|Dress (Four Eyed Girl on Etsy); Cardigan (ModCloth); Sunglasses (Kate Spade); Boots (Tommy Hilfiger)|
I can't lie. Even though supporting local and small business owners is important to me, I'm a frequent internet shopper. I live in the boonies an hour outside the city, so shopping for staples in the comfort of my own computer screen (and often my pajamas) is a blessing for a busy schedule (thank goodness for Amazon Prime). But buying online doesn't mean I can't still "shop small" and, in fact, some of the most unique items in my wardrobe have come from independent artisans I would never have discovered but for the wonder of the World Wide Web.
Hands down, one of my favorite online sites is Etsy, a virtual marketplace that features handcrafted and vintage items from small business owners and makers around the globe. From a favorite, handmade hat designed by a milliner in Estonia to custom cufflinks from Kansas, Etsy is an endless online art fair. Of course, buying an item (especially a garment that may or may not fit) from small businesses and individuals takes a certain amount of trust, and Etsy's rigorous customer feedback feature is super helpful in that regard.
One of my favorite Etsy shops is Four Eyed Girl. The shop's owner, designer, and master seamstress Ashley Kopera is one of the friendliest online merchants I've ever (virtually) met. More importantly, she makes a mean dress! I discovered Four Eyed Girl in July, when I fell in love with Ashley's version of a 1950s fit and flare style in an "Exploding Tardis" pattern. The science fiction lover in me couldn't resist the (subtle) Dr. Who themed design, so I took a chance even though I was a bit nervous about ordering a made to measure dress without the opportunity for an in-person fitting.
If you saw my post about that dress, you won't be surprised to learn that I've since ordered three more custom dresses from Four Eyed Girl, including this one featuring a favorite but somewhat hard to come by Alexander Henry fabric called "The Great Outdoors." My Mom made some pjs for me in a flannel version of this fabric (which I scored on eBay) several years ago, and when I asked Ashley to find the cotton poplin version of the same fabric for the dress, she delivered in record time. As with my first purchase from Four Eyed Girl, this dress fit like a dream, and Ashley was even able to match the pattern at the seam up the back of the bodice, a hallmark of master craftsmanship. I've lost track of the number of people who've asked where I found such a unique dress, which is what happens when you "shop small" whether in person or online!
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