My name is Anna Rowland and I am the curator behind The Vintage Parlor – an old fashioned collection of vintage home decor and accessories. My studio is tucked away above a bicycle shop in historic downtown Santa Barbara, California, amidst the hustle and bustle of artists, shop owners, and coastal natives.
I’m quite nostalgic and love to daydream of the times of yesteryear. Growing up, my mom frequently took me to antique shops and was always regaling us with tales about the items in our home. I caught the thrifting bug in middle school, and have been doing it religiously ever since. After attending The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and graduating with a degree in visual communications, I worked in a slew of various creative roles at different companies. When I started my shop in 2010, I combined these interests with my background in photography and merchandising, and found myself quickly immersed in the Etsy lifestyle. For the first time, I can honestly say that I love my job! The mystery of what I may find next keeps things exciting and keeps my heart devoted to this craft.
My shop houses an array of curious antiquities which have traveled far and wide, through big cities and small towns, all sourced locally from second hand shops or dusty attics. I enjoy telling the stories and secrets of our ancestors through series of carefully selected objects that carry the history and traditions of a simpler time. Using dark rustic backdrops and props from the past, I photograph each piece in natural light and search for charming new owners around the world.
I love discovering family heirlooms that tell a story. Every time I find an item that gives clues about its original life – be it a handwritten inscription or signs of beautiful decay – I get goosebumps. I love that I get to bring everything home with me, even just for a moment, then send it on its way to be cherished by another person often far far away across the land and sea.
One particular piece I had a tough time giving up was a really lovely glass cloche that housed a delicate terrarium of dried moss and tiny deer figurines. It was so magical and had been carefully made by hand. Another item I loved dearly was a beautiful gold jewelry casket with a beveled glass top. It was lined with velvet and I found a handwritten note inside. It felt as if it still had some sort of spirit still attached to it.
Etsy has given me a huge amount of freedom to follow the road less traveled and to do something that supports a sustainable way of life. Since I opened my shop, I’ve been able to quit my day job in retail. I feel more at home surrounded by this down-to-earth, honest, and talented group of individuals at Etsy. The online community here has always been so welcoming, and it feels amazing to be accepted for who I really am. I’ve met some wonderfully unique people along the way and I still smile each and every time I get a sale.
I also have two other Etsy shops. At The Parlor Apothecary, I sell my handmade apothecary line (lip balm lockets and message in a bottle necklaces), and I sell men’s vintage accessories at The Vintage Parlor For Men. I also create upcycled decor such as magnetic chalkboards fashioned out of old metal trays and altered teacups that I paint by hand.
Being empowered as both an artist and an entrepreneur has allowed me to incorporate all of my talents into one perfect job. Every day running my shop is different; I get to wear many hats. Monday I might be a vintage buyer, Tuesday I might be a photographer. Wednesday finds me designing graphics, and by Friday I’m in charge of packaging and shipment. I am no longer at the mercy of a punch clock. I get out of bed when I want, often work in my pajamas while sipping tea, and am able to spend my time creating and unearthing new items for my shops daily. I feel truer to myself than ever.
All photographs by The Vintage Parlor.