Inspirational Women: Angela Prior-Kimball
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Angela CR
Angela Prior-Kimball is truly The Queen of Vintage clothing with over thirty years in the industry.

During her career Kimball has earned a respectable reputation running a vintage shop in Miami Beach, supplying for films and TV shows such as Shadowlands(1993), Almost Famous(2000)Red Dragon(2002), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Dark Shadows(2012) and running two shops in Birmingham.

In Autumn 2014 Angela launched Heaven Vintage, inspired by on-trend pieces from yesteryear and featuring all kinds of high quality must have’s from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

 

Growing up
“I was always, always, always interested in vintage clothes! When I was little, I had a dressing up box which was full of old clothes from my grandma who was born in 1891, my mum who was born in the 1930s and my sister who was born in the 1950s.

“Later on, I went to university in Lancaster and spent all my time in vintage clothes shops. When it came to doing my finals I couldn’t actually move in the room to do any work so I started having sales in my room on a Thursday afternoon. I had advertised the sale quite well and when I opened the door, there was a huge queue going down the corridor and all the way down the stairs – I thought ooh this is good!

“Then the enterprise allowance scheme came up in 1985 where you were given a certain amount of money a week to start up a business – I think they still do it now and that’s how it all kicked off.”

Ambitions and achievements
“I’ve been doing vintage for 33 years and I’ve had shops in Coventry, Stratford, Birmingham, New York and Miami. We were quite famous when we were in Birmingham because there wasn’t anybody doing vintage back then; there were no vintage fairs or anything like that. More recently, some of my clothes have featured at the Clothes Show.

“Over the years I have gained a real knowledge of vintage clothes which has helped me to do good business.  My customers have become my friends and I am their personal shopper, I know their style. Sometimes I would say to my customers I knew you’d like that and they wouldn’t believe me! So I would write their names on the back of the tickets…I work on instinct, sometimes you just know what they want.”
Angela FR

“I’ve been doing vintage for 33 years and I’ve had shops in Coventry, Stratford, Birmingham, New York and Miami. We were quite famous when we were in Birmingham because there wasn’t anybody doing vintage back then…”

Tests and trials
“The industry has changed and there is a lot of competition. When I came back from America in 2005 it seemed like the whole world thought they were a vintage clothes dealer. A lot of people don’t actually realise how hard it is to do it properly.

“Things have become easier now because there are so many vintage wholesalers or kilo sales, sellers buy 50% rubbish and they don’t hand select clothes for their customers. Although there are a lot of vintage sellers around, there’s still a minority doing it properly. “You can tell the difference between someone who has hand selected every single item and someone who has just bought a bale, ripped it open and stuck it on hangers.

“As someone who hand picks their stock, it’s not easy; you have to put a lot of time and effort in. I’ve got people who I’ve been working with for thirty years, they are called pickers, I tell them what to get and they help me to find the stuff. I have gangs of people like that in America, England, Holland and France, I go and visit them and I will look through all the pieces.”

The future
“I’m currently based in Fargo Village in Coventry and I am looking to develop a hired department there so that photographers, people from TV and film and those who are going to posh fancy dress parties can come to me and hire out vintage pieces.

“There are so many people who want to do vintage but just don’t have the basic skills so I’m going to start up a vintage boot camp – that’s the next big thing for me.

“When I first started I had no idea that I would do the job for this long, and go all around the world buying and meeting people like Lenny Kravitz and Will.i.am. I would say to anyone who has an idea, is passionate and is willing to work really really really hard – if you love what you do, you should go for it!”

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