Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms weekly Meet a Mom spotlight where we feature one local mama, what they’re up to both personally and professionally. But first we’d like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to our Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Law Firm. Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities!
This week’s Meet a Mom spotlight is the lovely and super creative vintage closet curator, Melissa Carter, owner of Kameo Vintage, a clothing resale company and an upcycling brand that focuses on modern trends with vintage garments from the past.The Highland Park born, raised and newly returned mom of the sweetest 4th grade boy, has limitless energy that can lift anyone out of a funk. Welcome, Melissa!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here? Why do you love where you live?
Hi! My name is Melissa Carter, owner of Kameo Vintage! I am from Highland Park bi-way of New York! Although, I spent my entire childhood in Highland Park, I consider myself a city girl! When I graduated from the historical black college Clark Atlanta University, I sold all my furniture and drove to New York with only clothes in my two door Honda Civic.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
My 10 year son’s name is Devin.
What has been/was the hardest part about this pandemic for you personally?
The hardest part of the pandemic has been finding my Northern Star. When you live and work in a city like New York it is hard to believe that the most innovative city is “dead”. I had to come to terms with pivoting out of a New York lifestyle and focus on finding my way. In finding my way – I came Home to Highland Park.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you…
The one thing that people would be surprised to know about me is that I use to be a HP Jammer. Before I completely pivoted out of dance, I had a stint in modeling.
Please tell us about your vintage fashion brand, I Am The Carter Projekt!
My LLC, I am the Carter Projekt was established in 2010, but it was a dormant LLC until 2020. When COVID hit and we we were all sequestered in our homes, I decided to live out my calling, which was recycling clothing. After, getting terminated from Coach, as the District Recruiter for Manhattan, I immediately pivoted into fashion and haven’t looked back!
Kameo Vintage is a clothing resale company and an upcycling brand that focuses on modern trends with vintage garments from the past. I restyle and upcycle pieces and grant them a second life. Furthermore, I am the Carter Projekt, LLC is a retail consulting brand. I primarily focus on innovating retail for small businesses.
What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner in the fashion industry and how do you push through it?
The fashion industry is constantly changing, so as a small business you have to constantly be flexible. I push through by collaborating, networking and being innovative.
How do you select the clothing that you feature?
I select clothing a few ways:
- Road Trips: I source for super cool garments all over the country.
- Consignment: I have clients that constantly want to clean out their closet, but are hesitant to donate their items. They truly want their items recycled to a person who would enjoy them like they did.
- Estate Sales: I love going to estate sales because you meet really cool people and there are such incredible stories centered around the garments.
- Recycling Spirits: There have been times, when a client’s loved ones have transitioned. Some of their family members will reach out to me and sell me their loved ones clothing and jewelry. There are families that truly want to recycle their loved ones spirit so that their deceased family member can be celebrated by people around the world.
What’s most rewarding to you about this endeavor?
The most rewarding thing about this endeavor is that I get in my passion. I get to travel and really flex my creative wings. Regardless of the pitfalls, I am constantly learning.
Who are your influencers and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today and/or continue to inspire you?
Mentors that inspire me are:
Sheryl Roberts, the CEO of the vintage brand Indigo Style Vintage. (IG: @Sheryl Roberts).
Alex Detuch from @Volumes_of_Vintage: Museum curator and vintage collector out of Baltimore
Joe Medev – Joe’s Black Book – CEO of a recruiting agency from NY | LA| London – he constantly pushes me to think BIG
Randy Cousin – Senior Vice President of Product Concept and People’s Placement for Tommy Hilfiger
Wow, what a great list! Any advice for other mamas out there who are looking to start a new business?
Do it! Time waits for know one! There is never a perfect time to start anything. So do it now and do it BIG!
What’s next for IATCP and Kameo Vintage?
The next thing for IATCP and Kameo Vintage is to get the Iconic Afro Woman collection into a big box store. I would love to establish distribution and have my brand image as a household name/image.
I would also like to open a clothing TRADE store, where people can come in and either trade or get cash for the unwanted items in their closet.
Awesome! Where is Kameo Vintage located? Can we also shop on your Instagram site?
Kameo Vintage is located at 564 Lincoln Avenue Winnetka, IL 60093. I love visitors, but yes, anyone can shop my Instagram site. In fact, I often host Instagram Live events that run similar to that of an auction.