Auntie Bellum talks with Florida-native and current city slicker Maegan Hayward, in the first of a series of interviews with Southern women about their dreams and adventures outside of the South.
When did you move to New York? Why leave Florida?
Moved to NYC in Oct 2004. So, almost 11 years in the Big Apple! I grew up in Florida and just needed a change. Every time I would visit NY I never wanted to leave. So, way later than planned (was not easy to get my butt out of Florida). I finally took the plunge and made the move all by myself!
What all have you been up to there?
I started working at a post-production sound facility/recording studio called Soundtrack the day I moved to NYC and have been there ever since. We do audio post for all things music, advertising, film, and TV and have worked on everything from Coldplay to all of Scorsese’s films from the last 15 years, to TV shows like Bored to Death and Boardwalk Empire. But my passion has always been vintage clothes and furniture, music, and all things pop culture. Collecting items from the past is something I started doing at a very young age. As a kid, my Dad took me to thrift stores, flea markets and even trash piles to find the coolest stuff.
Was it tough to make it?
NYC is a tough town. That said, I feel like if you want to make it here and you belong here things always seem to work out. You might have to work hard for them to work out but eventually stuff just always seems to fall into place.
Was there a goal from the beginning? What was it? Has it stayed the same?
Really the goal was just to be able to live in NYC and pay the bills. But, my dream goal from the beginning was to open a vintage store and visit Florida to see family and friends every few months and re-stock on goods. Florida has always been the thrifting mecca and I wanted to be able to get items from Florida and bring them to NYC for reasonable prices as the vintage in NYC is usually so insanely expensive. When I got here I quickly realized that renting/owning a brick-and-mortar store would not be feasible at all. The rents were just too damn high (and the items in the store would be too expensive)! So, I stayed at Soundtrack and worked my way up to C.O.O. About 2 years ago I got the bug and motivation again to get back on the vintage train. I started my website Red’s Vintage Threads and although that was super fun and reignited my need to be out there doing something creative with my vintage addiction, it still wasn’t the same as owning an actual, physical store. So, I started selling at markets in the area, as that was the only way to really make it work (Bust Magazine events, Artists & Fleas, etc.). After being at the markets for a while, I had a thought that I could bring together some people from these markets that were running the same types of shops to start a store. As a collective maybe we could all achieve that dream of having our own store and still pay our bills!
Did you miss Florida?
It didn’t take me long to miss Florida. It wasn’t easy to be away from friends and family. But I really needed to be away in order to realize what I had there. I have to get back pretty regularly to get my FL fix. Tampa in particular is filled with so many amazing people and so much more arts and culture than so many other towns in this country. And the beaches, I thought all beaches on the east coast were just as pretty as the gulf beaches. Boy, was I wrong!
Is there a Southern stigma in New York? Florida stigma?
I don’t think that there is a Southern or Florida stigma. It’s really interesting here though. There are SO many people here from Florida and the South in general. I have especially noticed a huge number of folks from South FL and North Carolina.
Culturally, are there Southern influences there?
I don’t see many Southern influences here. However, I’m used to watching NYC go through phases of what’s hip. There are always different trends with clothes, food, drink, etc. When I moved here the trend was mojitos, then it was farm to table (still is) and then it became BBQ. Even though I am a vegetarian and have been most of my life, I know there is no way NY can make a plate of BBQ like the south does. And paying $20 for a plate of sub par BBQ is completely blasphemous. So, as much as NY gets it right with so many things there are some things they just can’t replicate!
Generally speaking, how have things changed since you moved there?
My life has totally changed since I have moved to NY. Life is much more fast paced. I’ve met people from all over the world that have enriched my life in so many ways. I’ve learned so many life lessons that I wouldn’t have learned had I not been in this environment and have been able to step back and learn more about myself and my days in Florida than I ever would have had I stayed there.
Finally, tell me all about your new store. When did you start the online incarnation, when did you open the doors to the brick and mortar store, and what are the expectations? How do you set yourself apart? How are you making it work? What are some of the major obstacles? What’s the best part of this new venture?
Started the online incarnation (Red’s Vintage Threads) around 2 years ago. The doors opened at the brick and mortar location (East Village Vintage Collective) on August 1st. There are 3 owners: myself, Claire Marston (Eco in Disguise), & Melanie On (Rad Vintage Shop). We also have guest vendors in each week that set up shop so that we can keep the stock in the store really fresh. I think what makes us different is that we are a collective. So, there are all different styles and ideas. We are all chipping in to run the store and make it work. It’s a ton to keep up with especially since right now we are all working at our other jobs in order to keep the bills paid. But, the hope is that eventually we’ll all be able to be at the store or be working on the store and our online sites full time. The best part of this new venture is that we are all doing what we are passionate about while also bringing some fun back to the East Village. Vintage and record stores used to be everywhere and now they are difficult to come by. I live in the neighborhood and have watched it change so much over the years. It feels good to become a stronger part of the community. We are also having events to try to bring people together like Manic Monday 80’s movie night, music events, etc. in our back basement room.
“I’ve Been Everywhere” is a series of interviews with women who have left the South. Maegan’s our first.
“I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Travel, I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere”
– Johnny Cash