Behind The Vintage: Jamie Espino of Poorly Curated

For our second interview of the series, we got to know Jamie Espino, the founder and “one-person circus” behind Poorly Curated — an eclectic vintage shop based out of Arkansas. Her shop might be called “Poorly Curated” since there’s not one style she gravitates toward, but the pieces Jamie sources have personalities of their own and are everything but mediocre.

Learn more about Jamie’s values and Poorly Curated in her “Behind The Vintage” interview below.

Tell us about the story of how you started Poorly Curated!

It started with the classic “What am I gonna do with my life” post college graduation. I tried applying for stuff in NY, and knew it would be brain-rot central to work for big companies. Reading job descriptions that were essentially “re-touch photos of [White] models for [unsustainable] fashion brand” gave me the creeps. My friend and I attempted an Etsy shop freshman year, so I thought okay, I’ll do vintage full time. My dad gifted me a generous $100 to help get things rolling. And now I am here!

Tell us about your relationship to capitalism - does that inform how you run Poorly Curated?

Oh, of course. I sell vintage clothing because I don’t want to contribute to exploiting labor and the environment for an outfit. Exploitation is the essential worker of capitalism. Trends also feed consumerism, so vintage is a way to slow that down. Getting dressed is fun, but I don’t think it should be at the expense of other people, or the livability of the planet for humans.

Is there a specific ethos or process you bring to curation?

The shop is called Poorly Curated because there’s never been a singular style I gravitate toward. When I choose pieces I just feel they have something interesting. I’m like, “Ok, this is cool for someone.”

What are some of the challenges of running a vintage business?

Mostly the stable income part. Selling clothes is very competitive because there are sooo many brands and resellers. If I put in 20 hours of work and make no sales, it’s not like I get a wage for the time I put in. Self-Motivation/self-reliance.

How was Poorly Curated affected by the pandemic?

I couldn’t source IRL for a few months since segundas were closed, but it allowed me to go over my inventory, style things differently, and re-photograph stuff.

Are there any ways you hope the vintage industry will shift or change?

Hoping it will be less White. Sometimes I see shops selling mediocre clothing for exorbitant prices and it’s such an eye roll, but it’s allowed because they’re White and skinny. The bodies of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have become trendy within the last few years, so sure there’s more diverse models, but I wanna see that on the business side too.

Where do you see Poorly Curated in a few years?

I’m content with the rhythm of my one-person circus, but maybe doing more IRL pop ups? Honestly. I would love to have a bi-annual print catalog. Order through mail or call only.

What are your favorite parts of sourcing and selling vintage? And your least favorite?

Fave: Going out and hand-selecting the items. Full treasure hunt mode.

Least Fave: Marketing because advertising is so brutal. I’m not a fan of Instagram because it’s like “be seen”, “be hot”, “follow trends”. Social media is what burns me out the most. [I] guess it depends on who/what you’re looking at.

What's one thing people don't know about running a vintage business?

I’m not sure what people are aware of. Maybe people assume it’s easy and poof you magically sell things, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it. That’s just another capitalism thing though -- alienation from workers. Packages just show up at your door, so people forget what goes into that.