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Daily Inspiration: Meet Kristen Gardner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Gardner.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I have been in love with cooking, languages, art, music, and design since I was a child!

You could find me reading cookbooks cover to cover (The Silver Palate was my favorite), poring over my mom’s design magazine collection, banging on the drum set in the basement, or teaching myself how to speak French from cassette tapes!

My dad quickly learned that my brothers had zero interest in his favorite things – junking and thrifting – so on weekends, we would go picking through treasures at flea markets.

He showed me once you take something out of the context of a pile of rubble, shine it up, and display it with other cool things, it becomes a unique collection, taking on a new life. He definitely was a major influence on why I pursued a career in vintage!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
If I had to submit a résumé of all the different jobs I’ve had, it would be about 20 pages long!

I struggled hard to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up” and with a college education in French and Art History, I just felt aimless. I worked in food, the medical field, health & wellness, and retail. I didn’t feel confident enough to make the jump to what I really loved – vintage wares, event planning & interior design.

I credit a very adept and intuitive acupuncturist for finally helping me to remove some energy blocks and switch to my current career. I’m so glad I finally answered the call!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I currently have a small vintage business, Bon Vivant Vintage. I describe my eclectic style as “classical bohemian”, influenced by traveling, art history, fashion, the coast of Maine, all things Nordic, and a love of cooking, decorating, and entertaining.

I like to combine modern and vintage classic elements to create a lived-in feel that’s comfortable, yet stylish. My favorite clients are the people who have always bought everything “brand new” and they want to start introducing antique and vintage objects into their homes. It’s nice to surround oneself with things that have lived a life, that have a story and a soul to them.

My favorite things to collect are old hotel/travel ephemera, vintage French menus to frame, coastal oil paintings, mid-century bamboo furniture, vintage barware, Turkish rugs, vintage caftans, brass mirrors, anything to do with the sea, and marble lamps!

There’s a whole lot more, but you’ll just have to stop in and see me at Sweet Clover in Frederick, MD where I have a vendor space. We are open the 3rd weekend of the month!

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
Oh, so totally virtual! Especially as rents in urban areas go bananas. It’s tough to make a living selling vintage as a small business! I’m lucky to be in a collective with reasonable rent right now.

This may be more than 10 years down the road, but I want a portal in my living room that lets me hit up my favorite 80s and 90s throwback mall stores! I would love to go listen to “cassingles” at Sam Goody, grab an Orange Julius or try on color-block puffy leather jackets at Merry-Go-Round.

Then be able to actually purchase these vintage items in real-time from sellers on the internet. Omg, did I just date myself with those store references?

Follow Kristen on Instagram @bonvivant_vintage and @sweetcloverbarn.

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1 Comment

  1. Gail Spruill

    August 2, 2022 at 3:25 am

    You are the bomb!

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