One of the most amazing things that has come out of this sustainable journey is meeting so many creative and strong women through social media. One of these women being 27 year old Jenny Malton, the creator and founder of Jeneral Store. Since starting to follow her account on Instagram, I was immediately drawn to her pastel palette and her beautifully curated collection of vintage pieces combined with homemade accessories such as statement headbands and scrunchies. I have a chat with Jenny to find out about her love of vintage and embracing a unique sense style, the importance of continuing to educate and understand those who shop fast fashion and why she always choose secondhand.
Photos Courtesy of @jeneralstoreuk
What made you decide to set up Jeneral Store?
"I’ve thought about starting my own brand for years, but I didn't want to build another generic girly fashion brand. I wanted to start a new way of thinking, a movement that would benefit women just like me. Up until a year ago my wardrobe was growing at a rate that I couldn't control. I was constantly buying new but wearing items less. I wasn't proud of my purchases anymore, I was hiding brand new items with tags in the back of my wardrobe, buying stuff just because it was on sale. It was a fear of constantly needing new. I imagined many other women’s wardrobes looked like mine, but how could we showcase and share our style if we'd already worn it once on Instagram?"
"I had a breakthrough when I saw a gap in the market. I found there was a real lack of hand-picked second-hand fashion online. Vintage and thrift shops are great, but I felt they targeted a niche market that I (and quite a lot of other women) didn't fit into. I wanted to create a platform where women could have accessibility to distinctive, selective vintage and preloved fashion."
Where does your love of vintage stem from?
"I never dressed like the other kids, my wardrobe consisted of hand-me-downs from my older sister and items I’d began to pick out in charity shops. I got dumped in my teens for “dressing too much like a granny” my boyfriend said, when I turned up to a party in a vintage dogtooth suit. Totally unphased in my pencil skirt and massive shoulder pads, I shrugged it off because no boy could ever make me feel like I did in that suit; a million dollars."
What advice would you give to someone who is new to vintage shopping?
"Shop by colours, textures and shapes that catch your eye. Ignore labels or compositions and try on where you can. A lot of what I come across looks nothing on a hanger, but once you get it on and styled right it can look incredible."
Where do you see the future of fashion heading?
"I’m in two minds about this. Some days I believe we are on the tipping point of a big shift in the way people consider their impact on the fashion industry. Surely it’s only a matter of time before positive changes are made, it’s just going to take time to get there. But on the other hand, I know so many young girls obsessed with fast fashion that it makes me wanna cry. In all honestly I don’t think enough people care about where their clothes are made, or the condition the people making them are suffering in. The big retailers seem too powerful to be phased by a boycott. It’s a sad situation but hopefully by educating, sharing and consuming differently, we can make change."
What do you look for when you source for your store?
"I love anything with history and a story, and always try to think outside of the box when sourcing new product. The way I work is with contrasts of shape, texture and colour, so it’s really important to me that Jeneral Store stays looking hand-picked."
What inspires you creatively?
"Music is a big one for me. Anything 70s/80s is a work of art in my eyes. From the costumes in the music videos to the lyrics, there’s always something vibey constantly playing in the JS studio. The photographer Tim Walker has been a huge inspiration since I started studying fashion 10 years ago. The way his creativity and vision captures you is something that resonates with me on a level where it’s as though I’m right there in the world he’s created. He’s just magic. I Subscribe to The Good Trade, a sustainable lifestyle platform who send a daily soul boosting email of inspiring reads/recipes/podcasts – all sorts! I’d definitely recommend it."
How would you describe Jeneral Store’s aesthetic?
"Jeneral Store’s universe is a sugary mix, all defined by soft pastels in dreamy patterns and fabrics."
Why is secondhand sustainable clothing important to you?
"There’s SO much unused clothing and textile on this earth that I don’t understand why people still think we need more. It baffles me. Even if a brand new fabric could be produced with no impact on the worlds resources, I know I’d still turn to secondhand. There’s a beauty in creating something out of nothing and it feeds my creativity."
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to set up their own online shop?
"Be prepared to give it everything, and be ready to let it consume you. Especially in this day and age, you really need to be on it, dedicated with an intricate action plan. I had my first day off in four months the other day and as much as the time was nice to switch off, I just wanted to get back to it. This attitude to work goes a long way."
"You also need to give things time. I’m still struggling with wanting things to happen too quickly, but I think it’s important to understand that building a brand is a journey, and I’m still finding my feet. There’s been times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel, especially seeing others pop up with the same concept, but competition is encouraging, and I’m excited to see how my brand will grow and where it will take me."
What plans do you have in store next for Jeneral Store?
"I’ve got some exciting collaborations lined up! I’m also looking at extending the vintage product range, sourcing it is my favourite part of the job so I’m looking forward to visiting new places and hunting out some hidden gems. I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and inspiration so I’m working my way through a list of about 100 new projects! But I’m loving it, and that was the main personal reason as to why I wanted to start all this. Super cliché but I’m lucky enough to have been able to create a job where I love what I do, and a day at Jeneral Store is never dreaded."
Follow Jeneral Store on Instagram - @jeneralstoreuk
And check out their website - www.jeneralstore.co.uk
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