Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a visit with... tina robinson of lovely betty

If Astrid Lindgren had ever written about an adult Pippi Longstocking, there’s a good chance she’d have turned out a lot like Lovely Betty owner Tina Robinson.   

Like her style inspiration Pippi, Tina is a red-haired iconoclast and she’s created something of a Villa Villekulla for Fredericton fashionistas with bright colours and big surprises lurking in every corner.

Growing up in her mother’s British Woolens store, Tina says learned an appreciation for fine fabrics - wool, silk, cashmere – and certain classic styles.  She’d been a serious thrifter for decades but it wasn’t until she opened Lovely Betty as a consignment and vintage shop a year and half ago that she considered making a living at it.

“It wasn’t until after I opened the store that I realized I’ve been doing this all along I just didn’t realize I did it.  I was always attracted to classic things but I don’t think the word ‘vintage’ was banged around as much as it is now.  I’ve been doing this a long time without realizing what I’d been doing and just incorporating it into my wardrobe. ”

The shop originally opened in Brookside Mall but on March 1 moved to its new home in Marysville. Perched high on a hill with a view of Boss Gibson’s old mill, the house itself was built in the mid-nineteenth century for Gibson's son John.  Today decades-old wallpapers mix with electric paint colours and every room of the two-storey home holds temptations for fashionable treasure-seekers. 

The racks at Lovely Betty aren’t solely devoted to vintage.  Tina accepts many more recent items as well.  There's one standard they all meet: interesting well-made pieces with fine details - and a sense of fun.  While she steers away from being matchy-matchy, the vignettes she creates around the store show a natural editor's eye for playing dress up.

Just as she relies on her instinct in picking great pieces for the shop, Tina bases her business strategy heavily on her intuition.

“I’ve been winging it from the beginning. I definitely have a little guy on my shoulder that is my inspiration. My mom’s old boyfriend when I was growing up was an entrepreneur who moved to Canada from Ireland with nothing,” explains Tina.  “And I’ve read recently that entrepreneurs look at the world upside down; that they see what’s missing instead of what’s there and that’s what John did.”

“He took tons of risks but had a really good intuition. He made a million, lost a million and made it back and ended up dying a multi-millionaire. He generally made the right decisions and jumped on things -even though it was risky - if it felt right.” 

“John had died just a couple of months before I opened the shop.  He really didn’t want to die, he went to the Mayo clinic, he tried everything to stay alive.  So I always thought if he was given the chance to take over my body and do whatever he wanted to do would he open the shop?  And I think he’d be like, ‘Hell yeah. Go for it!  What do you have to lose?’”

That same sense of adventure lurks around every corner of the shop - velvet capes, leopard-print ankle boots, fantastic costume jewelry?  Go for it! 

Lovely Betty is located at 277 Canada Street in Marysville.  They’re open Mon-Thur: 11-6,  Fri: 11 -8 and Saturday: 10-6.
Got some great pieces you’re ready to part with?  Bring them in to Lovely Betty on consignment.  Tina selects what she thinks will sell and prices according to what she thinks it will go for.  You’ll receive 40% of price if the item goes for under $100, 50% if it sells for over $100 and 60% if it sells for over $200.  She generally keeps items for three months.


Kiwi said...

very awesome blog entry on Tina!!
Lovely Betty is THE place for women to shop in Fredericton!

L said...

Wow, this store sounds lovely. Next time I'm in Fredericton I HAVE to visit. Thanks for doing such a wonderful highlight of it!