I was a talk show producer for several national shows before I launched Swoon Talent, a broadcast talent company for lifestyle experts and hosts. My one regret is that I wish I had started my business five years earlier. But second careers aren’t common for producers working long hours on television shows. Alyson DiFranco, a former co-worker of mine and Senior Producer for Steve Harvey’s talk show is breaking the norm. Alyson has added a second job to her resume. Along with her sister April, she’s the co-owner of a vintage clothing business.
Read about another dear friend, a CBS executive who’s side hustle is in home construction turned Airbnbs. https://www.swoontalent.com/hollywood-tv-executive-sexy-glam-getaway/
But why fashion from the past? The DiFranco sisters have had an appreciation of vintage clothing since they were little girls. Their mother and grandmother who were fashionistas inspired them to love clothing from the 40s, 50s, 60s 70s, 80s and 90s.
Already weekend flea market treasure hunters, it only seemed fitting that they take their extensive, gorgeous collection of vintage clothing and parlay it into a business called Decadented. Instead of just shopping flea markets, the two are now selling their goodies at spots like the iconic Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California.
I spoke to Alyson and April about their hobby turned business.
I also had to ask Alyson a few questions about working on Steve Harvey.
Donna: FIVE TOP WAYS TO HUNT FOR RETRO CLOTHING?
April + Alyson:
- Travel: April travels all over the United States to meet with major retailers. She’s collected pieces from Minneapolis, Detroit, Boulder, Dallas, and most recently Sicily, Italy.
- Donation: Friends have come out of the woodwork to donate their designer vintage pieces.
- Thrifting: thrift stores, estate sales, Salvation Army, Goodwill
- Wardrobe and set design sales from Hollywood studios
- Online: eBay and old fashion department store liquidation sales
Donna: WHAT’S A KEEP? WHAT’S A PASS?
April: A keep is something that we both agree is cool and on brand. A pass is something that needs too much repair, is too expensive to source and make a profit on, something similar to what we already have or something we tried to sell before but wasn’t well received.
Alyson: A pass for me is what everyone else is selling. There are 1000 vendors selling concert t-shirts and old Wrangler jeans. I love those things, but I just don’t feel the need to jump on the bandwagon. I want to standout.
Donna: TIPS FOR BUYING RETRO?
Alyson + April:
- Use your imagination and be open-minded about a pattern, a fit, or a size that isn’t the typical item you always buy. We want our customers to tap into the daring and rock it!
- Only buy things that you feel comfortable in. The material has to feel right against your skin and the fit has to feel lived in and comfortable. It has to feel like it was designed for you and that you MUST take it home.
- Vintage items are one of a kind. So, if you like something grab it or it will be gone!
Donna: VINTAGE CLOTHING TRENDS BACK IN STYLE?
April + Alyson:
1990s big time! Floral prints, grungy boots, giant platform shoes and boots, crop tops, clothes with cut outs, lingerie like slip dresses, high top sneakers, Champion sweats, mirrored sunglasses, animal print and high waisted jeans.
Donna: WAYS TO WEAR VINTAGE WITH CONTEMPORARY?
April: Fashion is always inspired by vintage, so it’s fun to look at the trends on the runway or magazines. Go vintage shopping with a specific item in mind, an animal print, a dreamy prairie dress, plaid or 80s rushing. It’s fun to mix a vintage piece with a brand new pair of mules. Or maybe you splurged on jeans from Barney’s that fit like a glove, but the floral blouse you wear with them is vintage. We like to mix high with low, designer with vintage, like a 1950s hoop skirt with an 80s crop top. Nothing too matchy-matchy or costumy!
Alyson: I recommend getting a statement piece that’s vintage like a bold jacket, a hat, a pair of high waisted trousers and then mixing and matching with modern, trendy items both high and low-end. The mistake people make sometimes is they think vintage means costume. The secret to wearing vintage fashion is not to replicate a decade from head to toe, just add trendy touches to vintage pieces.
Donna: FINDS YOU’LL NEVER SELL?
Alyson: I was recently in a tiny beach town in Northern California and found a $35 reversible trench coat by the French designer Andre Courreges. It’s worth about $2,000!!! I also have a dress from the 80s that I bought at a Detroit Goodwill in 2001 for $1.75. I’ve brought it with me on every trip around the world. It’s my travel dress. It represents the start of my adult life in New York, my career and all of the travel and adventure that’s come along with it.
April: Everything I have is for sale!!!
Donna: I’VE GOT TO ASK YOU A TV QUESTION ALYSON. WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE STEVE HARVEY GUEST?
Alyson: Eighty-Five year old Betty True, aka Rally Granny. While at a Dodger’s game she saw herself on the Jumbotron dancing and decided to flash 40,000 fans at Dodgers Stadium. The crowd went wild and she became a viral sensation.
She’s the perfect guest because she’s funny, spontaneous, has heart, is wise and is pure joy. She’s the ordinary hero who stands out because she did something that pulled the curtain back on her true character — and that character was inspirational.
Donna: STEVE HARVEY INTERVIEWS A LOT OF CELEBRITIES, NAME HIS BEST DRESSED GUEST?
Alyson: Steve Harvey! The man loves fashion and the reverence and attention paid to every single detail is something I find beautiful. It’s rumored that he never wears the same suit twice. Every detail is thought out, down to his wife Marjorie’s signature on the cuff of every custom made shirt. He emphasizes that you should dress for the job you want to have. On show days the staff is dressed up. All the men wear fitted suits, wing tip shoes, cufflinks and Borsalino hats. Steve even notices if a male staffer folds his pocket square incorrectly.
Being around him inspires you to appreciate and elevate how you dress. I respect his fashion style because it represents something bigger. It represents a lifestyle. It’s Mr. Harvey’s dream come to life!
Stay tuned to see how these sisters grow their online vintage clothing business and see their incredible collection of Italian vintage clothing straight from Sicily! Follow Alyson and April on Instagram @decadentedks
Founder, Swoon Talent