My name is Angela Azure. My Etsy shop is BlueSugarVintage. My husband Tom and I have been thrifting together for twenty three years. I collect Enid Collins purses and typewriters. Tom has an expertly focused vinyl record collection. He has an Etsy shop too. AtomicFrostedBombs offers records, music and pulp fiction.
I want my shop, BlueSugarVintage, to convey a penchant for eclecticism, light-heartedness, and amusement without pretension. That’s my goal. When people visit my shop, I just want them to be energized with color, kitsch and playful verve. BlueSugarVintage is somewhat designed to look like a penny candy store. I want my customers to remember what it feels like to be a road weary kid on a boring car trip, when all of a sudden your parents pull up to a this roadside tourist candy shop, with all those barrels full of colorful cellophane wrapped sugar. You know, basically the best day in the life of a kid.
1. Why vintage?
I love it and always will. Hunting for quality vintage is thrilling. Finding it releases dopamine. Sometimes spotting a great piece of vintage can be euphoric. This, I believe, is called addiction!
I grew up in Southern California. My Etsy shop is full of the typical ordinary housewares and décor items that I saw on a daily basis growing up, especially the mod minimalist pieces. I am thankful that I got to see a lot of the minimalist design trend first hand. Orange shag carpet, chromed space age lamps, ultra generic minimalist black and white typography, drug culture influenced op and poster art, fiberglass tulip chairs, Twiggy, Brit mod rockers …
I have four older sisters, and my mother was born in 1920, so, as a youth, I had influences that went well beyond my years. That has been quite helpful. For instance, when I was seven, my sisters decked my bedroom out with Peter Max window treatments and wall art. My sisters also brought home all the great rock albums of the era. I stared at length at a lot of album cover art when I was a kid – Abbey Road, the Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed, Led Zepplin I, Janis Joplin’s Pearl, The Mamas & the Papa’s California Dreamin’, the Velvet Underground and Nico with the Warhol Banana cover. I had my own collection, which of course included all The Partridge Family and Chipmunks records.
When I was in my twenties, I lived in Hollywood, California. At the time, in the 1980s, mid-century modern was king. I bought what I could afford, which wasn’t much – Fiesta Ware mostly, which I still have. My love of mid-century modern and atomic was more heavily influenced by my time in Hollywood. Mid mod was all back again big time. Revival and original 1950s diners, exquisite retro clothing, and rockabilly were hugely on trend.
The rockabilly kids back then were the greatest stylists, and purists, of all time, in my opinion. Though, I wasn’t around during the zoo suit era! I remember driving my Volkswagen, and next to me, was a young rockabilly couple travelling down Hollywood Boulevard in a pink convertible Cadillac with fins. It was 5am in the morning. The sun was barely up. The sky was a monochromatic grey, and all the neon signs were still glowing. The young man driving the caddy was sporting a perfect slicked back, side parted, pompadour; and a sweet retro bowling shirt. His arm was lackadaisically draped around his bouffant haired girlfriend (a very tall, messy, dyed black, ratted bouffant). She was wearing cat eye glasses and a delicate little cardigan sweater. I could not stop staring. It was such a perfect authentic vintage moment; it really could have been 1955. Come to think of it, maybe that guy was Dave Alvin from The Blasters!
Eventually, I moved to Bozeman, MT seeking a quieter lifestyle. My Volkswagen transported my barest necessities: a coffee press, a down puffy coat, a typewriter, and a boombox. Right off the bat I was able to procure unbelievable mid mod décor and furniture from the local thrift stores for prices you would not believe. The possessions I longed for, but could not afford, in Hollywood materialized in Montana for pennies on the dollar. It was a great time for thrifting and bargains. On trash night, a couple new friends and I would cruise the residential allies and pick up even more great scores –an atomic gooseneck floor lamp, a bag of old pressed metal toys, a stereo/turntable console, a 1950s wire Eames style chair ... Wow, what a blast!
My apartment was like a mini retro museum. I had a working, very heavy, black Stromberg Carlson rotary phone from the 1930s. One time, I was lying in bed talking on that phone, and I dropped the handset on my brow bone. Ouch! I still have dreams about that Bozeman apartment (built in 1901, all original). I really do miss it. Most of my vintage collection from that time is all gone now. Though, I do have to admit Montana has never really had the really high end designer vintage – Heywood Wakefield dining sets yes, but authentic Henry Miller or Charles Eames pieces, well, that’s a bit rare in this humble locale.
2. Who has influenced you the most and why?
1980s hipsters, no doubt - the precursor generation to grunge and indie rock. The people I hung around listened to bands like Minutemen, REM, Husker Du, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Gun Club, The Cure, Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo and the Bunnymen, Big Black, X, etc. I could go on and on with bands. This era was a wide open landscape with no email or mp3s. We had push button phones and bootleg tape cassettes. Chuck Taylors were de rigueur. The musicians, artists and trendsetters of this generation produced the inspiration and welcome mat for bands like Nirvana, the grunge scene, and all current indie and alt rock bands. Yet, we still wrote each other letters put in envelopes with stamps you had to lick. It all sounds so ancient!
Thrift store clothes, bargain basement finds, collage cut-out art, graffiti art, punk rock DIY posters, retro cars, hanging out at cheap diners/ coffee shops, underground film, Dr. Martens … All of this, was born out of the 80s underground rock scene, which was influenced heavily by the Beat Generation, 50s hipsters, and French New Wave. There were no Starbucks back then.
