’m out there finding stuff,” Tezak says. “Initially, I used to do exclusively estate sales, and that was kind of my thing. I would just work my normal job, and I would get up at the crack of dawn and go hit the estate sales before work, and then go on my lunch break to the next one. So I was just, like, obsessed. I just really loved it. So I would do it every week. That’s when I really started getting a lot more inventory and thinking, ‘I should just sell this online. Why not?’”
That online shop eventually came to reality as Retromended, although Tezak credits social networks like Instagram and Facebook for helping her attract customers to the tucked-away location across from Lake Ivanhoe. She uses the courtyard in front of her shop for trunk sales, tea parties and other adorable events that draw new crowds to her vintage collection, as well as the original designs by local designer Tammy Jo (who uses vintage fabrics in her garments), leatherwork by the Vardo Leathers and the vinyl she stocks in the store.
Now three years into running her own business, Tezak says it’s not exactly how she imagined it would be – she originally daydreamed she’d be sitting all day in the shop mending striking vintage garments with her personal sewing machine – but the bustle of unexpected opportunities, like recently styling Varietease’s Carnies for their show at the Abbey, are more rewarding than the somewhat snooze-y career she left to pursue the shop.
“I had a bunch of big things happen in life all in a row,” Tezak says. “I just had some big moments that made me reevaluate where I want to be and what I want to do and how I want to spend my time. So I just was like, ‘I love this. Why can’t I make it a career?’ I love styling somebody for their event and making them feel wonderful and look beautiful. I just really love it. So I decided, whatever, I’m going to quit my job. I was working in finance, and I did that for 10 years.”
It’s a brave about-face, but as the shop continues to grow and she renews her attention to the online shop to expand her clientele, Retromended’s reach appears to broaden in both directions – propelling the store toward a successful future based on the loving attention Tezak gives to treasures from the past.
“It’s funny how things kind of line up perfectly, and you don’t even know,” Tezak says. “It was always a passion of mine, and it was like a hobby, thrifting and finding amazing stuff. It was just kind of something I did, but I never thought of it like a job job. And then I worked in business and got a degree in business, and then I was still doing it, and suddenly I was like, ‘Man. I’m gonna do what I love.’”