Alexandria Monet and Julien Jacobs are starting a consumer revolution
Running a business

Alexandria Monet and Julian Jacobs are starting a consumer revolution

Names: Alexandria Monet and Julian Jacobs

Location: Raleigh, NC

Business: Unorthodox Vintage

Tell us about your business.

Alexandria: We like to refer to Unorthodox as the consumer revolution because a lot of energy is put towards fast fashion and things that come and go, but vintage is sustainable. So it's putting emphasis on the fact that it doesn't have to be one wear. It doesn't have to be something that you purchase and forget about. It’s something you're going to love and continue to fall in love with. 

We operate two separate vintage brands. I do women's vintage apparel called She Thrifty Apparel. And Julian has Sir Chances, which is men's apparel. Operating those two separate brands allowed us to bring both under one house. So it was kind of like the perfect marriage. Like we both can stay in our lane and it could be under one space to be able to serve as many people that want vintage clothing.

How did you get started?

Julian: I decided to move from online to in person about six or seven months in. So I started out online and then got some traction, some more money, then invested it. I bought some racks, I did three or four yard sales, and then I started doing pop-ups. And then from pop-ups we made Unorthodox Vintage.

Alexandria: We didn't necessarily have a business plan or a goal. It was like, you're doing your thing over here, I'm doing my thing over here. There's an opportunity for us to expand. 

Was start-up capital a challenge?

Alexandria: We did all of this with less than $10,000. And that's including all the inventory, rent, and insurance. We had what we had. We had a small loan from a friend. But we didn't take out, you know, thousands of dollars to do this. 

We had money saved from doing popups. That's how me and Julian made a lot of our money — doing external pop-ups and saving it.

What do you think makes the Gen Z entrepreneur experience different?

Julian: I went to a trade school — I went to culinary school and I was a chef and a baker. I was super passionate about that. That's what I wanted to do. And then at one point, I don't know, I just started thrifting and the pandemic hit and I saw that there was a pathway out of the service industry into being my own boss and opening up my own business and making my own hours. That was the main thing. I didn't wanna wake up early, I didn't wanna stay late. I wanted to set my schedule and do my own thing. Those were all my pillars. I want to be comfortable, I want to make money, I want to make money with someone, not for someone. It’s very Gen Z, I think.

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I want to make money with someone, not for someone.

Why does being your own boss feel so important? 

Julian: It's important to be my own boss because I want to be in control of my schedule and what I do day-to-day, but also help people as much as we can. Like the people that we hire, we want to make sure that we pay them a good wage. The people that come to shop, we want to make sure that we're giving them good value. And when that all happens and you see it happening, it just makes you feel better than seeing numbers on a screen. 

Alexandria: Being my own boss chose me because I kept leaving jobs. You want to be fulfilled and you want to be happy and in whatever you do. I kept getting these jobs that I was qualified for, but I was just miserable. And when I felt that, I knew it was time for me to leave.

When did you really start to feel like a business owner?

Alexandria: When I launched my Etsy shop, I knew that I was launching a business. But it was really when I was able to problem solve and pivot that I was like, “I'm a business owner. I know what I’m doing. I got this.” It took really getting through the grit and the challenges and knowing that I was not going anywhere and I was not giving up, that I fully was like, “I own a business, I am my own boss, and I'm here to see it through.”

Julian: For me, I knew that it was time to go when I asked for a raise at one of my jobs and the offer wasn’t enough. I was like, “I can go sell t-shirts for more than that.” I just knew that betting on myself would make me happy.

What keeps you motivated? 

Alexandria: When we opened the store, I realized that I had to give it my all. Operating this and figuring out the systems and how the store was going to run every day. I knew that my energy and my focus couldn't be anywhere else. I'm very type A. I like to have security and a plan. Entrepreneurship doesn't always provide you with that so you really just have to trust your instincts and go with your gut. 

Keeping the passion alive is a self reminder every day of why you're doing it. For me, I do it because I love it and I also really believe in the sustainability of thrifting.

What has been your happiest or most fulfilling moment so far?

Alexandria: When we signed the lease, I felt amazing. And then when we moved in, it was empty. I don't know. It was like  when you get your first apartment or something and you're like “This is ours. This is ours to do what we want to do with it and to make it an experience for people.” It was a proud moment for me, and I was thinking about my grandma, my mom, and thinking “They're gonna be so happy. They're gonna be so proud of me.”

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