INTERVIEW: Get to know the ladies of It’s Vintage Darling, DC

Photos by Kimberly aka sondai. Please Support.

On January 1, 2011, It’s Vintage Darling made a home(coming) in Columbia Heights. Last week, I stopped by to check out the store and introduce CS readers to the three phenomenal women who run the show.

sim1ontharun: If you had to flee the country and you could only take one suitcase, what would go in it?

Kindall Hudgins, Store Owner: Jewelry first. Three pocketbooks. A pair of jeans, flip-flops, a pair of boots … That’s a hell of a question!

Style icons? Coco Chanel, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. They’re artists. (She sighs) Oscar de la Renta. Character, originality, exclusivity. Emilio Pucci.

Photographed with: Pocketbooks. Kindall began collecting pocketbooks over 20 years ago, long before she sold them.

Amira Hickim, Store Owner: My favorite pair of jeans, my favorite boots. A blazer, a sweater, a jacket, lipgloss. Bangles and bracelets. I think I could put an outfit together with just 10 key items by layering.

Style icons? Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel and Diane von Furstenburg.

Photographed with: Boots. At Eastern Market, they call her “The Boot Lady.” Amira started selling vintage clothing 16 years ago at the U Street Flea Market.

Gigi, Store Manager: Boots, maxi dress, my leopard Juicy bag, black leggings. Anything all-black. My jewelry.

Style icons? Isabella Blow, my main staple because of her distinctive taste and style, Kelis and Rachel Zoe.

Photographed with: Jewelry. But, she loves all things vintage. Kindall and Amira “adopted” Gigi at the flea market years ago. They saw her potential and knew she’d manage their store one day.

– – –

Gone are the “pumps and pearls” of the former “Copycat City” that was Washington, DC when  one of It’s Vintage Darling’s store owners, Kindall Hudgins, moved here in the late ‘90s. Says Kindall:

DC has changed drastically for the better. People have more identity now and they’re more comfortable being a little more free with their looks.

When you walk into the newly opened 14th street vintage boutique, It’s Vintage Darling, you might recognize hints of the Kitty Cat Boutique and Tina Baby Collections from DC’s Eastern Market stalls. Today, the bold and impressive trio behind It’s Vintage Darling walks the line. Whether in their roles as models strutting down the catwalk or proud business owners in a gentrifying neighborhood with one foot in the ‘hood and the other in Suburbia, these women know how to heed the advice of Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn: they “make it work.” One thing the store manager, Gigi, and the business owners, Amira Hakim and Kindall Hudgins, want you to know about their newly opened vintage clothing store is that every find is one of a kind. And they won’t let you leave this Columbia Heights style den in something your girlfriends would balk at. Hand-picked items line this light-filled fashionista’s living room. Here, you can be comfortable. Take your shoes off and get styled. For free. Oh, and ladies, if you bring your boo, he can watch the game with Amira’s dad (#truestory #thathappened).

When I mention the local restaurant/bar Social’s recent and highly mysterious closing, Amira responds:

The cut off is right here. When we first came to see the store and were riding up we were like, Please let it be one more block, please let it be one more block … But, when we got here, it was perfect. We walked in and the place was already vintage.

On the next block, as Amira says, “anything goes.” She grew up in the neighborhood and remembers it before the high rises went up. Her mom still lives here. But, one day, when Amira got out of the metro and saw the Target, she didn’t even  know which way to walk.

I’ve watched it change and it’s really, really nice. It’s been a long time coming. This neighborhood is changing and we’re really excited to change with the neighborhood. I think we got in at a good time.

The day they opened their doors, the ladies of IVD were still rearranging shoes and putting stuff into place. I asked her whether they picked the store location or if it chose her. “It picked me,” she said happily, adding:

It was the store, not the location. I never even thought about 14th Street. We built this. Me, Kendall, my dad, our friends … We added our little touches, but it was kind of already perfect.

It’s certainly hard to come here and not leave with something. The cherry wood built-in shelves, exposed brick walls and extra touches of class (like the 1940s radio Amira’s daddy snuck in to gift her the morning of the store’s opening) make It’s Vintage Darling the fashion home you’ve always dreamed of. It’s clear that the store owners remember ever piece they’ve ever sold as they recount to me, beaming, anecdote after anecdote about overjoyed buyers. They gave one male shopper the “new look for the new year” he sought (with old clothes of course) complete with suit, shirt, sweater and vest. One local guy who came in asking to be styled to go to the Black Cat was so excited with his new pair of shoes that he ran out of the store and left behind his old shoes.

Biggest requests this year? Fur hats and vests. Sorry, PETA. As spring approaches, look out for kid’s vintage, man bags, and other special events like trunk shows, hat and tea parties, and the store’s official grand opening in mid-March. With these thrift store girls for life’s families offering their unwavering support, I’m pretty sure Amira is right when she says:

We’ll make it because we have things you can’t leave behind.

What they may not realize yet is that the core values of the store owners–family, community, and the joy of living–transcend fashion and are just the type of originality and charm this neighborhood needs to counterbalance the mammoth corporations down the street. Everyone came together to make this cozy fashion utopia a huge success. Amira’s dad helped set up the shop and her kids passed out flyers. Kindall’s nephew sometimes works in store and her brother is always looking out for new store furniture, while Gigi’s grandmother’s mirror is propped up, ready to be mounted on the wall. The energy in IVD and harmonious relationships between its owners and managers is inspiring for all the #SmartChicks and guys out there. Amira, Kendall and Gigi told me the only thing missing is a store puppy. Now you know what to get them for their first birthday.

* * *


IVD is located at 3423 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010. Open Tuesday-Saturday, noon  to 7 p.m., but call ahead for store hours if you’re planning on stopping by: (202) 525-1327. Prices range from $30-$500. Average price is $35. With new merchandise in the store every day, the clothes are carefully selected at various locations such as estate sales and in Florida, New York, Massachusetts, and the DMV, among others. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, or e-mail for more information.