My hipster friends, this coming-of-age era, those post 70s retro trends, and underground punk, post punk, and indie music, has always been my biggest influence. The combination of artistic people, rock and roll, and thrifty living can truly create some fabulous atmospheres. Embellished with all the influential literature and film that goes along with this prescription, magic can happen.
One of the cursory obligations any collector or creative artist should undertake is to discover the history that is coloring their world, and pay homage to precedent. I didn’t wake up one day when I was eighteen and randomly decide to go hang out in a street side cafe, read Ginsberg’s Howl, smoke Galouises, and try to look cool. This behavior was already way-past-expiration-date cool. I was just a copycat, most definitely born too late. We are all copy cats in one regard or another. It can’t be helped.
Many of my influences are embarrassingly common ... movies like Harold and Maude, designers like Charles Eames, novels by Kerouac, style icons like Marilyn Monroe, Nancy Sinatra in her Stivali boots, San Francisco psychedelic rock, sculpture by Noguchi and Moore, paintings by Picasso and Warhol, even the lowest American popular culture common denominator … the Brady Bunch!
Vintage is, of course, internationally popular. People often think of vintage aficionados as fringe anachronists or brazen oddballs clad in attention getting Leave it to Beaver costumes. We are, I think, perhaps the least unique people on the planet. We basically borrow all our style from our grandparents. That just does not sound innovative in any way. However, we are also doggedly stubborn, hotly competitive, and ridiculously informed in the pursuit of our precious collections.
My love of vintage is a way to preserve the everyday past and honor generic popular culture. After all, we will probably never see an avocado green jacquard bath towel or Lucite cluster of turquoise grapes in a museum. Someone needs to be the keeper of the popular, but un-extraordinary. Perhaps my biggest influence is being a sentimental sap and a cheapskate!
3. How did you come up with your shop´s image // what inspired you?
Honestly, I am not really sure. I like stark minimalism. I think my photos convey that appreciation. My husband is a graphic designer, so he taught me about the wonders of photo editing, balancing contrast, fixing the color, brightness, hue, etc… My shop’s image is still evolving. Right now I have a rustic, run down, industrial warehouse ambience going. Yet, as always, I am ready to change it. One thing I know for sure, I love bold color, major contrast, and I consistently employ a “less is more” sensibility.
My Etsy shop banner was done in just a few minutes using Pic Monkey! I love the theater marquee lights quality of the font and think it is reminiscent of the title design for the movie Cabaret. A little Bob Fosse for the kids.
The name BlueSugar harkens to the color and quality of candy and soda that is preposterous and fun, but not something that is necessarily healthy to eat. A dirty little secret. Like those Skittles you hide from your co-workers. The Skittles you eat …every day…after lunch. Sugar is bad. Blue sugar is possibly the crack cocaine of sugar. It is transparent and blatant. Blue sugar doesn’t even try to disguise itself as something good for you. A bad habit, that is seemingly as innocent as a Smurf or My Little Pony. It is the cotton candy of life - sweet, fluffy, fleeting, and gone in a flash; leaving you with the urge to consume more. Is that too much information? Yes, it is.
I know my shop’s image is curated, however, I cannot explain how I do this. I just know that when I am hunting for vintage, I actually pass over a lot of quality items - really worthy items, that just don’t belong in my store. So, I am constantly curating my shop, picking what I think will meld well. Interestingly, I tend to pick items I want to photograph, even if that means buying a plastic ice cream scoop. If I come home with something tricky to photograph, that item usually sits around gathering dust. I have a lot of Polaroid cameras, vintage dinnerware, and retro tea towels sitting around gathering dust.
4. lf you could live in any century which would you choose and why?
I like modern medicine, paved streets, a lack of the Bubonic plague, the right to vote, safe birth control, clean water, the absence of work houses, not wearing a corset, the Emancipation Proclamation, travel by air, the internet, Netflix, and the availability of comfortable shoes. In other words, I love history and I am grateful to not be part of it …yet.
However, with respect to the question, I would certainly carefully consider being a member of the titled landed nobility of the Edwardian period in the United Kingdom, especially if it included a massive country estate and astounding social mobility. Yet, somehow still, I can’t seem to get the words Emancipation Proclamation out of my head. I guess I choose the 21st century.
5. What is it about etsy?
Etsy allowed me to quit an exhausting, unrewarding day job to pursue a hobby and employment that I deeply enjoy. I have been on Etsy for one year now. I like that Etsy is classy – not just an auction house where people can list yesterday’s prom dress or a case of kitty litter. I am honored to be part of the Etsy community. Every day I am blown away by someone’s shop; their product and aestheticism. I am consistently awed by the talent of crafters, artists, tradespeople, upcyclers, and Etsy upstarts in general.
There is some devastating creative genius on Etsy. I am just very appreciative that my little vintage shop is in there among the giants. One day I would like to have a more professional image, a better photo studio, and the focus to offer something handmade. That opportunity is real and approachable with Etsy. My path has just begun. For the first time in a very long time I feel there is growth potential for me. Being my own boss has allowed me to experience the most non-oppressive and abuse-free work environment of my life! Finally.
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